What is Sexual Dysfunction?
Ongoing problems with your sexual response, desire or the inability to reach orgasm can strain your relationship with your partner. It’s not unusual for women to experience problem with sexual response at some point in their lives. It can occur at any stage of your life and in some sexual situation or in all sexual situations. Sexual response is complex and includes physiology, lifestyle, relationships, emotions and experiences. Sexual problems can often develop when your hormones are in flux, such as after you have a baby, during menopause or if you have a major illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart or cardiovascular disease. Certain medications such as antidepressants or high blood pressure medications can affect sexual response. A history of sexual abuse can also be a factor.
If sexual problems are persistent and affect your relationship or worry you, it’s time to make an appointment with your St. John’s Physician Partners gynecologist. We can help.
Sexual Dysfunction Symptoms
The most common problems with sexual dysfunction include:
- Lack of sexual desire or interest
- Inability to become aroused
- Decrease in vaginal lubrication
- Lack of orgasm
- Painful intercourse
- Emotional distress
Sexual Dysfunction Diagnosis
To diagnose sexual dysfunction it’s important to recognize you need help and to talk candidly with your gynecologist about what’s bothering you. Your doctor will take your medical history and discuss your symptoms, then will do a physical exam including a pelvic exam to evaluate the health of your reproductive organs and a Pap test to detect changes to the cells of the cervix to rule out cancer or pre-cancerous conditions. After evaluating the possible physical causes, your doctor will evaluate your attitude regarding sex including fear, anxiety, relationship problems, and alcohol or drug abuse, and past sexual trauma. These factors will help your doctor understand all the possible causes for your sexual dysfunction in order to tailor a treatment plan.
Sexual Dysfunction Treatments
A treatment plan for your sexual dysfunction begins with your first visit. Sometimes talking about it and knowing that help is available can go a long way towards positive resolution. Treating sexual dysfunction is a team effort with you, your doctor, other specialists and your partner, if appropriate. Treatments may include:
- Treating the physical causes that hamper sexual response
- Education about sexual function, anatomy, sexual behaviors and responses may help you overcome your anxieties.
- Using erotic materials such as videos or books may increase stimulation as well as masturbation and changes to sexual routines
- Creating distraction techniques such as fantasies to increase relaxation and decrease anxiety
- Non-coital behaviors such as physical stimulation like gentle touching and sensual massage that doesn’t include intercourse. This can increase comfort and better communications between partners
- Minimizing pain during intercourse by varying sexual positions to control the depth of penetration as well as the use of vaginal lubrication