Did you know that out of every known health condition today, none is as widespread as female sexual dysfunction? Strangely, we don’t often hear about this problem, which actually affects the lives of 30 to 50% of women. Now is the time to break the silence!
The multifactorial aspect of female sexual disorders
As you probably know, we live in a society that focuses on performance and hypersexualization. These days, when it has never been easier to communicate in a variety of ways, talking about sexuality is very trendy… and anything goes. But oddly, it is very different when it comes to discussing sexual disorders, especially in women.
Contrary to what contemporary social trends regarding sexuality would lead us to believe, women’s sexuality goes way beyond simple physical stimulation. Far more complex that in men, sexuality in women is based on several aspects that are closely linked, such as communication, fantasy, affection, emotional intimacy, self-esteem and commitment. And despite a decades-long fight for feminism, whose goal was the general emancipation of women, it seems that not all women succeed in finding fulfillment on a sexual level.
Sexual problems in women fit into two categories: physiological and psychological. Despite this distinction, they are very often linked together; in other words, it is not always easy to determine the exact cause of a sexual disorder. Nevertheless, trying to understand what lies underneath the problem is a good way to find solutions to fix it.
Physiological aspects of female sexuality
Since the dawn of time, the female body has been a source of awe and praise. A vessel of love, affection and motherhood, it is a treasure trove of mysteries and secrets. To this day, science still has not been able to fully understand how it works, especially in terms of intimacy. Thankfully, we do know many things about the physiological aspects of female sexuality.
Hormones play a role in women’ proper sexual functioning, the two main ones being estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen plays a vital role in regulating female sexual function. Although it plays a part in awakening desire, estrogen is more closely linked to sexual arousal. It also contributes, among other things, to the health of the genital organs.
In women, testosterone is believed to be the hormone of desire and sexual motivation. Because this hormone is produced in much lower quantities in the female body than in the male body, it is not surprising that sexual appetites vary from one gender to the other.
Occasionally, a sexual disorder can be triggered by a hormonal imbalance, whether it is due to a medical condition or simply to the normal stages of a woman’s life, such as pregnancy and menopause.
Here is a brief overview of the four main phases of female sexuality:
- excitement phase;
- plateau phase;
- orgasmic phase;
- resolution phase (body returns to its normal state).
Female sexual dysfunction is subdivided into four major categories: desire disorders, arousal disorders, orgasm disorders and sexual pain disorders.
A wide array of medical conditions can cause or exacerbate a sexual disorder, including:
- heart or vascular disease;
- mental illness (such as depression and anxiety);
- high blood pressure;
- gynaecological problems.
In addition, certain lifestyle factors can contribute to such disorders, such as smoking, alcoholism and abuse of illegal drugs.
Psychological aspects of female sexuality
It is a well-known fact that for women, sexuality is not just a physical thing; it is also in the head and heart! Therefore, often times, female sexual dysfunction can be partly or completely explained by psychological or emotional factors. There are many examples, but here are a few:
- low self-esteem;
- conflict with a partner;
- religious or educational taboos, or social restrictions;
- feeling guilty;
- past sexual trauma (rape, incest, etc.);
- sexual preferences or desire that is different from a partner’s;
- lack of communication.
If you discover that your issues are of emotional or psychological nature, seeking the support of a psychologist, sexologist or other specialized therapist could be very beneficial to you.
Sexuality and medication
Certain medications can also cause or exacerbate a woman’s sexual disorder. Among others:
- anti-anxiety drugs;
- narcotics such as morphine and codeine;
- antihypertensive drugs (used for high blood pressure);
- cancer treatments.
If you are experiencing difficulties on a sexual level, ask your pharmacist if the medication you are taking could be the cause.
Don’t just sit there; do something!
If you are struggling with a sexual disorder, here is some additional advice:
- Remember that you are not alone. This kind of problem affects nearly half of all women, no matter what age. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Confide in a woman in whom you trust, such as a good friend. Most women are great listeners and confidantes. Simply confiding in someone will do you a world of good, and who knows, you might even find an ally who can help you find the solutions you seek.
- Learn how to express your preferences and desires, what you like and don’t like. Sexual intimacy should never be a chore, but rather an opportunity to share, to get closer and to find pleasure while giving pleasure to someone else. Communication and respect (of yourself and your partner) are key elements to a healthy, fulfilling sex life.
- Consider your issues as a health problem that deserves attention and a solution. In most cases, a cause is successfully identified and a remedy can be found.
Whatever the nature or cause of a sexual disorder, it is important to break the silence and look for help; this is true for both men and women. It can be a bit embarrassing to broach the topic with a health professional, and sometimes it is hard to find the right time do so. But thanks to his or her listening skills, availability, discretion and professionalism, your pharmacist can answer your questions and alleviate your worries regarding sexual matters. He or she might even provide you with solutions and ideas that you had never even thought possible!