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Female Sexual Dysfunction – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


30-Second Summary
  • Female sexual dysfunction is common in women at any age and may come from many factors.
  • It can cause a low sex drive in women or no sex drive and can be caused by physical or mental events or trauma.
  • Female sexual dysfunction can cause painful intercourse, no desire for intercourse, or cause a lack of an orgasm.
  • The root of female sexual dysfunction can also be a side effect from certain medical conditions or treatment for an existing condition.
  • Female sexual dysfunction can also follow a significant life event, such as childbirth, pregnancy, or surgery.

What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction and How Does it Affect Women?

Female sexual dysfunction is an umbrella term covering a whole range of issues that inevitably result in a lack of desire for sexual intercourse, painful intercourse, or the lack of reaching a sexually induced climax called anorgasmia.

There are so many reasons that could result in a female sexual problem, but sometimes, the cause is unknown.

Female sexual dysfunction can result from trauma to either the body or mind, from a medical condition, or the treatments associated with that medical condition. Still, it can also be psychosomatic, caused by extremes of emotions or historical mental trauma.

You can treat low sex drive in women in many ways, including medication, exercises, or talking therapies and counseling. Still, as much as sometimes the cause is unknown, the treatments may also need a lot of exploring before a suitable one is found that improves the outcome of the symptoms.

What Different Types of Female Sexual Dysfunction Are There?

Types of Female Sexual Dysfunction

There are four main types of female sexual dysfunction, these are:

  • Inhibited Sexual Desire (Low or No Desire for Intercourse) – Having a low desire for sexual intercourse or indeed no desire at all is the most common of the female sexual dysfunctions among women who have this disorder. It involves feeling a partial or a complete lack of sexual interest, which includes any willingness to be intimate or sexual in any way.

    Having an inhibited sexual desire may cause a woman to shy away from any initiation of intimacy in case it may lead to sexual contact and intercourse or it can appear when there seems to be no problem. But then, something triggers an immediate response that stops all sexual desire.

  • Inability to Become Aroused or Sexually Stimulated – These symptoms are commonly referred to as sexual arousal disorder.

    Unlike the previous symptoms of having low or no desire for sexual intercourse, the desire for sex might be very much present and active. Still, there may be a difficulty when it comes to being physically aroused. This can include the inability to become aroused initially or the inability to maintain that arousal during sexual intercourse and intimacy.

    This area of female sexual dysfunction can be displayed through physical, mental, or emotional means, such as vaginal dryness or the mind not responding to the physical actions. All of the symptoms here can be interlinked and also simultaneously be the start and the result of the problem.

  • Inability to Climax/Lack of orgasm ( Anorgasmia) – Anorgasmia is the medical term for sexual dysfunction in women attached to having the inability to climax or the lack of orgasm even when there has been sufficient mental, emotional, and physical stimulation to your body and mind.

    When there is a persistent difficulty in reaching orgasm, even after ongoing targeted physical stimulation, it may indicate a block somewhere that is not allowing your body the climax it desires.

    This is rarely anything dangerous to worry about. Orgasms are felt in varying degrees each time a climax is reached, so it may be the case that you have them. You just may not recognize them as ground-shaking orgasms.

    This is rarely anything dangerous to worry about. Orgasms are felt in varying degrees each time a climax is reached, so it may be the case that you have them. You just may not recognize them as ground-shaking orgasms.

  • Painful Intercourse ( Dyspareunia) – Painful intercourse during the activity of sex can also be referred to as sexual pain disorder.

    Suppose you experience pain, and this can be from mild to severe pain when you engage in sexual stimulation or vaginal contact. In that case, you may feel that there is possibly a specific physical reason for this pain, which can be the case of trauma to the area, either present or historical trauma.

    While the pain is felt physically in the vaginal area, both inside and outside, it could also be an emotional or mental response to physical intercourse that displays as physical pain concentrated around the female organ.

What Are the Different Symptoms of Sexual Dysfunction in Women?

Symptoms of Sexual Dysfunction

While many symptoms result from sexual dysfunction in women, some of the most common ones are:

  • Little or No Vaginal Lubrication – Little or no vaginal lubrication[1] is linked to not feeling the arousal in the prelude to intercourse and potentially during sexual intercourse.

    Lubrication of the vaginal channel is a physical response to arousal, so if you cannot feel aroused, it is unlikely that the vagina will prepare itself for intercourse.

  • Decreased or No Sense of Arousal – Feeling low sex drive in women and a decreased level of arousal, or feeling no arousal at all, can be related to not connecting mentally or emotionally to the physical or mental stimulation of an intimate situation.

    If there is no connection to the situation that is meant to stimulate an aroused response, it could mean that the body’s responses will not react to any arousal attempt.

  • Pain and Discomfort During Intercourse – Feeling any amount of pain during intercourse can come from several triggers. It could mean that there has been previous damage, trauma, or deformation of the vaginal area. This can be from childbirth or surgery, and that the site is still too sensitive to stimulation. It can also come from an automatic response from the body that may be described as idiopathic[2], meaning that there is no known cause for spontaneous pain.
  • Inability to Climax – The low sex drive in women, including the inability to climax during sexual activity and sufficient arousal and stimulation may be infinitely frustrating. It may be the case you can only orgasm in one position, only with external stimulation to the clitoris, or maybe you can only climax with one partner in a specific setting.

    If any of those are true, or it may be the case that no climax is reached in any situation, then this may be considered a significant symptom of female sexual dysfunction.

  • Avoiding Sexual Situations – Having female sexual dysfunction can be purely in mind, too, with no physical responses.

    Suppose the mind has somehow associated sexual intercourse with anxiety or fear. In that case, you will likely do anything to avoid being in a position that could lead to anything with a sexual connotation. This could include avoiding partners, making excuses, or removing yourself from situations where it could get physical.

What Are the Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction

The list of causes for female sexual dysfunction can be very lengthy. But there is a set of generic reasons that most women who suffer from FSD will fall under. These include:

  • Gynecologic Conditions – Any condition that affects specifically the female reproductive system with different severities may cause a female sexual problem.

    If the vagina, uterus, or ovaries have suffered a medical trauma or intervention, such as surgery, childbirth, or condition, such as endometriosis or uterine cysts, this may trigger a protection response in the body and inevitably may show itself as a female sexual problem, specifically FSD.

  • Historical Abuse – Any history of physical, mental, or, more specifically, physical and sexual abuse can trigger feelings of fear and pain, which can make it difficult for a person to, first of all, trust and accept intimacy, but secondly, it may make the person who has experienced this incredibly resistant to any physical or sexual attention.
  • Existing Medical Conditions – Existing medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer can create a female sexual problem, almost as a byproduct of a serious illness or disease.

    This can come from the prevalence of the condition itself, the treatments provided to help the condition, or it can be psychological in terms of the condition and treatment taking priority over the desire for sexual intercourse.

  • Poor Mental Health – If a woman is suffering from poor mental health, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem, this can adversely affect the desire for intimacy and sexual intercourse, causing low sex drive in women.

    There have been numerous studies around female sexual dysfunction as a product of female mental health, showing a clear link between mental health and sexual issues.

  • Prescribed Medications – When women are on certain kinds of medication, such as medication for blood pressure or antidepressants, they could experience a lack of sexual drive and lose the desire to become intimate. This can be linked to the ingredients in the medication interfering with the body’s chemical makeup, as discussed in this journal, which discusses Antidepressant-Induced FSD.

What Are the Treatments for Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Treatments for Female Sexual Dysfunction

As we have seen, there are so many reasons and causes where female sexual dysfunction can present itself, and to differing levels of severity too.

It is also crucial to mention that female sexual dysfunction is only a problem if it harms your health or relationship; otherwise, there is no need to do anything about it. If it does affect either of those elements, then the treatments for it can include:

  • Counseling and Talking Therapies – This could include you alone or you and your partner going to speak to a psychologist, or to talk about feelings, reservations, relationship fears, and past experiences that may have led to your female sexual problem.

    These medical professionals will not judge you; they are there to find out any contributing factors that may have caused the female sexual problem.

  • Hormone Therapy – This can include the introduction of medical intervention in the form of synthetic hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone, to redress their balance of hormones within the body, which could be a contributing factor for the development of female sexual dysfunction. Hormone replacement can come in the form of tablets, pessaries, gels, rings, or other physical devices.
  • Lubricants – If the appearance of sexual dysfunction in women comes in the form of vaginal dryness, it can cause significant pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. It is an area of FSD that can be overcome simply by introducing a lubricant to your sexual routine to limit and reduce the causation of pain from friction.
  • Self-Stimulation – Suppose the area of the sexual dysfunction in women lies in not reaching a climactic orgasm, in that case, medical professionals may recommend completing some self-stimulation using a device, such as a vibrator, to see if you can elicit a climax by yourself. It may seem strange, but knowing yourself will help future situations where an orgasm can’t be sought.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Habits – Reducing the potential lifestyle may lower the risk of sexual dysfunction in women, and increasing the lifestyle elements that improve the FSD should all be done!

    These changes can include stopping smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, instigating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, and making sure you get enough quality sleep. These things could make a difference to the condition.


Female sexual dysfunction is a condition that any female can experience at any time in their lives, and there is no definitive age or set of circumstances that are known that can trigger the condition.

Sexual dysfunction in women may come from physical trauma, resulting from surgery, or even be a result of physical defects that some women are born with.

A low desire for sexual intercourse or none can result from psychological issues from past experiences, medical conditions, or any medication prescribed for the treatment of illness or disease.

Sexual dysfunction in women can be felt in varying degrees. While treatments are available to combat the symptoms of hormonal imbalances that could be a contributing factor, many recommended treatments are non-medical, including psychotherapy, counseling, and physical interventions such as devices and self-guided exploration.

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