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Candlelight, roses, wine, dinner and dancing: The stage is set for a night of romance. But once the big moment comes, sexual dysfunction enters the scene and the night winds up in the toilet. What is sexual dysfunction? What are its causes? Why does it happen to some and not to others? Does it affect women as well as men? In this article we will address a handful of causes as well as some ways in which sexual dysfunction may be addressed.

Sexual Dysfunction in Women

There are several types of sexual dysfunction reported by women. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Desire: Some women may show little to no desire in sexual activity. This lack of interest may be due to stress, fatigue, or hormones, among other things.
• Arousal: Some women may not feel initial arousal by their partner while others have difficulty remaining aroused.
• Orgasm: Some women have difficulty reaching orgasm while others report having pain during orgasm.
• Pain: Some women report having pain during or after sexual intercourse.

What Causes Sexual Dysfunction in Women?

Many outside stimuli can cause problems in the bedroom. For instance, certain types of medication such as oral contraceptives and chemotherapy drugs; conditions such as diabetes and hypertension; excessive alcohol use, and vaginal infections may result in some sort of sexual dysfunction. Additionally, psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, abuse, and relational difficulties may also lead to sexual problems.

Some women find that their sexual desire plummets during pregnancy, immediately following childbirth, and during lactation. Menopause is another period of time in a woman’s life in which sexual desire decreases, and vaginal dryness may lead to pain during intercourse due to a drop in estrogen.

The various stressors of everyday life can also affect a person’s ability to perform sexually. Fatigue from a busy job or caring for young children may also have a direct impact on your sexual desire, or lack thereof. You may also find that you are bored with your current sexual routine and therefore are not desirous to initiate physical contact.

Did you know that up to 70% of couples have had issues with sex at some point in their lives? Most women will report that they have had less-than-pleasurable sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. Just because you have had a handful of this type of experiences does not mean that you have a sexual problem. However, if you find that sex never feels good or right, then you may have a sexual dysfunction. If this has become an on-going issue for you, you may want to discuss your concerns with your physician. Some people find sex to be an intimidating subject of conversation. Do not let that deter you. Sex should be enjoyable. There are ways to ensure that sex is a pleasurable act and not a chore, but you must first reveal your struggle(s) to a trained professional.

If desire happens to be the problem, consider changing your routine. For instance, try having sex in the morning rather than at night; have sex in a room other than the bedroom, or explore different sexual positions.

If you suffer with arousal disorders, consider using a vaginal cream or lubricant. If you have already gone through menopause, speak with your physician about taking an estrogen replacement or using an estrogen cream.

If you cannot achieve an orgasm, you may not be getting enough foreplay stimulation before intercourse begins. You may notice that in order to achieve orgasm you need the extra stimulation provided by a vibrator. Most women tend not to reach orgasm during intercourse. If you desire an orgasm during intercourse, you may want to communicate different ways in which your partner can help you experience one (or many)! Masturbation is also an option that you may find works effectively for you.

If you are experiencing pain during intercourse, try a different position. When you (the woman) are on top, you tend to have more control over penetration and movement and speed. Try emptying your bladder, using lubrication, or taking a warm bath prior to having sex and see if these suggestions do not minimize pain with intercourse. If you continue to experience pain during sex, talk with your gynecologist. He or she will help you to determine the origin of your pain as well as provide the best treatment for you.

If you have already gone through menopause, or have had gynecological surgery that has put you in early menopause, taking a hormone replacement such as estrogen may actually help with sexual problems. If you do not currently take estrogen, check with your doctor to see if estrogen replacement is a feasible treatment option for you.

You may have heard or read the negative reports regarding the use of such drugs as sildenafil (Viagra), or the male hormone testosterone prescribed to help women with sexual problems. However, there are no current studies to confirm the effect–positive or negative–of Viagra or testosterone on women; therefore, doctors do not know whether or not these medications can actually help you to achieve orgasm. It has been reported that Viagra and testosterone can have serious side effects, so using them is probably not worth the risk.

Practice “sensate focus” exercises in which one partner gives a massage, while the other partner orally says what feels good and then requests various changes. Fantasizing may increase your desire. Kegel exercises may also help to increase your sexual arousal. Try sexual activities other than intercourse, such as massage or oral sex.

Speak with your partner about those things you like and dislike, and certain positions you would like to try. Communication is the key to a healthy sexual relationship–one that is free from sexual frustration and dysfunction! Talk to your partner about your sexual desires and let the sexual healing begin!

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