What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)?
Many women have low sex drives or trouble having orgasms. Though some women are not bothered by this, others find it damaging to their confidence and overall happiness. A woman has female sexual dysfunction, also called FSD, when she is upset or unhappy about her sexual health. Studies show that about 33% of American women have low sex drives. Of those, about one in three women, or 10% have an active interest in improving their sex drives.
The most common symptoms associated with female sexual dysfunction are:
- Low sexual desire
- Trouble becoming aroused
- Trouble having an orgasm
- Pain during sex
A woman might have more than one of these issues, which are often interrelated. Sexual dysfunction can be lifelong or temporary. It can happen all the time, only with a certain partner, or only at certain times, such as after pregnancy.
A healthy sex life depends on a complex mix of many factors. The same is true for a troubled sex life. Health issues, certain prescription medicines, changes in hormone levels, partner or family issues, and psychological concerns can all contribute to FSD.
What Are the Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction?
General Physical Issues
- Health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or alcohol abuse.
- Medication used to treat high blood pressure, depression, pain; oral contraceptives.
- Medical conditions such as endometriosis, cystitis, pelvic muscle problems, or chronic pelvic pain.
- Pelvic or genital surgeries that cause scarring, decreased blood flow, or nerve damage to the genital area.
- A drop in estrogen levels from menopause (natural or surgical) or premature ovarian failure (when the ovaries stop working before age 40), which can cause vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
- Possibly, a drop in levels of testosterone, which women produce in small amounts, after removal of the ovaries.
Psychological and Emotional
- Mental distress such as stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, past sexual abuse, fear of unwanted pregnancy.
- Relationship issues such as boredom, anger, or abuse (physical or emotional).
- Religious or cultural beliefs surrounding sex.
What Treatments Are Available for FSD?
Choice of treatment depends on the cause of your problems. Often, a combination of treatments works best. If you have a medical condition that is causing your FSD, talk with Drs. Kimble and Kimble about what can be done. Some treatments that may be effective include:
Talking and Counseling: Consider talking with your partner about what’s going on. Sometimes a better line of communication is all that is needed. If necessary, you may want to get counseling, by yourself or with your partner. Sex therapy, usually a later step in the process, can also be helpful.
Lifestyle Changes: Some women find that losing weight, eating a healthier diet, exercising, stopping smoking, and getting enough sleep helps increase their sense of well-being and interest in sex. Try finding ways to be comfortable with your own sexuality. This may involve thinking about your attitudes toward sex when you were growing up, finding ways to improve your self-esteem, and accepting your body as it is.
Managing Medicines: If certain medications are causing problems, your doctor might be able to change your prescription. Other medications can also help.
Estrogen: Estrogen can help with vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Two types of prescription estrogen are available: local (vaginal) and whole-body (systemic).
- Local estrogen comes in very low doses and is inserted into the vagina as a cream or tablet. It also comes in the form of a vaginal ring. Local treatment doesn’t have the health risks of whole-body estrogen because only small amounts of estrogen reach the bloodstream.
- Whole-body estrogen, also called hormone therapy, is taken as a pill, skin patch, gel, or spray. Because it affects the whole body, it has some health risks, such as stroke and blood clots. These events are rare in healthy women using hormone therapy close to menopause. Women who have not had a hysterectomy also need to take progestin, another female hormone, to prevent uterine cancer.
- Non-prescription treatments, which are hormone-free and have few side effects can help. They include moisturizers applied to the vagina several times a week or lubricants for the vagina, used just before intercourse.
- Though most research does not correlate with testosterone levels when it comes to FSD, Testosterone, when used short-term (a year or two), may increase sex drive in some women.
Devices: Some prescription devices can help with arousal by increasing blood flow to the genital area and enhancing sensation.
Female Sexual Dysfunction Treatment in Pasadena, CA
At Women’s Center for Pelvic Wellness, expert urogynecologists, Dr. Alexis May Kimble and Dr. David Kimble can help determine a treatment plan for FSD. Call the office at (626) 535-0832 or book an appointment using the form below to feel more like yourself again.