Have you been experiencing a lack of sexual desire or is sex painful for you? Then you may be dealing with a sexual dysfunction disorder. You are not alone, sexual dysfunction disorders can occur at any stage of life. 43% of women and 31% of men report some degree of sexual dysfunction.
What is sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction is a problem that can happen to anyone, at any phase of the sexual response cycle. Preventing you from experiencing satisfaction during any sexual activity.
Generally, the sexual response cycle includes excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Desire and arousal, both play a part of the excitement phase of the sexual response. It’s also important to know women don’t always go through these phases in the exact same order.
Researchers suggest that sexual dysfunction is common, although many people aren’t always comfortable talking about it. Treatment options are available, if you think you have a sexual dysfunction disorder, you should share your concerns with your partner and healthcare provider.
Types of sexual dysfunction disorders
Sexual dysfunction generally is classified into four categories:
- Desire disorders: lack of sexual desire or interest in sex.
- Arousal disorders: inability to become physically aroused or excited during sexual activity.
- Orgasm disorders: delay or absence of orgasm (climax).
- Pain disorders: pain during intercourse.
If you experience persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm, or pain and it brings you distress or puts added strain on your relationship with your partner – that is medically known as sexual dysfunction. Generally, sexual dysfunction disorders are more common in those over 40 because it’s often related to a decline in health associated with aging. It can affect you at any age.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary depending on what type of sexual dysfunction you’re experiencing:
- Low sexual desire. This is the most common of female sexual dysfunctions involving a lack of sexual interest and willingness to be sexual.
- Sexual arousal disorder. The desire for sex may present, but you have difficulty with arousal or are unable to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity.
- Orgasmic disorder. Persistent or recurrent difficulty in achieving orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal and ongoing stimulation.
- Sexual pain disorder. You experience pain associated with sexual stimulation or vaginal contact.
What causes sexual dysfunction disorders?
Sexual problems can often develop when your hormones are in flux, such as after having a baby or during menopause. If you have had a major illness, such as cancer, diabetes, or heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, these can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.
Factors that are often related to sexual dysfunction disorders:
- Physical. Many medical conditions, including cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and bladder problems, can lead to sexual dysfunction. Certain medications that can interfere with your sexual desire or your ability to achieve an orgasm include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, and chemotherapy drugs.
- Hormonal. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause may lead to changes in your genital tissues and sexual responsiveness. A decrease in estrogen leads to decreased blood flow to the pelvic region, which can result in less genital sensation and need more time to build arousal and reach orgasm.
Vaginal lining becomes thinner and less elastic, particularly if you’re not sexually active. These factors can lead to painful intercourse (dyspareunia). Sexual desire also decreases when hormonal levels decrease.
Your body’s hormone levels also shift after giving birth and during breastfeeding, which can lead to vaginal dryness and can affect your desire to have sex.
- Psychological and social. Untreated anxiety or depression can contribute to sexual dysfunction, as can long-term stress and a history of sexual abuse. Stress during pregnancy and the demands of being a new mother may have similar effects.
Long-standing conflicts with your partner – about sex or other aspects of your relationship – can diminish your sexual responsiveness as well. Cultural and religious issues and problems with body image also can contribute.
When to consult a healthcare provider?
If you experience any of the symptoms of a sexual dysfunction disorder you should consult your healthcare provider. Document the issues you have been experiencing and share your concerns with your doctor. Your physician may also ask you about your health and sexual history. Generally, a pelvic exam is performed and blood tests are ordered.
Treatments will vary depending on your diagnosis. There are nonmedical treatments and medical treatments. Your sexual health is important to your overall health and should not be left untreated. At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we care about our patients and we are here for you at any phase of your life.