Posts Tagged ‘inhibited sexual desire’

Female Sexual Dysfunction-Women, You Can Be Helped

January 20, 2013

It is of interest that women have just as many sexual problems as men. In the past 15 years, more attention has been given to male sexual problems, mostly erectile dysfunction, as medications have been available for treating this common condition. Now women with decreased desire, decreased lubrication, decrased aroiusal, and lack of orgasm can now be treated.

What Causes Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction in women can be a result of a physical and\or psychological problem.

Physical causes. Many physical and/or medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease, neurological diseases, hormonal imbalances, menopause plus such chronic diseases as kidney disease or liver failure, and alcoholism or drug abuse. In addition, the side effects of certain medications, including some antidepressant drugs, can affect sexual desire and function.
Psychological causes. These include work-related stress and anxiety, concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression, feelings of guilt, or the effects of a past sexual trauma.

The most common problems related to sexual dysfunction in women include:

Inhibited sexual desire. This involves a lack of sexual desire or interest in sex. Many factors can contribute to a lack of desire, including hormonal changes associated with menopause, medical conditions and treatments (for example, cancer and chemotherapy), depression, pregnancy, stress, and fatigue. Boredom with regular sexual routines also may contribute to a lack of enthusiasm for sex, as can lifestyle factors, such as careers and the care of children.
Inability to become aroused. For women, the inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity often involves insufficient vaginal lubrication. This inability also may be related to anxiety or inadequate stimulation.
Lack of orgasm. An absence of orgasm can be caused by a woman’s sexual inhibition, inexperience, lack of knowledge, and psychological factors such as guilt, anxiety, or a past sexual trauma or abuse. Other factors contributing to an absent orgasm include insufficient stimulation, certain medications, and chronic diseases.
Painful intercourse. Pain during intercourse can be caused by pelvic organ prolapse, endometriosis, a pelvic mass, ovarian cysts, vaginitis, poor lubrication, the presence of scar tissue from surgery, or a sexually transmitted disease. A condition called vaginismus is a painful, involuntary spasm of the muscles that surround the vaginal entrance. It may occur in women who fear that penetration will be painful and also may stem from a sexual phobia or from a previous traumatic or painful experience.

The diagnosis of female sexual dysfunction begins with a physical exam and a thorough evaluation of symptoms. The doctor performs a pelvic exam to evaluate the health of the reproductive organs and a Pap smear to detect changes in the cells of the cervix (to check for cancer or a pre-cancerous condition).

An evaluation of your attitudes regarding sex, as well as other possible contributing factors (such as fear, anxiety, past sexual trauma/abuse, relationship problems, or alcohol or drug abuse) will help the doctor understand the underlying cause of the problem and make appropriate treatment recommendations.

Treatment of Female Sexual Dysfunction

Most types of sexual problems can be corrected by treating the underlying physical or psychological problems which include:

Providing education. Education about human anatomy, sexual function, and the normal changes associated with aging, as well as sexual behaviors and appropriate responses, may help a woman overcome her anxieties about sexual function and performance.
Enhancing stimulation. This may include the use of erotic materials (videos or books), masturbation, and changes in sexual routines.
Providing distraction techniques. Erotic or non-erotic fantasies; exercises with intercourse; music, videos, or television can be used to increase relaxation and eliminate anxiety.
Encouraging non-coital behaviors. Non-coital behaviors (physically stimulating activity that does not include intercourse), such as sensual massage, can be used to promote comfort and increase communication between partners.
Minimizing pain. Using sexual positions that allow the woman to control the depth of penetration may help relieve some pain. Vaginal lubricants can help reduce pain caused by friction, and a warm bath before intercourse can help increase relaxation.

The success of treatment for female sexual dysfunction depends on the underlying cause of the problem. The outlook is good for dysfunction that is related to a treatable or reversible physical condition. Mild dysfunction that is related to stress, fear, or anxiety often can be successfully treated with counseling, education, and improved communication between partners.

Hormones play an important role in regulating sexual function in women. With the decrease in the female hormone estrogen that is related to aging and menopause, many women experience some changes in sexual function as they age, including poor vaginal lubrication and decreased genital sensation. Low levels of the male hormone testosterone also contribute to a decline in sexual arousal, genital sensation, and orgasm. Women can use a topical gel containing testosterone or receive a small pellet of testosterone, the size of a grain of rice, placed under the skin which can result in enhancement of their libido and sex drive.

Many women experience changes in sexual function after a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). These changes may include a loss of desire, and decreased vaginal lubrication and genital sensation. These problems may be associated with the hormonal changes that occur with the loss of the uterus. Furthermore, nerves and blood vessels critical to sexual function can be damaged during the surgery.

The loss of estrogen following menopause can lead to changes in a woman’s sexual functioning. Emotional changes that often accompany menopause can add to a woman’s loss of interest in sex and/or ability to become aroused. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or vaginal lubricants may improve certain conditions, such as loss of vaginal lubrication and genital sensation, which can create problems with sexual function in women.

I think it is important to mention that some postmenopausal women report an increase in sexual satisfaction. This may be due to decreased anxiety over getting pregnant. In addition, postmenopausal woman often have fewer child-rearing responsibilities, allowing them to relax and enjoy intimacy with their partners.

Bottom Line: Many women experience a problem with sexual function from time to time. However, when the problems are persistent, they can cause distress for the women and her partner, and can have a negative impact on their relationship. If you consistently experience these problems, see your doctor for evaluation and treatment.

For more information on women’s health, I suggest my new book, What’s Going On Down There-Everything You Need To KnowAbout Your Pelvic Health. the book is available from Amazon.com

New book on women's health

New book on women’s health

Low Sexual Desire-When It Isn’t All You Want It To Be

April 22, 2010

Has your desire for sex and sexual intimacy gone into the tank?  Are you having fewer thoughts about engaging in sexual intimacy with your partner?  If so, you may be suffering hypoactive sexual dysfunction.  You might take comfort in knowing that this is a common problem that affects both men (35%) and women (45%).  That’s the bad news.  It is a problem that most who suffer from decreased sexual desire will not share with their partner or with their doctor.  The good news is that help is on the way and many who suffer from this common problem can be helped.  In this article I will discuss the causes of decreased sexual desire and what treatment options are available.

Causes of low sexual desire

Low sex desire is a very common sexual disorder.  It occurs when one partner does not feel intimate or close to the other.  Often the problem is result of a diminished affection for the other partner, power struggles between the two partners and not having enough time to be alone in order to be intimate.  Low desire can also be a result of a strict or religious background where sexual intimacy is often associated with scorn and negativity.  The problem can also occur when there is a history of sexual trauma at an earlier age or sexual abuse by a parent or relative.  Lack of desire is also associated with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid deficiency, and arthritis.  Drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption are culprits in causing decreased sexual desire.  There are literally hundreds of medications that are associated with the side effect of inhibited sexual desire.  These include anti-depressants, Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac.  Hormone deficiency is another common culprit such as a decreased testosterone in men and decreased estrogen in women as is so common following menopause or surgical removal of the ovaries.  In addition to these physical causes of decreased sexual desire, there are psychological conditions such as depression, stress, fatigues, lack of sleep, and lifestyle problems such as career changes and martial discord that can be a primary cause or can contribute to the problem.  Finally, there is a problem referred to as fear of failure that impacts both men and women.  If a man has impotence, premature ejaculation, restarted ejaculation or a women has painful intercourse or does achieve an orgasm can lose interest because they don’t want to experience repeated failure and embarrassment in the bedroom.

Treatment of decreased sexual desire

If the problem is due to estrogen deficiency, then your doctor can simply order estrogen replacement therapy which includes either oral medication or topical vaginal creams or suppositories that can restore the vaginal lining to a normal state.

If the problem of decreased libido is a side effect of medication, your doctor can reduce the dosage of your existing medication or change to another class of medication that is not associated with diminishing sexual desire.

Wellbutrin has been reported to improve symptoms of low sexual desire in women.  The reports are that nearly a third of the women will experience a doubling of their interest in sexual activity after using Wellbutrin.  Although Wellbutrin is an anti-depressant, the drug was shown to be effective in women without depression and only complaining of decreased sexual desire.

Psychotherapy has also been shown to be helpful in managing low sexual desire.  For women who are in a stable relationship, the therapist explores problems with communication between the partners or provide advice and education to enhance sexual stimulation by the woman’s partner.

On the horizon is a new drug that may just be the female equivalent of Viagra.  The drug is specially used for treating decreased sexual desire.  If you are interested in participating in research study involving this new medication, call 504 891-8454 to see if you qualify to participate in the study.

When to call the doctor?

If you are not satisfied with your current level of sexual desire and intimacy and you find that the remedies suggested in the tabloids and other self-help publications are not effective, you should consider consulting with your doctor so that they might identify physical and\or psychological causes that are treatable.

Bottom Line:  Decreased sexual desire is a common condition in both men and women.  Fortunately, most of those who suffer from decreased sexual desire can be helped.  If you are one of these men or women, share this article with your partner and make an appointment to see your doctor.