According to a recent survey, it is estimated that approximately 40% of women have some form of sexual dysfunction. In a rapidly liberalised society, this estimate will show a profound increase as more and more women discuss their sexual problems.
Sexual behaviour and response requires the complicated intertwining of environmental, physical (both anatomical and hormonal) and psychological factors. And if you have a problem with sex, you’re not alone.
About 66% of all women have sexual concerns, including lack of desire (33%), problems attaining climax (46%), lack of pleasure in sexual contact (20%), pain with vaginal penetration (15%), problems with arousal (18% to 48%) and complete lack of orgasm (15% to 24%).
Until recently, sexual dysfunction was viewed as a purely psychological problem. Scientists have, however, approached the matter in a more holistic manner, realising that both the mind and body are involved. Only when the problem is persistent and causes personal anxiety does sexual dissatisfaction rise to a dysfunction level.
Four main types of sexual dysfunction can keep a woman from enjoying a satisfying sexual relationship. They are:
- A woman who is passive about sex generally has a lack of desire or libido. She is not the type of woman who would actively seek sexual intercourse. This, however, does not mean that she cannot still become aroused and lubricated and even experience orgasm. Women who are stressed, depressed and are on certain medications usually fall into this category
- Women who rarely feel any sexual excitement or have vaginal lubrication are often labelled as "frigid". These women may be suffering from Female Sexual Arousal Disorder
- A lack of orgasm is not as uncommon as one might believe. This type of sexual dissatisfaction is only considered a dysfunction when a woman doesn't experience an orgasm at any time including during masturbation or sexual intercourse.
- The fourth type is pain during sex. Two of the most common conditions are either dyspareunia (pelvic or vaginal pain with intercourse) or vaginismus (recurrent involuntary spasms of the perineal muscles which prevents all vaginal penetration). Although pain with sex tends to increase after menopause because of a decrease in vaginal lubrication, it can occur at any age.
Underlying physical causes of sexual dysfunction include diabetes, obesity, smoking, nerve damage or declining hormone levels. Emotional problems include depression, stress, a poor body image, past sexual abuse or an unhappy relationship. Combinations of the two, more often than not, play a role in a woman's sexual problems. Further causes are certain medications like anti-depressants or social factors.
What do you do if you suspect you have a sexual problem? Start by making an appointment with your gynaecologist or doctor. If you’re like most women, you might be reluctant or embarrassed to talk with your doctor. Instead, you choose to suffer in silence – perhaps needlessly.
Many sexual problems have simple solutions and are easily treated. So talk to your doctor – you won’t be the first – or the last.