Women's Health (cont.)

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Sexuality deals with a woman's sexual attitudes and practices. During her lifetime, a woman goes through many changes, not only in her body, but perhaps also in attitude and lifestyle.

The sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, have a profound influence on a woman's sex life. Women also produce testosterone and may need it for sexual arousal. In humans, the sexual impulse is not tied to reproduction and women will engage in sexual activity even when they are not fertile.

Little is known about what facilitates or inhibits feminine sexual arousal. It is estimated that 50 million American women have difficulty with sexual arousal. Problems include low sexual desire, sexual aversion, difficulty with sexual arousal (like impotence in men) and pain during intercourse (dyspareunia).

Physical exercise may increase sexual arousal whereas chronic illness, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, or depression can inhibit sexual arousal. Alcohol and certain drugs such as tranquilizers can also inhibit the sexual response.

Following the success of sildenafil (Viagra) and other male impotence drugs, there is considerable research now being conducted on drugs that improve blood flow to the vagina and the vaginal region which may assist female sexual arousal.

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