A more recent article on sexual dysfunction in women is available. See related patient information handout on sexual dysfunction in womenwritten by the author of this article. Related Editorial.
These problems may have physical or psychological causes. Physical causes may include conditions like diabetes, heart disease, nerve disorders, or hormone problems. Some drugs can also affect desire and function.
Sexual dysfunction is difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple during any stage of a normal sexual activityincluding physical pleasure, desirepreference, arousal or orgasm. According to the DSM-5sexual dysfunction requires a person to feel extreme distress and interpersonal strain for a minimum of six months excluding substance or medication-induced sexual dysfunction. A thorough sexual history and assessment of general health and other sexual problems if any are very important.
FSD is more typical as women age and is a progressive and widespread condition. Common symptoms associated with FSD include diminished vaginal lubrication, pain and discomfort upon intercourse, decreased sense of arousal and difficulty in achieving orgasm. Only a small percentage of women seek medical attention.
This is a corrected version of the article that appeared in print. This version of the article includes supplemental content. A more recent article on sexual dysfunction in women is available.
Back to Sexual health. Many women have problems with sex at some stage in their life. To identify the reasons behind sexual dysfunction, both physical and psychological factors have to be considered, including a woman's relationship with her partner.
Female sexual dysfunction FSD is a broad term used to describe three categories of disorders of a multifactorial nature. Efficacious but limited pharmacotherapeutic options exist to address FSD. Off-label use of hormonal therapies, particularly estrogen and testosterone, are the most widely employed for FSD, particularly in postmenopausal women. Other drugs currently under investigation include phosphodiesterase inhibitors and agents that modulate dopamine or melanocortin receptors.
Persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm or pain — that distress you or strain your relationship with your partner — are known medically as sexual dysfunction. Many women experience problems with sexual function at some point, and some have difficulties throughout their lives. Female sexual dysfunction can occur at any stage of life.
Sexual dysfunction includes painful intercourse, painful contraction spasm of the vaginal muscles, and problems with sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm that cause distress. Depression or anxiety, other psychologic factors, disorders, and drugs can contribute to sexual dysfunction, as can the woman's situation, including relationship difficulties. To identify a problem, doctors often talk to both partners separately and together, and a pelvic examination is often necessary when the woman has pain or problems with orgasm. Improving the relationship, communicating more clearly and openly, and arranging the best circumstances for sexual activities can often help, regardless of the cause of sexual dysfunction.