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Sexual Conditions Health Center

Sexual Problems in Women - Topic Overview

A sexual problem is something that keeps sex from being satisfying or positive.

Most women have symptoms of a sexual problem at one time or another. For some women, the symptoms are ongoing. But your symptoms are only a sexual problem if they bother you or cause problems in your relationship.

There is no "normal" level of sexual response because it's different for every woman. You may also find that what is normal at one stage of your life changes at another stage. For example, it's common for an exhausted mother of a baby to have little interest in sex. And it's common for both women and men to have lower sex drives as they age.

Female sexuality is complicated. At its core is a need for closeness and intimacy. Women also have physical needs. When there is a problem in either the emotional or physical part of your life, you can have sexual problems.

Some common causes include:

  • Emotional causes, such as stress, relationship problems, depression or anxiety, a memory of sexual abuse or rape, and unhappiness with your body.
  • Physical causes, such as hormone problems, pain from an injury or other problem, and certain conditions such as diabetes or arthritis.
  • Aging, which can cause changes in the vagina, such as dryness.
  • Taking certain medicines. Some medicines for depression, blood pressure, and diabetes may cause sexual problems.

Symptoms of sexual problems can include:

  • Having less desire for sex.
  • Having trouble feeling aroused.
  • Not being able to have an orgasm.
  • Having pain during sex.

You may notice a change in desire or sexual satisfaction. When this happens, it helps to look at what is and isn't working in your body and in your life. For example:

  • Are you ill, or do you take a medicine that can lower your sexual desire or response?
  • Are you stressed or often very tired?
  • Do you have a caring, respectful connection with a partner?
  • Do you and your partner have the time and privacy to relax together?
  • Do you have painful memories about sex or intimacy?

Your doctor can help you decide what to do. He or she will ask questions, do a physical exam, and talk to you about possible causes.

It can be hard or embarrassing to talk to your doctor about this. Sometimes it helps to write out what you want to say before you go. For example, you could say something like, "For the past few months, I haven't enjoyed sex as much as I used to." Or you could say, "Ever since I started taking that medicine, I haven't felt like having sex."

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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