As our article series focusing on patient education in gynaecological ailments, let’s have a look at how you can manage female sexual dysfunction.
We term any disorder that interferes with a woman’s sexuality and causes her worrisome distress as female sexual dysfunction.
Four types of disorders comprise female sexual dysfunction: disorders of desire, disorders of arousal, disorders of orgasm, and disorders related to sexual pain.
There are many causes of female sexual dysfunction. The common ones are chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and urinary disorders.
Drugs like antidepressants and blood pressure medications can interfere with orgasm.
Gynaecologic and hormonal conditions like after pregnancy, after menopause, and cancer of the cervix, uterus, or breast, can lead to sexual dysfunction.
Psychological issues that may lead to female sexual dysfunction include religion, taboos, guilt, relationship problems, rape or abuse, depression, and stress.
Loss of desire, painful sex, no orgasms, feeling guilt or shame, depression, anxiety, and insomnia are some of the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction.
A diagnosis is made based on medical history and physical examination, which may include a pelvic exam.
A clinician can order blood tests to rule thyroid disorders or diabetes.
Many times, this requires a team of specialists, including a gynaecologist, psychologist or psychiatrist or social services to handle the different causes of the dysfunction.
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Treatment depends on the cause.
When a drug is a culprit, a clinician can suggest a change in its dosing or other medication.
For women in menopause who complain of painful sexual intercourse due to vaginal dryness can use water-based lubricants and estrogen creams.
In cases of severe arthritis, changing sex positions and taking naproxen or ibuprofen before intercourse may help.
Other modalities include education, psychotherapy, and activities for better stimulation, as well as changing routines.
Behavioural treatments like couple’s therapy can often get to the bottom of the relationship problems.
In many instances, a combination of treatment modalities works best.
DOs and DON’Ts in managing female sexual dysfunction
- Do talk and listen to your partner. Be open and honest.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle: start exercising. Take time for fun and relaxation.
- Do exercise your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises) to strengthen them. It can help with some arousal and orgasm problems. To do these exercises, tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping the stream of urine. Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat.
- Do get counselling if needed. Your health care provider can refer you to a sex therapist or counsellor specializing in sexual and relationship problems.
- Learn more about your body and how it works. Talk to your health care provider about how many things can affect sex. These include medicines, illnesses, surgery, age, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Do remember that many things together make the sexual response work. These factors include emotions, experiences, beliefs, lifestyles, and relationships. Problems with any one of these can affect sexual arousal or satisfaction.
- Don’t abuse alcohol.
- Don’t smoke.
Credit goes to the Ferri’s Netter patient advisor for the provision of this information.
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