Sexual Problems

Often, sexual desire is affected by a woman's relationship with her sexual partner. The more a woman enjoys the relationship, the greater her desire for sex. The stresses of daily living can affect desire, however, and occasionally feeling uninterested in sex is no cause for concern. But when sexual fantasies or thoughts and desire for sexual activity are persistently reduced or absent causing distress or relationship difficulties, the problem is known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or inhibited sexual desire disorder. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy estimates hypoactive sexual desire disorder occurs in about 20 percent of women.

Sexual aversion disorder is diagnosed when you avoid all or almost all genital sexual contact with a sexual partner to the point that it causes personal distress and relationship difficulties. This condition may affect women who have experienced some type of sexual abuse, or who grew up in a rigid atmosphere in which sex was taboo. A study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that among patients with panic disorder, 75 percent had sexual problems, and that sexual aversion disorder was the most common complaint, affecting 50 percent of women with the disorder.

Sexual arousal disorder is the persistent or recurrent inability to reach or sustain the lubrication and swelling reaction in the arousal phase of the sexual response to the point that it causes personal distress. It is the second most common sexual problem among women, affecting 15 to 20 percent of women, and most frequently occurs in post menopausal women. Low estrogen levels after menopause can make vaginal tissue dry and thin and reduce blood flow to genitals. As a result, the arousal phase of the sexual response may take longer and sensitivity of the vaginal area may decline. However, this can happen at any age.

Female orgasmic disorder refers to the persistent absence or recurrent delay in orgasm after sufficient stimulation and arousal, causing personal distress. About 10 percent of women never attain an orgasm, regardless of stimulation or situation. About half of women regularly have an orgasm during intercourse, according to the Merck Manual.

Most women are biologically able to experience orgasm. Never having an orgasm, or not having one in certain situations, are problems that can often be resolved by learning how the female body responds, how to ensure adequate stimulation and/or how to overcome inhibitions or anxieties.

Some medications, including but not limited to those used to treat high blood pressure, depression and psychosis, can reduce your sexual desire and sexual arousal and interfere with orgasm. If you are taking such drugs and experiencing sexual side effects, talk with your health care professional about changing your dosage or prescription.

Another type of sexual arousal disorder has the opposite effect. Some women may always feel sexually aroused, an experience that can be quite uncomfortable and upsetting. Although most health care professionals recognize hyperactive sexual desire as a problem, it is not an official condition according to the DMS-IV. Women who have a hyperactive sexual drive tend to be very demanding sexually because their desire for sex is constant.

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