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Female Sexual Dysfunction

Definition

Female sexual dysfunction refers to recurrent problems during any phase of the sexual response cycle (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that causes distress or negatively affects your relationship with your partner.

Causes

The following factors tend to be related:

Physical

Physical causes of female sexual dysfunction include:

Hormonal

During menopause in particular, estrogen levels decrease, which can cause changes to occur in your genital tissues and your sexual responsiveness. Intercourse may become painful ( dyspareunia ), and/or it may take longer for you to achieve an orgasm.

Psychological

Untreated emotional and psychological issues need to be addressed for treatment to be effective. Factors that affect sexual functioning may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Sexual abuse in the past
  • Self-perception during and after pregnancy
  • Conflict with your partner
Female Body
female body anatomy
Factors from different body systems may play a part in female sexual dysfunction.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Female Body
female body anatomy
Factors from different body systems may play a part in female sexual dysfunction.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

This condition is most common in those aged 45-64.
Factors that may increase your risk of sexual dysfunction include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of sexual dysfunction include experiencing personal distress because of one or more of the following:

Diagnosis

Defining sexual dysfunction is largely dependent on your own view of sexual difficulties and your relationship with your partner.
You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, sexual history, and the medications you take. A gynecologic exam will be done. You may also have a psychological evaluation.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done using:

Treatment

Because many factors can lead to the disorder, both medical and nonmedical treatments may be recommended.
Medical treatments address the underlying conditions, and include the following:
Other treatments to improve sexual health and decreased desire include:

Prevention

You can't avoid all the risk factors for female sexual dysfunction. However, avoiding emotional stress may help.

RESOURCES

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org

References

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Female sexual dysfunction. Practice Bulletin. 2011;119.

Berman JR, Adhikari SP, Goldstein I. Anatomy and physiology of female sexual function and dysfunction. European Urology. 2000;38:20-29.

Berman JR, Berman L, Goldstein I. Female sexual dysfunction: incidence, pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment options. Urology. 1999;54(3):385-391.

Dennerstein L. How changing methods affect our understanding of female sexual function and dysfunction J Sex Med. 2010;7(7):299-300.

Female sexual dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 12, 2013. Accessed October 29, 2014.

Phillips NA. Female sexual dysfunction: evaluation and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(1).

9/16/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Huang A, Yaffe K, Vittinghoff E, et al. The effect of ultralow-dose transdermal estradiol on sexual function in postmenopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008;198:265.e1-7.

2/17/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Shifren JL, Monz BU, Russo PA, Segreti A, Johannes CB. Sexual problems and distress in United States women: prevalence and correlates. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:970-978.

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