Female Sexual Dysfunction
What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)?
Female sexual dysfunction is the umbrella medical term for a number of distressing symptoms related to low sexual desire, difficulty with sexual response (arousal and lubrication) and/or orgasm, or pain related to sexual activity.
Baptist Health practitioners who see patients facing female sexual dysfunction understand that this condition affects the “whole you.” They’ll partner with you to compassionately explore both the causes and treatment options for your individual symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Female sexual dysfunction symptoms can include:
- Sexual pain: You feel pain when you get sexually aroused or have vaginal intercourse. This symptom can occur all your life or be something you experience for a specific time.
- Lack of desire: Some women have little or no interest in sex until they actually start engaging in sexual activity, and then they become aroused. However, desire is considered a sexual dysfunction when a woman:
- Is never interested in any type of sexual activity, including masturbation
- Has very few or no sexual thoughts, fantasies or dreams
- Feels stress about her low sexual desire
- Lack of sexual arousal: Even if you’re interested in sex, you may have trouble getting or staying physically aroused. Some women with this symptom don’t produce enough vaginal lubrication.
- Difficulties with orgasm: Some women never have orgasms (sexual climax) during sexual activity, and aren’t bothered by it. However, other women:
- Want to experience orgasms but never have
- Had orgasms in the past but are no longer able to do so
- Notice that their orgasms are significantly less intense than they used to be
You may have a higher risk of developing female sexual dysfunction during periods of your life when your hormones fluctuate significantly. Some physical conditions can also cause sexual dysfunction. Female sexual dysfunction causes include:
- Perimenopause or Menopause: Hormones fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause which can lead to female sexual dysfunction
- Women's heart disease: heart disease leads to lower blood flow to sexual organs
- Tobacco, alcohol or drugs: overuse of tobacco, alcohol or drugs can cause sexual dysfunction
Other factors that may increase the risk of sexual dysfunction include:
- Depression and/or anxiety disorder
- Emotional trauma, including a history of sexual abuse
- Relationship issues with your partner
- Neurological (brain-related) conditions such as multiple sclerosis or a traumatic spinal cord injury or head injury
- Liver disease or kidney disease
- Specific medications, including antidepressants and prescriptions for high blood pressure
Female sexual dysfunction diagnosis is determined by different physical exams, a conversation about your sexual history, and blood tests.
- Conduct a routine physical exam to check your overall health
- Perform a pelvic exam to check all the reproductive organs
- Perform a Pap smear to ensure there are no abnormalities in the cervix
- Review your health history for any risk factors or indicators
- Order blood tests to check your hormone levels are within healthy ranges
Most doctors will also ask questions about your past sexual history. This may feel uncomfortable, but be as honest as you can. This information helps them diagnose your issue and get you the help you need.
Medical Treatment Options
Your doctor may recommend more than one approach, particularly if you have several overlapping symptoms. Treating female sexual dysfunction can involve addressing medical conditions or hormonal imbalances. Some medical treatments for female sexual dysfunction include:
- Estrogen cream: If vaginal dryness is an issue, an estrogen cream may be prescribed as a part of treatment
- Reevaluate medications: Some medications you take to see if they have sexually related side effects. It might be possible to switch you to a different, but equally effective medicine if there is an issue
You may be diagnosed with an underlying physical problem connected to your sexual dysfunction, such as endometriosis. In that case, your doctor will treat that condition or refer you to a specialist.
Non-Medical Treatment Options
To treat sexual dysfunction, there are non-medical options a provider may suggest including:
- See a specialized sex therapist or general therapist: These professionals can educate you and talk with you about a wide range of issues that could affect your sexual life
- Practice healthy lifestyle habits
- Using lubricants
Next Steps with MyChart
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