Women's Institute for Sexual Health

Sexual Dysfunction

brief followed by full descriptions ... 

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder
Decrease/lack of fantasies and desire for sex

Sexual Aversion Disorder 
Aversion/avoidance of sexual contact with a partner

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder
Inability to attain or maintain sexual excitement

Female Orgasmic Disorder 
Delay/absence of orgasm despite sufficient stimulation

Genital pain associated with sexual intercourse
Involuntary spasm of the vagina that interferes with intercourse

Noncoital Pain Disorder
Genital Pain by sexual stimulation other than intercourse

Persistent Sexual Arousal Disorder
 Unwanted genital arousal in the absence of sexual interest or desire

Sexual Dysfunctions

Female sexual dysfunction occurs when a woman feels that her sex life isn't as satisfying as it could be. And if this is you, you are not alone, because up to 43% of women feel the same way! They confess to some degree of dissatisfaction with their sexual health, usually due to one or more physical or emotional reasons.  In the past, most treatment focused on psychological counseling, but recent work is showing there are also many physical causes and combinations of both as well. Don’t let anyone tell you, “It’s just in your head!” Here at WISH, help, support and solutions are waiting for you! There is rarely a reason why you can’t achieve or regain a full and satisfying sex life! 

Common Complaints:  Our patients often come to us with complaints such as …

“I can’t orgasm” or “I don’t have the kind of orgasms I used to have”

·      “I’m not interested in sex and it worries me” or “I want to have sex but I don’t get aroused or lubricated”

"When I have sex, it’s painful” or “I can't get a penis (or anything else) into my vagina”

“I’m constantly aroused, it won’t go away and it has nothing to do with sex”

Female Sexual Response
Female sexual response is a complex blend of emotional and physical stimuli and female sexual dysfunction is a result of these effects. We are greatly affected by the early messages we received from our family, religion and culture. From a very young age we are bombarded with images and notions of what our bodies should look like and how we should act sexually. Most of these ideas have little bearing on reality, but can have tremendous power over our beliefs and self-image. To truly enjoy sex, you may need to free yourself of preconceived ideas about beauty and sex and learn what feels good to you and what you enjoy. If you are willing to explore and experiment, you can find the kind of sex that feels good to you both physically and emotionally.

There is significant information about female sexual response that we are only beginning to appreciate, including how surgeries, childbirth, illnesses, medications, hormonal changes and aging may affect sexual experience. Research into this area has become more focused in recent years and we are learning more about it every day. 

Lack Of / Low Desire
This is the most common problem and is also known as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Many factors can affect sexual desire, making the diagnosis and treatment complex because it takes into account both physiologic and psychological factors. Unfortunately, many women choose to ignore this. Let's face it: it's easier to ignore low sexual desire than it might be to ignore pain. But, over time, having a low libido or no desire for sex can impact a woman's sense of identity, her self-confidence and her general enjoyment of life and her relationships. Addressing low libido, and treating it, has a happy ending in nearly every case. 

 What makes desire ‘low’ is very personal, everyone has their own threshold for how much sex they want, need and can fit into their life. This threshold also changes over our lifetime, depending on our schedule, partner, children and other factors.

 There is only a problem if YOU would like your desire to be different than it currently is. If you feel sad, because either once upon a time you wanted sex more often and you liked that alive feeling the desire gave you, or you have begun to feel distant from your partner and you know that sex more often would make a difference, or your low desire is causing emotional pain to a partner you love and want to make happy, this low desire is a serious problem, and we at WISH are here to help you!

 Remember that only you know if you have low desire. Only you can tell if your current desire for sex doesn't fit into the life you want and have planned for yourself. And only you can make the commitment to help yourself. Much as we'd love to help you, if you come in to WISH only because your partner is pushing you, it will be hard to help you. Now, that's different than coming in because you want to help the relationship. Even though you don't feel any need to have more desire (and that's the complicated equation for many women in this situation), you truly want to change the situation. 

Painful Sex (before, during, or after intercourse)
There are a number of different types of pain a woman may experience before, during, or after sex and it is important to identify the source of the pain. This is usually difficult for you to do by yourself. Once examined, we can differentiate between the sources of the pain, and one or more conditions can be identified. You do not have to suffer anymore! At WISH, we have helped many women with pain!

Female Orgasmic Disorder (delay or absence of orgasm)
If you have never experienced orgasm, you are not alone. Many women have not, but for most, it is something that can be learned. When we speak of never having had an orgasm, we mean by any method of stimulation including masturbation, manual or oral, vibrator or intercourse. Contrary to popular myth, most women do not achieve orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone. Sex is about much more than orgasm, and there are people with satisfying sex lives who do not experience orgasm. But for many, it can be physically and emotionally frustrating not to have one. Orgasms are a natural release of sexual tension and a sense of well-being or relief often follows.

Just because you have never experienced an orgasm, doesn't mean that you can't. The first step should be to have a physical evaluation to make sure that there is no medical problem. Low hormone levels, poor blood circulation and lack of lubrication can all contribute to a women’s inability to experience an orgasm. Some of these can be caused by certain medical conditions, medications or surgeries. There are also women who are blocked psychologically from experiencing orgasm. For some reason, at this time in their lives, they are facing situations or relationships where it may be difficult to let go or experience pleasure. This can be explored further at WISH. It cannot be stressed enough that this takes time and patience and cannot be rushed or pressured. And remember that your body doesn’t respond mechanically. Your mind and body are in this together!

Sexual Arousal Disorders
The changes that take place in the body when you become sexually aroused include subtle alterations that we may not notice as well as more obvious ones. These usually include: vaginal wetness, vulvar swelling, tingling in the vaginal area, nipple erection or goose bumps. In some women, these changes are not taking place and in other women the changes may take place but they are not aware of them. Some women are in a constant state of sexual arousal, experiencing these changes all the time, without relief. Sexual arousal disorders can be detrimental to a women's sense of self. They may also be chronic, or something that has just become noticeable, and is affecting her relationships and day-to-day life. Whether the cause is physiological, medical, psychological, or emotional, we here at WISH can help!

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder  (“When I start having sex I don't seem to get wet” or “I don't feel any ‘good’ feelings”)
The lack of sexual arousal can, after a time, become seriously detrimental to a woman's sense of self and sexuality. This may be a chronic condition or something that is just beginning to be noticeable because it is affecting her relationship. In addition, this arousal disorder may be accompanied by a change in sexual desire and orgasm. The cause of this arousal disorder can vary tremendously and it is important for a woman to thoroughly explore the psychosocial and physical elements involved. Working with us here at WISH, we can identify any cause(s) and initiate treatment(s) that may include a combination of hormones, medications, devices or counseling.

Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS)
PSAS is a condition occurring in some women who have a constant feeling of being sexually aroused and are unable to release it. The arousal is unrelated to any erotic thoughts or any feelings of sexual desire and can be intense and persist for days or even weeks. Orgasm may release it temporarily but the feeling comes right back. It can be terribly debilitating and is often accompanied by depression or feelings of distress. If you suffer from this, you should know that you are not alone and you can get help. Knowing that it isn't "all in your head" or something "you can be thankful for" will help you on your way to dealing with this condition. We here at WISH are familiar with this syndrome and will work with you to help you reduce the pain, stress and discomfort. 


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