Female Sexual Health

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being (www.who.org). There are multiple factors that can negatively a woman’s sexual functioning.  Physical factors include medications such as contraceptives that contain ethinyl estradiol, antidepressants, and chemotherapy; chronic illnesses such as vulvodynia, diabetes or depression; and recurrent vaginal infections, vulvar pain, childbirth, menopause, or surgical removal of the ovaries. Psychogenic factors include a lack of knowledge about one’s body and the sexual response cycle, personal religious beliefs, social pressure, a history of sexual abuse, past negative experiences, unrealistic expectations, and relationship conflict.

Women are often reluctant to discuss their sexual health concerns because they believe their healthcare provider will dismiss their complaint and they are concerned about embarrassing their doctor. In 1999, Marwick conducted a survey and reported that healthcare providers did not initiate discussions regarding sexuality due to a lack of knowledge, time constraints, and inadequate training. Therefore, when a woman decides to make the first step, she needs to choose an expert with advanced training in sexual medicine, also known as a Fellow with the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.

Types of Female Sexual Dysfunction