Women and sexual problems
Frigidity - self-care; Sexual dysfunction - female - self-care
Many women at some time in their life experience sexual dysfunction. This is a medical word that means that you are having problems with sex and are worried about it. Learn about the causes and symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Learn what might help you feel better about your sex life.
Common Sexual Problems
You may have sexual dysfunction if you are distressed by any of the following:
- Rarely or never have a desire to have sex
- Avoid sex with your partner
- Can’t get aroused or can’t stay aroused during sex even if you want sex
- Can’t have an orgasm
- Have pain during sex
Common Causes for Sexual Problems
Getting older: a woman’s sex drive often decreases with age. This is normal. It can be a problem when one partner wants sex more often than the other.
- Perimenopause and menopause. You have less estrogen as you get older. This can cause thinning of your skin in the vagina and vaginal dryness. Because of this, sex may be painful.
- Illnesses can cause problems with sex. Illnesses like cancer, bladder or bowel diseases, arthritis, and headaches may cause sexual problems.
- Some medicines can cause problems with sex. Medicine for blood pressure, depression, and chemotherapy can decrease your sex drive or make it hard to have an orgasm.
- Stress and anxiety
- Relationship problems with your partner
- Having been sexually abused in the past
How to Make Sex Better
Get plenty of rest and eat well. Limit alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Feel your best. This helps with feeling better about sex.
- Do Kegel exercises. Tighten and relax the pelvic muscles.
- Focus on other sexual activities, not just intercourse.
- Use birth control that works for both you and your partner. Discuss this ahead of time so you aren’t worried about an unwanted pregnancy.
How to Make Sex Less Painful
Spend more time on foreplay. Make sure you are aroused before intercourse.
- Use a vaginal lubricant like K-Y Jelly for dryness.
- Try different positions for intercourse.
- Empty your bladder before sex.
- Take a warm bath to relax before sex.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider If:
- You are distressed by a problem with sex
- Worried about your relationship
- Have pain or other symptoms with sex
Call your health care provider immediately if:
- Intercourse is suddenly painful. You may have an infection or other medical problem that needs to be treated now.
- You think you may have a sexually transmitted disease. You and your partner will want treatment right away.
- You have a headache or chest pain after sex.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your health care provider will do:
- A physical examination, including a pelvic exam
- An interview to ask you about your relationships, current sexual practices, attitudes towards sex, other medical problems you might have, medicines you are taking, and other possible symptoms
Get treatment for any other medical problems. This can help with problems with sex.
- Your doctor may be able to change or stop a medicine. This can help with sex problems.
- The doctor may recommend that you use estrogen tablets or cream to put in and around your vagina. This helps with dryness.
- If your doctor can’t help you, you can get a referral to a sex therapist.
- You and your partner may be referred for counseling to help with relationship problems or to work out bad experiences you have had with sex.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zeive, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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