Sexual (Sex) Problems in Women (cont.)

Can Female Sexual Problems Be Cured?

The success of treatment for female sexual dysfunction depends on the underlying cause of the problem. The outlook is good for sexual problems related to a treatable or reversible physical condition. Mild dysfunction that is related to stress, fear, or anxiety often can be successfully treated with counseling, education, and improved communication between partners.

How Do Hormones Affect Sexual Function?

Hormones play an important role in regulating sexual function in women. With the decrease in the female hormone estrogen that is related to aging and menopause, many women experience some changes in sexual function as they age, including poor vaginal lubrication and decreased genital sensation. Further, research suggests that low levels of the male hormone testosterone also contribute to a decline in sexual arousal, genital sensation, and orgasm. Researchers still are investigating the benefits of hormones and other medications, including drugs like Viagra, to treat sexual problems in women.

What Effect Does a Hysterectomy Have on Sexual Function?

Many women experience changes in sexual function after a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). These changes may include a loss of desire as well as decreased vaginal lubrication and genital sensation. These problems may be associated with the hormonal changes that occur with the loss of the uterus. Furthermore, nerves and blood vessels critical to sexual function can be damaged during the surgery.

How Does Menopause Affect a Woman's Sexual Function?

The loss of estrogen following menopause can lead to changes in a woman's sexual functioning. Emotional changes that often accompany menopause can add to a woman's loss of interest in sex and/or ability to become aroused. Hormone replacement therapy -- HRT -- may improve certain conditions, such as loss of vaginal lubrication and genital sensation, which can create problems with sexual function.

It should be noted that some postmenopausal women report an increase in sexual satisfaction. This may be due to decreased anxiety over getting pregnant. In addition, postmenopausal woman often have fewer child-rearing responsibilities, allowing them to relax and enjoy intimacy with their partners.

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