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Sexual Conditions Health Center

Sexual Problems in Women - What Happens

Many things in a woman's life can lead to a sexual problem. Over time, an untreated sexual problem can have a growing impact on your quality of life. If the problem makes you feel uncomfortable and/or unsatisfied, sex can become a tense and unwelcome experience.

Physical influences

Women normally experience a physical change during sexual arousal, as blood swells areas of the vulva. If those areas aren't stimulated enough, a woman may not feel as much sexual pleasure.

Chronic (ongoing) illnesses, such as diabetes and arthritis, can affect sexual desire, enjoyment, and performance. Medicines for many medical conditions also affect desire and arousal.

Pain during sex

Any history of pain during sex may cause a woman to avoid sex or find it unpleasant.

Pain during sex may result from:

  • Vaginal dryness. Lack of lubrication in the vagina is the most common cause of pain with sex.
  • Vaginismus (say "vadj-uh-NIZ-mus"). This is an involuntary contraction of the vagina. It's often related to a lack of experience with sex.1 Sometimes it stems from a trauma such as rape or sexual abuse. But there can also be a medical cause, such as:
    • Scars in the vaginal opening from injury, surgery, or childbirth.
    • Pelvic infections, such as vaginitis or Bartholin glands infections.
    • Chronic pain conditions, such as vulvodynia.
    • Skin conditions, such as lichen sclerosus or lichen planus.
    • Irritation from douches, spermicides, or latex condoms.
  • Dyspareunia (say "dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh"). This is physical pain that occurs during entry into the vagina, during deep thrusting, or after sexual intercourse.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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