Despite what our culture says, women need sex just as much as men. But what happens if she loses the desire? Obviously, lack of connection or attraction is possible. However, for some ladies, medical reasons are to blame. It doesn’t stop at interest, though. Arousal is a totally different story. Maybe you want to have sex, but can’t stay aroused. This makes sex painful and uncomfortable.
Worldwide, 22 to 43 percent experience sexual problems. It’s more common at midlife, with 14 percent between ages 45 and 64. Unsurprisingly, these problems can really stress out a relationship.1 Whether the problem is desire or arousal, there are countless possible reasons. Here are seven medical causes of why some women don’t want to have sex.
1. It Could Be Female Sexual Dysfunction
Female sexual dysfunction is an umbrella term. It can be divided into different desires, arousal, orgasmic, and sexual pain disorders. These problems affect 19 to 50 percent of outpatient women, yet are only recorded in 2 percent of physicians’ notes. Clearly, female sexual dysfunction needs more attention.
The list of potential causes is endless. Psychological reasons include fears of abnormal pap smears or penetration. Physically, dyspareunia is defined by pain from friction or thrusting. Vaginismus cause involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles, making it difficult to have sex. Over time, the stress can overtake interest.2
2. It Could Be Nerve Damage From Diabetes
Nerve damage is a well-known complication of diabetes. Well, the nerves “down there” aren’t let off the hook! In women, this can hinder sexual response and vaginal lubrication. It doesn’t help that urinary tract infections and bladder issues are common in diabetics, too.
Sexual problems affect 27 percent of women with type 1 diabetes, and 42 percent of women with type 2. Diabetic men often have sexual issues as well. Typically, the nerves send involuntary signals to increase blood flow to the genitals. This causes smooth muscle tissue to relax, making way for penetration. Nerve damage prevents any of this from happening.3
3. It Could Be Joint Pain Associated With Arthritis
Arthritis is defined as joint inflammation. It’s also really painful. Women with arthritis may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to have sex, causing a loss of interest. In fact, 31 to 76 percent of people with arthritis report sexual problems. About 56 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients limit sexual intercourse because of fatigue and pain.
Specifically, problems with the hip joint can really get in the way. Depression, anxiety, and poor body image are also common with arthritis patients. Together, these feelings can thwart sexual interest.4
4. It Could Be Urinary Tract Problems
It’s no surprise that urinary tract issues have a strong link to sexual dysfunction. This may include incontinence, infection, or pain. Yet, the association is rarely talked about. For instance, urinary incontinence can decrease lubrication and desire. Sometimes, it might be caused by a pelvic prolapse, where the rectum, bladder, or urethra sticks into the vagina. Pain and discomfort are also extremely common.5
5. It Could Be Restricted Blood Flow From An Underlying Heart Disease
There isn’t much research on the link between female sexual problems and heart disease. According to researchers, this may have to do with societal and cultural reasons. It’s more “normal” for older women to have less sex, and “taboo” to even talk about it. Plus, it’s easier to gauge sexual arousal with a man.
But the two are certainly related. Heart disease can spark depression, which can lead to worsening sexual function.6 Blood vessel damage can also limit blood flow to the genitals.7 This effect has been observed in men with heart disease, too.
6. It Could Be Low Estrogen Levels From Menopause
Menopause is another common cause. It starts when a woman stops have periods for at least one year. The average is 51, but it can begin anywhere from ages 40 to 55.8 During this time, estrogen levels take a nosedive. This leads to low mood, diminished sense of well-being, and depression. All of this can lead to poor sexual desire and arousal. If lubrication suffers, vaginal pain might also crop up.9
7. It Could Be Medication That Cause Low Libido
Drugs may cause low libido or vaginal dryness. Antipsychotics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants are linked to poor desire and arousal. Even birth control and anti-hypertension medicine may have a similar side effect. Some drugs, like antipsychotics and SSRIs, can lead to orgasmic disorders.
In these cases, changing medication might nix the problem.10
Depending on the cause, treatment may include individual or couples counseling. Muscle relaxation exercises might also help. With a doctor’s help, you can work toward enjoying sex again.
|↑1||Thomas, Holly N., and Rebecca C. Thurston. “A biopsychosocial approach to women’s sexual function and dysfunction at midlife: A narrative review.” Maturitas 87 (2016): 49-60.|
|↑2, ↑9, ↑10||Phillips, Nancy A. “Female sexual dysfunction: evaluation and treatment.” American Family Physician 62, no. 1 (2000): 127-148.|
|↑3, ↑7||Diabetes & Sexual & Urologic Problems. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑4||Tristano, Antonio G. “Impact of rheumatoid arthritis on sexual function.” World journal of orthopedics 5, no. 2 (2014): 107.|
|↑5||Salonia, Andrea, Giuseppe Zanni, Rossella E. Nappi, Alberto Briganti, Federico Dehò, Fabio Fabbri, Renzo Colombo et al. “Sexual dysfunction is common in women with lower urinary tract symptoms and urinary incontinence: results of a cross-sectional study.” European urology 45, no. 5 (2004): 642-648.|
|↑6||Schwarz, Ernst R. “Sexual function in women with heart disease and coronary artery disease.” International journal of impotence research 19, no. 4 (2007): 341-341.|