Female Sexual Problems

A sexual problem, or sexual dysfunction, refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common (43% of women and 31% of men report some degree of difficulty), it is a topic that many people are hesitant to discuss. Fortunately, most cases of sexual dysfunction are treatable, so it is important to share your concerns with your partner and doctor.

What Causes Sexual Problems?

Sexual dysfunction can be a result of a physical or psychological problem.

  • Physical causes: Many physical and/or medical conditions can cause sexual problems. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease, neurological diseases, hormonal imbalances, menopause, chronic diseases such as kidney disease or liver failure, and alcoholism and drug abuse. In addition, the side effects of certain medications, including some antidepressant drugs, can affect sexual desire and function.


  • Psychological causes: These include work-related stress and anxiety, concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression, feelings of guilt, and the effects of a past sexual trauma.

Who Is Affected by Sexual Problems?

Both men and women are affected by sexual problems. Sexual problems occur in adults of all ages. Among those commonly affected are those in seniors, which may be related to a decline in health associated with aging.

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Symptoms and Treatment of Female Sexual Problems

When Desire Dies: Bringing Your Sex Drive Back to Life

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

"I used to enjoy making love with my husband but now it's something I do just to get him off my case. I can't figure out where my sexdrive went or how to get it back. "

"Once my partner and I 'get started,' I really enjoy our sex life. The problem is I just don't ever want to get started."

"I always thought my husband and I would be making love until we were 90. But I just turned 39 and my libido is nowhere to be found."

If these sexual issues sound familiar, you're clearly not alone. Experts say that a lack of interest in making love -- even with partners we adore in many other ways -- is not as unusual as we might think.

"A disappearing sex drive is a common problem -- sometimes in womenas young as her 30's -- and while it hasn't reached epidemic proportions yet, I think we're only seeing a small portion of the women who are affected," says Rebecca Amaru, MD, a gynecologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Indeed, in one global study of sexual problems published recently in the Journal of ImpotenceResearch, up to 43% of women expressed a loss of sexual desire, beginning as young as age 40. Similarly, up to 36% of women who were having sex reported they weren't enjoying it.