Sexual problems in women

A sexual problem can be a temporary or a long-term decrease in or lack of sexual satisfaction. The symptoms of sexual problems in women include a decreased level of desire, an inability to become aroused or to have an orgasm, and/or painful intercourse.

The causes of a woman's sexual problem are often interrelated and involve physical and psychological factors. Physical causes may include hormonal imbalances, pain due to injury or anatomical problems, diabetes, and side effects of medication. Psychological causes include stress, marital discord, and previous sexual trauma. In addition, aging causes changes in the vagina, such as stiffening and a decrease in lubrication.

Sexual problems affect up to 40% of women, most commonly young women, and tend to decrease with age. Women often recognize a sexual problem by noting an absence or change in the level of sexual desire or satisfaction.

An effective treatment plan will address and manage the cause of a sexual problem and then build and strengthen the intimate communications between you and your partner.

Last Updated: March 11, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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