Female Sexual Dysfunction


Sexuality in a woman involves a complex variety of factors including emotional, physical and psychosocial elements, which in turn involve the vascular, endocrine and neurologic systems.  A disruption in any of these systems can result in female sexual dysfunction, or FSD.

Women suffering from FSD are divided into four distinct categories:

  1. Those who lack sex drive.

  2. Those with adequate sex drive, but who have difficulty becoming aroused or remaining aroused.

  3. Those who have difficulty in achieving orgasm.

  4. Those who experience pain during vaginal contact or sexual stimulation.

Causes of FSD

This condition can be caused by hormonal imbalances, physical problems, or psychological and social issues.  Some of the conditions which can cause FSD include:

Medications can also cause FSD.  These can include antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapy drugs. 

Psychological issues due to poor body image, stress, relationship problems, depression, cultural or religious norms, and past or ongoing abuse can result in FSD.

Estrogen and testosterone deficiencies, which can take place after a hysterectomy or menopause, can cause changes to the genitals that may cause pain or reduce sensitivity.  In such cases, the vaginal lining may become thin and have difficulty in becoming or staying lubricated.  Low levels of hormones can also diminish sexual desire.


FSD cannot always be prevented.  However, maintaining a healthy weight and indulging in regular exercise can lead to a positive body image and enhance a woman's sexual desire.  Being aware that sexual response is a mind and body connection can help a woman and her sexual partner deal openly with relationship issues. 

Allowing adequate time for sexual arousal also helps to prevent sexual dysfunction.


The first steps of proper diagnosis involve going over the woman's medical history and performing a physical examination.  The medical history can help the physician pinpoint the cause of the dysfunction.  A physical exam of the genitals can help identify any abnormalities or diseases. 

Cultures and vaginal samples will be obtained if the physician suspects a cervical infection, vaginitis or inflammation.  Tenderness on the pelvic floor may indicate either involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles or a chronic inflammation of the vestibular glands.


The cause of the condition will dictate the treatment.  These can include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy - Levels of estrogen or testosterone may need to be restored.

  • Physical therapy - Kegel exercises can strengthen the vaginal muscles.  Vaginal dilators and exercise can be used to treat vaginismus.

  • Psychotherapy - Psychological or social issues contributing to this dysfunction need to be addressed.

  • Medications - Women who have vestibulitis may respond well to high-dose steroid creams.  Other women may need treatments for yeast infections.  A low-dose antidepressant medication may help women with melancholy or mild symptoms of depression.

  • Diet - A healthy, balanced diet can provide the energy needed for sexual appetite and stamina.  Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, cigarettes and drugs.

  • Relaxation - When nerves are on edge, relaxing with music can be an effective solution.

  • Masturbation - This can be useful for some women to "practice" on their own, with no inhibitions, to learn and enjoy their own body.  This allows a woman to discover her physical and mental limitations without embarrassment or psychological burdens.

  • Yoga - Keeping the body flexible through yoga can increase sexual pleasure.  Also, yoga can relieve stress and tension which may be inhibiting the woman psychologically.


  1. Bratman, S. (1998). The Alternative Medicine Ratings Guide: an expert panel rates the best treatments for over 80 conditions. New York: Crown Publishing Group (1998)
  2. Brown, L. (1999). Alternative Medicine. London : Teach Yourself
  3. Deepak Chopra, M.D. (2002). Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Puyallup, Wash. : Future Medicine Pub.
  4. Duke, J. (2003). The Green Pharmacy: Herbal remedies for common diseases and conditions from the world's foremost authority on healing herbs. London : Rodale
  5. Servan-Schreiber, D.(2006). The Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional & Alternative Medicine For All Ages. London : Rodale

Posted in Female Sexual Dysfunction

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