A woman’s sexuality is a complicated thing. It is a complex interplay of both emotional and physical responses that has the power to affect the way she thinks, emotes, and feels about herself. Sexual impotence in a woman can impact multiple aspects of her life, and can not only affect her personal relationships but can also be dangerously damaging to her self-esteem.
Female impotence, also known as female sexual dysfunction in women is not uncommon at all. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that involved a national sample of 1,749 women, and estimated that 43% women in the United States suffer from female impotence.1 Fortunately, female sexual dysfunction can be cured. However, the first step to curing a problem is understanding its causes and symptoms.
Here’s a quick breakdown of female impotence, how it affects a woman, and how it can be treated.
The Sexual Cycle And Female Impotence
A sexual cycle refers to a series of emotional and physical phases that an individual experiences when aroused or when engaging in sexually stimulating activities. There are four stages in this cycle:
- Excitement: The feeling of being sexually aroused, followed by physical changes that a woman’s body goes through. These include the erection of the nipples, moistening of the vagina, swelling of the labia, etc.
- Plateau: The physical changes during sexual arousal, is followed by an increase in blood flow to the labia. The vagina grows longer, the glands located within the labia start producing secretions, and there is an overall increase in muscle tension.
- Orgasm: Also known as the peak of sexual response, the muscles of the uterus and the vagina contract, resulting in a strong, highly pleasurable feeling.
- Resolution: Return of the body and mind to the normal state.
Excitement and intimacy experienced during each of these stages contribute to an individual or a couple feeling sexually satisfied at the end.
Female impotence refers to a sexual problem that a woman may face during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents her and her partner from experiencing sexual satisfaction.
How Does A Woman Differ From A Man When It Comes To Sex?
For men, sexual arousement comes around just by thinking about sex or seeing something that’s sexually appealing. For women, however, sexual responses are often driven by emotional intimacy, security, and commitment, rather than by just a need for sex. Also, it is very common for women to experience arousal after the actual process of lovemaking begins. In other words, a woman may start the process of lovemaking even though she may be somewhat uninterested, but as foreplay proceeds, she will start focusing on the stimulations and sensations and start becoming increasingly aroused.
For this reason, the orgasm stage can be highly variable from woman to woman. A woman may not orgasm at all, and this may have nothing to do with her being sexually dysfunctional. Instead, it could have everything to do with a lack of emotional connection and security that she feels from her partner.
It is necessary to be aware of the differences between a woman’s sexuality and sexual responses from that of a man’s. This is important, not just for the sake of understanding your sexual health, but also to diagnose and treat female sexual impotence as accurately as possible.
What Are The Causes Of Sexual Impotence In Women?
Female impotence may be the result of either a psychological or a physical problem.
1. Psychological Causes
These include marital or relationship problems, depression, effects of a past sexual trauma, work-related anxiety and stress, concerns and insecurities about sexual performance, feelings of guilt, etc.
2. Physical Causes
There are a number of physical and/or medical conditions that can cause female sexual dysfunction. These include heart diseases, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, neurological diseases, and menopause. It can also include certain chronic diseases like alcoholism or drug abuse, kidney disease or liver failure. Additionally, sexual impotence may also be the side effect of certain medications. For instance, taking antidepressant drugs may affect and significantly bring down sexual desire and function.
How Does Sexual Impotence Affect Women?
The most common problems related to female sexual impotence are as follows:
1. Inhibited Sexual Desire
A lack of sexual desire or a general disinterest in sex may be brought about by numerous factors like hormonal changes within the body, medical conditions, and treatments (such as cancer and chemotherapy) stress and anxiety, fatigue, depression, pregnancy, etc. Sometimes, this may even be a result of being bored with a regular, predictable sexual routine, or by certain changes in lifestyle, for instance, career choices and taking care of children.
2. Inability To Become Sexually Aroused
Very often, insufficient vaginal lubrication results in the inability of a woman to become sexually aroused when engaging in any form of sexual activity. This problem may even be related to stress or anxiety, a state of unhappiness, insecurity or inadequate stimulation. Additionally, there may also be a problem in blood flow to the vagina and clitoris that could lead to the failure of sexual arousal.
3. Anorgasmia Or The Lack Of Orgasm
The absence of sexual climax or orgasm can very often be the direct result of a woman’s sexual inexperience, inhibition, lack of knowledge or physiological factors such as anxiety, guilt, physical abuse, or being haunted by a sexual trauma of the past. Factors like medications and chronic diseases and insufficient stimulation may also contribute to anorgasmia.
4. Painful Intercourse
Physical pain during intercourse can be the result of a large number of problems, including ovarian cysts, endometriosis, a pelvic mass, poor lubrication, vaginitis, sexually transmitted diseases, or the presence of scar tissue from surgery. Some women suffer from a condition called vaginismus – a painful, involuntary spasm of the muscles surrounding the entrance to the vagina. This may stem from a sexual phobia, an experience of painful sex from the past, or by the fear that penetration will be painful.
Diagnosis Of Female Impotence
To diagnose female impotence, your doctor will need to begin with a physical examination and a detailed evaluation of symptoms. A pelvic exam may be performed to determine the health of the woman’s reproductive organs and sometimes, a Pap smear may be conducted in order to detect any change in the cervix cells (this helps to check for cancer or any kind of pre-cancerous condition). Other tests may be prescribed so as to rule out the possibility of any other medical problems that could be resulting in the woman being sexually dysfunctional.
Additionally, the doctor will also call for an evaluation of the woman’s attitude and feelings about sex, as well as other factors that could act as potential contributors. These factors include anxiety, stress, fear, past sexual trauma or abuse, alcohol or drug abuse or addiction, relationship problems, etc.) This way, the doctor can zero in on the underlying cause of the sexual dysfunction in the woman and can prescribe the most accurate treatment for the patient.
Treating Female Impotence
The ideal approach to correcting female impotence usually involves a dedicated team effort between the woman, her doctors, and well-trained and experienced therapists. There are a number of ways to treat female sexual dysfunction. These include the following:
- Treating the underlying physical cause of sexual dysfunction with the help of medication.
- Treating the underlying physiological cause of sexual dysfunction through counseling and therapy.
- Providing appropriate sexual education about human sexual anatomy, sexual function, and normal age-related changes; this can help a woman overcome fear and anxiety about sexual function and performance.
- The use of erotic videos or books, masturbation, and introducing new changes in sexual routines to enhance stimulation.
- Using erotic fantasies, intercourse exercises, music, etc. may be used as distraction techniques to do away with anxiety and encourage relaxation.
- Indulging in physical stimulation activities that don’t involve sexual intercourse. These may include sensual massages and can help comfort the woman and bring about communication between partners.
- Sexual positions that allow a woman to control the depth of penetration and the use of vaginal lubrication may help in bringing about relaxation and minimizing pain during sexual intercourse.
Can Hormones Affect Female Impotence?
Hormones play a very important role in controlling sexual function in a woman. Very often, the body of a woman naturally suffers from a lack of estrogen due to aging and menopause. This may result in poor vaginal lubrication, a decrease in vaginal sensation, and unpleasant mood swings that contribute to a lack of sexual desire. It is also suggested that low levels of testosterone in a woman may contribute significantly to a decrease in genital sensation, sexual arousal, and sexual climax. Researchers are still exploring the benefits of hormones and the possibility of using medications that include drugs like Viagra to treat sexual dysfunction.
Treatment: Vaginal lubricants or hormone replacement therapy may improve and even solve certain problems, such as loss of genital sensation and vaginal lubrication. Sometimes, the doctor may prescribe an oral drug called ospemifene or Osphena, that is to be taken once a day. This can help make the vaginal tissue thicker and much less fragile.
Can Hysterectomy Cause Female Impotence?
When a woman has undergone a hysterectomy, i.e. a surgical removal of her uterus, she may experience changes in sexual function. These changes may include a decreased vaginal lubrication, the loss of desire for sex, and reduced genital sensation. It is possible that these problems may be the direct cause of hormonal changes that occur with the loss of the uterus. Additionally, it may be possible that the blood vessels and nerves that are critical to sexual function have been damaged during the surgery and is, therefore, responsible for sexual impotence in the woman.
Can Female Impotence Be Cured Completely?
The success of treatment for female impotence largely depends on what the underlying cause of the problem is.
Sexual dysfunction or impotence that is associated with fear or anxiety, or stress, can often successfully be solved with appropriate counseling, sexual education, and by bringing about an improved communication between the partners.
As far as treating sexual dysfunction that is related to a reversible or a treatable physical condition is concerned, there are plenty of good doctors and effective treatments available. Together, this can help bring down the problem of sexual dysfunction in the women significantly, if not completely.
When To Seek A Doctor’s Help
It is not uncommon for women to experience sexual dysfunction problems from time to time. Expression of sexual interest, response, and function differs from woman to woman. A woman’s feelings about sex and sexuality may change with certain circumstances or stages in her life, or it could be the result of a health condition or a medical treatment. Sometimes, sexual impotence may resolve itself on its own after a short time. If, however, the lack of sexual desire and function persists over a long period of time, it is time to visit a doctor.
Note: A lot of women still find it difficult to talk about their sexuality and sex life, let alone admit to the fact that they may have sexual dysfunction. It is, however, important to remember that sexual dysfunction has the ability to affect the other partner as well. The successful treatment of sexual dysfunction, is, therefore, not just dependant on medication and therapy, but very often requires good communication between the man and the woman involved. Hence, it becomes extremely important not just for the woman to be comfortable enough to communicate with her partner and her doctor about her problems, but also for the woman’s partner to be as supportive and patient as possible. With a strong family support to go hand in hand with appropriate medication, sexual dysfunction in women can be easily cured and the couple can resume having a happy, healthy sex life.
|↑1||Laumann, Edward O., Anthony Paik, and Raymond C. Rosen. “Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors.” Jama 281, no. 6 (1999): 537-544.|