Female Sexual Dysfunction

General sexual dysfunction is defined as the inability to become excited or aroused. It can be compared to erectile dysfunction (often known as impotence in the past) in men. Psychologically there is a lack of erotic feelings and physically there is no swelling or lubrication in the vagina.

What causes female sexual dysfunction?

  • In some women it may be caused by trying to have intercourse too quickly.
  • Being sexually stimulated in ways other than sexual intercourse or foreplay is needed for a woman to feel aroused and for her vagina to lubricate.
  • Sometimes she may be too tired or stressed or have feelings of guilt around the act of intercourse.
  • For other women the answer may not be simple. There may be a physical reason, which requires the woman to speak to a health care professional.

top of page

What can be done to treat sexual dysfunction?

  • Treatment depends on the cause of the problem.
  • Having a good understanding of female sexual organs and sexual response is helpful.
  • Knowing what excites you and communicating this to your partner is also useful.
  • It is best to seek the help and advice of a sex therapist if the problem interferes with your relationship.
  • Treatment is aimed at helping the woman explore and stimulate her own body in a relaxed, non-demanding way.

top of page

What is anorgasmia?

  • Anorgasmia is defined as difficulty or absence of orgasm.
  • Most women who suffer from this have a sexual desire, their vaginas lubricate and swell but they are unable to reach orgasm.
  • Many women have difficulty reaching orgasm through penetration alone but are able to have an orgasm when the clitoris is stimulated.

top of page

What can be done about anorgasmia?

  • First of all it’s important to realize that it is very normal not to experience an orgasm with every act of sexual play.
  • It is also very natural to only be able to reach orgasm through directly stimulating the clitoris.
  • Some women, but certainly not all, can have an orgasm with penetration, but do not worry if you are not one of these women.
  • Physically, the orgasm you reach through any method of stimulation is the same.
  • If you have never reached an orgasm or feel that it is interfering with your sexual enjoyment then speak to a doctor or sex therapist.

top of page

What is vaginismus?

  • Vaginismus is defined as involuntary spasms of the muscles surrounding the lower third of the vagina.
  • Whenever vaginal penetration is attempted, the vaginal opening closes so tightly that intercourse is difficult or impossible.

top of page

What causes vaginismus?

  • Vaginismus may have a psychological or physical cause.
  • Psychologically a woman may be fearful of intercourse or vaginal penetration for any number of reasons.
  • It may be that she does not want or cannot handle the sexual situation, or it may have developed as a reaction to sexual trauma.
  • She may also be afraid of possible pregnancy and childbirth.
  • If the muscle spasm is physical in nature it may be due to a firm hymen, displaced uterus, endometriosis, hemorrhoids, or trauma from childbirth.
  • Whatever the reason for the condition, many women with vaginismus have normal sexual desire and are sexually responsive.
  • They may be able to have an orgasm with clitoral stimulation.
  • The disorder is uncommon but can have a devastating effect on both the woman and her partner. She may feel frustrated and her partner may feel rejected.

top of page

What can be done about vaginismus?

  • Treatment is aimed at getting rid of the involuntary muscle spasms. Depending on the cause of vaginismus, different techniques may be used.
  • The woman and her partner may require counselling around past issues or the current relationship.
  • She will likely require help in learning how to relax her vaginal muscles. First, in the privacy of her own home the woman is encouraged to view her vagina using a mirror. She will be asked to take turns tightening and relaxing her vaginal muscles.
  • Next she will be instructed to gently insert a series of plastic dilators. These dilators range in size from smaller than a baby finger to the size of an erect penis. The woman inserts them using lots of lubrication. She only moves up to the next size when she feels comfortable.
  • When the woman feels comfortable inserting the largest dilator she is then encouraged to have sexual intercourse with her partner. It is important for the woman to feel in control during penetration. A good position for this is "woman on top". In this position she can control how quickly penetration occurs as well as the rate and depth.

top of page

What can I do about painful intercourse?

  • Pain can occur at any point during sexual intercourse: with entry, during thrusting or penetration, with orgasm, or when intercourse is finished.
  • The pain can be due to several factors and depends on when the pain occurs, how intense it is, how long it lasts, etc.
  • Since there is such a wide range of possibilities, that can cause the pain, it is best to speak to your health care professional for treatment.

top of page

top of page