Gynecologist showing a picture with ultrasound to a young woman patient explaining the features of womens health during a medical consultation in the office

Sexual dysfunction is described as a physical or psychological problem that occurs during any phase of the sexual response cycle and prevents the women or couple from experiencing fulfillment from sexual activity. Sexual dysfunction is a common problem that is most often treatable.

What issues may be characterized as sexual dysfunction?

Women experiencing sexual dysfunction may have an inhibited sexual desire or inability to become aroused that may be influenced by many factors. Sexual dysfunction may also be displayed by lack of orgasm/climax or pain during intercourse. A women may also notice specific symptoms including lack of vaginal lubrication, muscle spasms around the vaginal entrance, or feelings of fear about sexual encounters.

What are the causes sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction issues may be caused by many different factors that are either physical or psychological. Hormonal changes, medications, treatments for gynecological diseases, lack of sufficient stimulation and pregnancy are a few physical factors that may lead to sexual dysfunction. Medical problems such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or a sexually transmitted infection are also physical factors. Psychological factors may include depression, stress/anxiety, past sexual trauma, or lack of experience.

How is sexual dysfunction diagnosed?

Although sexual dysfunction is a common problem, some women may be hesitant to discuss their problem with their gynecologist or partner. If a problem has been going on for a prolonged period of time it is best to visit your doctor for a thorough evaluation of symptoms and a physical exam. The doctor will discuss with you your feelings and attitude related to sex to try and identify any possible contributing factors. The doctor may also perform a pelvic exam to check for any physical abnormalities of the reproductive organs. Further tests such a Pap smear or blood test may be ordered.

Can sexual dysfunction be treated and how?

Most types of sexual dysfunction may be treated after the underlying physical or psychological problem has been discovered. Treatment strategies may include sexual education combined with other treatments. Education on sexual function and anatomy or distraction methods can help women overcome psychological issues that prevent sexual satisfaction. Techniques to enhance sexual stimulation may also be recommended such as masterbation and foreplay or using non-coital stimulation like sensual massage. Physical issues such as painful intercourse may be resolved by changes in sexual position or by adding a vaginal lubricant.

Ask your Family Physician about being referred for a consultation with our Gynecologist.