There are many reasons why a woman may have a sexual problem.
Women normally experience a physical change
during sexual arousal, as blood engorges the
vulvar area. If a woman is aware of the exact places
in her vulvar area where she feels increased sexual intensity (erectile
tissue), her sexual pleasure may be increased by genital stimulation. It is
possible for a woman not to be aware of this engorgement. It is also possible
for a woman not to be aware of the spots that are most sensitive and responsive
Any history of pain during intercourse may cause a
woman to avoid sexual activity.
Women who experience pain during
intercourse may choose to continue to have intercourse, even though the
experience is unpleasant and results in low sexual desire.
(chronic) illnesses, such as
arthritis, can affect sexual desire, enjoyment, and
Medicines for many medical conditions also affect
desire and arousal.
Partner and emotional influences
A partner's level of sexual skill and attention
can play a big part in a woman's sexual enjoyment.
respectful connection between partners sets the stage for sexual interest and
arousal. Relationship problems can lower sexual interest and
Living situations that give
couples very little privacy can interfere with feelings of
The physical changes that signal sexual arousal may for
some women be accompanied by feelings of guilt, embarrassment, shame, or
self-consciousness. Any of these emotions can reduce or negate physical
Positive sexual experiences help build a healthy
sexuality. On the other hand, a woman who has had a forced sexual experience is
likely to have mixed feelings about sex. In one study, 1 out of 5 women reported
having been forced to do something sexual. This was most often done by someone
they were close to.1
A decline in sexual activity as women age is most often caused by
the lack of a partner.
Many older women also report problems with lubrication.
Women may note a decrease in
sexual desire after menopause. In mild cases, the change may be almost
unnoticeable. In more severe cases, there may be a decrease in mental and
physical responsiveness to sexual stimuli.
Many older women
experience other changes in their sexuality. It may take longer to feel
sexually aroused, and
orgasms may be briefer. But orgasms still will offer
mental and physical pleasure to most women.
Women can feel sexual pleasure throughout their lives. But those
who stop sexual activity after menopause have more shrinking and drying of the
vagina than women who continue sexual activity.1