Many women have problems with sex at some stage in their life. Sexual problems affect around 50% of women, and become more common as women get older. Dysfunction can include loss of desire, loss of arousal, problems with orgasm and pain during sex.
To identify the reasons behind sexual dysfunction, both physical and psychological factors have to be considered, including a woman’s relationship with her partner.
lack of sex drive
Loss of desire, or lack of sex drive, affects some women at certain times of life (such as pregnancy or times of stress). But some experience it all the time.
A lack of sex drive can have a range of physical or psychological causes, including diabetes, depression, relationship problems, hormone disorders, excessive alcohol and drug use, tiredness, and traumatic sexual experience.
Sex drive can also fall if a woman’s natural testosterone levels drop. Testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands, so levels can drop if these are removed or they're not functioning properly.
Psychosexual therapy can help a woman overcome orgasm problems. It involves exploring her feelings about sex, herself and her relationship.
These can be divided into two types: primary (when a woman has never had an orgasm) and secondary (when a woman has had an orgasm in the past but can't now). Some women don’t need to have an orgasm to enjoy sex, but inability to reach orgasm can be a problem for some women and their partners.
Reasons why a woman can’t have an orgasm can include fear or lack of knowledge about sex, being unable to ‘let go’, not enough effective stimulation, relationship problems, mood disorders (such as depression), and again previous traumatic sexual experience.
Exploring her feelings about sex, her relationship and herself, can help a woman overcome orgasm problems.
Pain during sex is common after the menopause as oestrogen levels fall and the vagina feels dry. This can affect a woman’s desire for sex, but there are some creams that can help. Ask your GP or pharmacist.
To establish the cause of sexual dysfunction, a doctor or therapist will need to ask you questions about your medical, sexual and social history. Your GP can carry out tests for underlying medical conditions.
If your problem is related to lack of hormones (such as testosterone or oestrogen), hormone replacement therapy can help.
Treating other conditions such as diabetes or depression might also alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
In many cases of sexual dysfunction, sexual therapy can help. Talk with your partner about your problem, and see a therapist together if you can. Don't be embarrassed. Many people experience sexual dysfunction, and there are ways to get help.