Understanding Female Sexual Dysfunction: Types, Causes, and Treatment Options

Understanding Female Sexual Dysfunction: Types, Causes, and Treatment Options

The person who reviewed this article

Written by the Everbliss Editorial Team
Published on 6/16/2023

Sexual health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being and quality of life. However, many women live with sexual difficulties that impact their ability to engage in pleasurable sexual experiences. Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is a term used to describe a range of sexual problems that affect women. Below, we will provide an in-depth understanding of Female Sexual Dysfunction, its types, causes, and treatment options.

In this article, we cover the following:

What is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Female Sexual Dysfunction refers to a range of problematic sexual responses for women that are experienced repeatedly and adversely affecting an individual's level of sexual satisfaction. These problems significantly interfere with sexual activity, causing distress or interpersonal difficulties.

efining Female Sexual Dysfunction

Female Sexual Dysfunction is a term used to describe a range of sexual difficulties that affect women. It is a common problem that affects many women of all ages. The condition can impact different aspects of sexual health, including desire, arousal, orgasm and pain during sex.

Prevalence and Impact on Women's Lives

Female Sexual Dysfunction is a widely prevalent condition, yet it is often under-recognized and under-treated. According to research studies, around 38% to 63% of women suffer from sexual dysfunction, with more than half reporting distress from the condition. The impact of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) goes beyond the bedroom and can lead to other negative consequences like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.

Types of Female Sexual Dysfunction

The four commonly recognized types of Female Sexual Dysfunction are:

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is a condition that involves a lack of sexual desire, arousal, or fantasies related to sexual activity. Individuals with HSDD may have feelings of reduced interest in initiating or responding to sexual activity, even though they may still feel sexual desire or sexual pleasure in some circumstances.

Sexual Arousal Disorder

Sexual Arousal Disorder is a condition where a woman has difficulty becoming sexually aroused despite appropriate sexual stimuli. This can lead to inadequate genital response and reduced sexual pleasure, making the sexual activity less enjoyable.

Orgasmic Disorder

Orgasmic Disorder is a condition where an individual finds it difficult to achieve sexual climax or delay in reaching it. It can make it difficult for individuals to enjoy sexual activity because they are unsatisfied with the level of sexual pleasure they receive.

Sexual Pain Disorder

Sexual Pain Disorder refers to pain experienced during sexual activity. It can occur in different forms, like during intercourse or penetration or even during non-penetrative sexual activity. Pain during sex can be due to physical or psychological causes.

Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction

The causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction can vary widely and are often multifactorial. The underlying cause of sexual dysfunction needs to be addressed to ensure effective treatment. The following are common causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction:

Physical Factors

Physical causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction can include chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. Hormonal imbalances, post-pregnancy changes, menopause, genital injury, or surgery can also be contributing factors.

Psychological Factors

Psychological causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction can include stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a history of sexual abuse. Relationship problems, communication difficulties, or one's partner's sexual dysfunction can also contribute to Female Sexual Dysfunction.

Relationship Factors

Relationship factors can lead to Female Sexual Dysfunction, such as lack of emotional intimacy, communication difficulties, or recurrent disagreements. Sexual incompatibility and adultery can also cause relationship problems and interfere with sexual functioning.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can be a cause of Female Sexual Dysfunction, such as changes from oral contraceptives, pregnancy, and menopause. Changes in estrogen and testosterone levels can also lead to sexual difficulties in women.

Diagnosis and Assessment

To diagnose Female Sexual Dysfunction, a comprehensive medical and sexual history will commonly be taken along with a physical examination. Diagnostic tests may also be used to assess hormonal levels, and psychological evaluations can help to uncover any underlying psychological factors contributing to the condition.

Medical History and Physical Examination

Medical history and physical examination can help identify any underlying physical conditions that might be contributing to Female Sexual Dysfunction. A healthcare provider might also inquire about the use of medications, such as antidepressants or other drugs that can affect sexual functioning.

Psychological Evaluation

A psychologist or mental health provider may conduct a psychological evaluation to assess any underlying psychological causes contributing to Female Sexual Dysfunction. This can involve an in-depth interview, standardized tests, or questionnaires designed to evaluate symptoms, mood, anxiety, stress, and other factors.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests can be used to assess hormonal imbalances linked to Female Sexual Dysfunction. These may include blood or saliva tests to examine hormone levels. Other tests, such as a pelvic ultrasound or MRI, may be used to evaluate pelvic anatomy or identify any underlying physical conditions contributing to the condition.

Treatment Options

Treatment for Female Sexual Dysfunction often depends on the underlying cause. Treatment options are unique to the individual and may include one or a combination of therapies. The following are some potential treatment options:

Medical Treatments

Pharmacological treatment, such as hormone replacement therapy, can be used to address hormonal imbalances that may be causing Female Sexual Dysfunction. Topical treatments, such as hormone creams or vaginal lubricants, can also help to improve vaginal dryness and increase sexual pleasure.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling or psychotherapy can be helpful in addressing underlying psychological causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction. Therapy helps to address psychological factors like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or previous trauma that may be impacting sexual health.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle changes can help to support sexual health. Eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and stress-reduction techniques can all support good sexual health. Kegel exercises can also address issues with genital muscle tone, which can help alleviate stress incontinence and improve sexual pleasure.

Sex Therapy

Sex therapy can be useful in addressing sexual issues within a relationship. Sex therapy can include setting goals for sexual activity, fostering open communication, and developing a mutual understanding of each partner's sexual needs and desires.


Female Sexual Dysfunction can impact women's ability to engage in pleasurable sexual activity and can have a significant impact on their overall well-being. There are various types and causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction. A comprehensive assessment and diagnosis are necessary to identify the underlying cause. Treatment options include medical treatment, counselling and psychotherapy, lifestyle modifications and sex therapy. Seeking medical help and addressing Female Sexual Dysfunction can have a profound impact on women's sexual health and quality of life.


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This article is written for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information provided in the articles cannot and should not replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns or the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.