Types and Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction


Female sexual dysfunction is when a woman experiences persistent issues related to:

  • Physical changes or conditions that impact intimacy
  • Having pain during sex that causes distress or a strained intimate relationship
  • Not wanting to have sex
  • Not having an orgasm during sex
  • Not becoming aroused or excited during sex
Common underlying causes can include pregnancy, surgery, cancer, diabetes, menopause, anxiety, depression, or even trauma. There are a number of conditions that can result, all of which can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Vaginal and Urinary Changes

  • Vaginal atrophy, inflammation of the vagina caused by thinning of tissues.
  • Vaginal dryness, decreased lubrication in and around the vagina.
  • Vaginal laxity, when the skin and muscles inside the vaginal canal have loosened, often following childbirth or as part of aging.
  • Vaginismus, when vaginal muscles spasm when something is entering it, like a tampon.
  • Urinary incontinence or leakage

Pain

  • Vulvodynia, when there is chronic pain affecting the labia, clitoris and vaginal opening.
  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Lichen sclerosis, a chronic condition that causes thin, white patches of skin in the genital area.
  • Vaginal burning
  • Pain after trauma to pelvis, due to surgery, personal trauma, injury, or childbirth.
  • Noncoital sexual pain, or genital pain that occurs at times other than sexual intercourse.

Hormonal Concerns

  • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), menopause symptoms that come from having lower levels estrogens and other hormones in the body. GSM can include:
    • burning and irritation in the vagina
    • dryness, discomfort, or pain with intercourse
    • urinary problems
    • hormonal imbalance disorders, related to sex hormones
  • Hypoactive (low interest) sexual desire disorder, a low level of interest in sex that leads to distress.
  • Hyperactive sexual desire disorder, or high interest in sex that leads to distress.
  • Female orgasmic disorder, when there is an inability to achieve orgasm that causes distress.
  • Sexual arousal disorder, a lack or absence of sexual fantasies, desire for sexual activity, and/or inability to maintain sexual arousal response that causes distress.