For several societal and cultural reasons, female sexuality does not get as much mainstream attention as male sexuality. The female body gets a lot of attention, and according to media and fashion trends, it’s socially acceptable (and encouraged) for women to show off their skin and curves. However, many would argue that our society is focused on sexualizing women while simultaneously ignoring the importance of their own sexual needs and desires. For example, without much brainpower, we can all name at least one medication that treats erectile dysfunction. But can you think of anything that treats female sexual dysfunction?
What is Sexual Dysfunction?
Despite being more common in women than men, with more than 40% of women being affected, and not quite 30% of men being affected, the term, “sexual dysfunction” makes us all think of penile problems. For women struggling with arousal, orgasm, vaginal pain, or other kinds of sexual discomfort, reliable research and general information are hard to find. Whatever the reason, female sexuality as an open discussion is relatively taboo, let alone discussion of vaginal disorders. What information is available is often highly technical or vague, making diagnoses not only difficult to assign but even more difficult to understand. The term “erectile dysfunction” is pretty straight-forward, for example. Terms like “noncoital sexual pain disorder” or “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” are less so.
The media and medical journals aren’t the only ones not talking about female sexual dysfunction, though. Women aren’t discussing it either. For reasons of ignorance, fear, hopelessness, or something else, women don’t often seek medical advice. We’re here to say that sexual experiences should be reliably pleasurable for everyone. For men and women, sexual dysfunction occurs at just about any point in the sexual response cycle, which, simply put, is pretty much anything from arousal to post-orgasm resolution. When someone struggles with any of the stages, including loss of interest, absence of arousal, inability to orgasm, and pain during intercourse, sexual dysfunction may be at play.
Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction
There are several causes. Sometimes, the reasons are primarily psychological. Body insecurity alone can make it impossible to perform, for example. Another big one is sexual trauma. Even when a woman has a history of sexual abuse and is lucky enough to not have any lingering physical reminders, the brain takes much longer to move on. The mind often continues to associate sexual contact with fear and pain, making a healthy sex life virtually impossible.
Female sexual dysfunction often rears its ugly head as pain or discomfort during intercourse, vaginal dryness, and difficulty achieving orgasm. Dyspareunia is another underlying cause, which is a diagnosis given to those who suffer from a range of physical or psychological factors that cause them to feel pain during sex. Sometimes, this is caused by vaginismus, which is involuntary vaginal muscle spasms. Vulvodynia is also connected to chronic pain when pressure is put on the vulva. Cancer, as well as cancer treatments, can contribute to chronic pain, as well. Let’s not forget about another grossly under-considered group, menopausal women. Aging women make up a vast population of people suffering from female sexual dysfunction. Vaginal atrophy including dryness and the natural decrease in estrogen, is an incredibly common cause of dyspareunia, and therefore female sexual dysfunction. Diabetes, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, stress and anxiety, depression, certain antidepressants, and alcohol or drug abuse are also all potential causes.
Consult Your Physician
Getting back to how common it is for women to not report their symptoms to their doctor, one of the reasons might be the tendency to self-diagnose or downplay symptoms. It’s easy to rationalize symptoms, especially for menopausal and post-menopausal women. It’s common to think sex simply can’t be fun once you get older. However, it’s always best to confide in your doctor anytime your body doesn’t feel quite right. Avoiding sexual contact or suffering through the pain is only going to cause more problems in other areas of life. Relationships suffer, and it’s likely that you can cause more damage to vaginal tissue by ignoring it. Your doctor will know the right kinds of questions to ask and can refer you to specialists to get you on the road to recovery. Finding the right kind of treatment is essential, and unique for each person. For some people, over-the-counter lubricants might do the trick. But for others, it might not be that simple.
Treatment Option for Sexual Dysfunction
Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor therapy, which helps strengthen the system of muscles that support the uterus, including the vagina. BioMoi vaginal dilators can be used as part of this therapeutic practice. They are shaped like a tampon and often start out as part of the in-office therapy, but at-home use is usually encouraged after some progress has been made. The dilators help stretch the vaginal muscles to promote natural elasticity. The antimicrobial silicone gently glides into the vaginal opening, as much or as little as is comfortable for you. Little by little, the body—and the mind—learn to accept the feeling, and sex becomes pleasurable again. There are six different sizes to fit each woman’s body, as well as to allow you to move up in size as the vagina stretches over time.
From what seems like the beginning of time, sexual dysfunction has been the butt of jokes, but in reality, it can ruin relationships and cause increasing amounts of physical and psychological pain. For many people, sex is an important part of life. Just like you’d see a professional about a broken bone, you owe it to yourself to consult a doctor about feeling broken “down there.” For your safety, and for the benefit of effective treatment, always consult a doctor rather than attempting to self-treat. Female sexual dysfunction is real. Maybe your doctor will recommend vaginal dilators, maybe she won’t. Regardless of your course of treatment, we see you. You deserve to take your sex life back.