Female Sexual Function

Treatment and Reassurance for Problems Affecting Your Sex Life

Almost half of all women experience some type of problem with sexual function during their lifetime. If you have issues with sexual arousal, vaginal dryness or achieving orgasm, the specialists at the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health can help. We offer evaluation and treatment to help you regain sexual health and have a satisfying sex life.

Common issues with sexual function include:

  • Low libido (lack of desire)—low sexual desire may be due to other medical conditions, medications, relationship issues, stress or other life events.
  • Low sexual arousal—sex may be difficult or painful if you are unable to attain or maintain a physical response to intimacy and sex.
  • Problems with orgasm (female orgasmic disorder)—including delayed orgasm or not being able to achieve orgasm.
  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) and pain from vaginismus, or spasms of the muscles of the vagina that prevent intercourse.
  • Sexual aversion disorder—a strong desire to avoid sexual activity, often linked to traumatic experiences.

Specialized Expertise for Conditions Affecting Sexual Health

The team at Lahey's Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health works closely with experts in other fields to offer you complete care. We collaborate with gynecologists with advanced training and certification in treating menopause symptoms. If you have fertility issues, we work in conjunction with board-certified reproductive endocrinologists to provide you with the latest services in fertility care.

We provide treatment and coordinate care for conditions including:

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia—a genetic condition in which the body’s adrenal glands do not make correct amounts of certain hormones. It can affect both men and women and can cause infertility.
  • Female infertility—the inability to become pregnant.
  • Menstrual disorders—may include physical and emotional changes just before or during your period, painful periods, abnormal bleeding and more.
  • Menopause—the end of your menstrual cycles, and may cause symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—caused by an imbalance of certain hormones. Symptoms include irregular periods, extra body hair on the face or chest, acne and skin changes, as well as fertility issues.
  • Premature ovarian failure—also called primary ovarian insufficiency, this is a condition in which the ovaries stop functioning before age 40, causing infertility and other complications.
  • Turner syndrome—a genetic condition that causes developmental problems such as delayed puberty, infertility and other metabolic disorders.
Causes & Symptoms
Common Symptoms of Female Sexual Function Problems

Whether you’ve had to deal with a sexual issue for a while, or your symptoms began suddenly, understanding what’s happening to your body is the first step toward treatment. Common symptoms of female sexual dysfunction include:

  • Anxiety during or before sexual contact
  • Delayed or absent orgasm
  • Low sexual desire
  • Painful intercourse
  • Vaginal dryness
Common Causes of Female Sexual Function Problems

Treating the underlying cause of a sexual function problem is often the best way to relieve symptoms. The specialists at Lahey's Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health can help determine the cause of your problem and develop a treatment plan to return you to full sexual health.

Common causes of sexual health issues in women include:

  • Anxiety, depression, stress or other mental health issues
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or bladder problems
  • Menopause
  • Past trauma, such as sexual abuse
  • Relationship issues
  • Side effects of medications

In some cases, there is more than one cause affecting your sexual function. We work with you to find the root cause of your sexual problem so we can provide the best possible treatment.

Evaluation & Treatment
Helping You Regain Healthy Sexual Function

If you are experiencing decreased sexual desire, painful intercourse or other sexual health problems, the experienced professionals at the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health can help.

We collaborate with specialists in other fields including gynecology and endocrinology to determine any underlying conditions that may be causing your symptoms. We work with you to evaluate every factor that may be affecting your sexual health and offer a personalized treatment plan.
What To Expect at Your First Appointment

During your initial evaluation, our goal is to determine the type of sexual dysfunction you are experiencing and to investigate the possible causes. Your first appointment includes:

  • A detailed medical history, including a list of current medications
  • Blood test, to check hormone levels (in some cases)
  • Conversation about your sexual problems and symptoms
  • Physical examination
Female Sexual Function Treatment Options

The first step to treating your sexual function problem is correcting any existing medical condition that may be causing your symptoms. In addition to treatment for underlying conditions, other treatments to improve your sexual health may include:

  • Hormone treatment—if your body is deficient in certain hormones, such as estrogen, it can cause symptoms that affect your sexual function. Hormone therapy can help balance your levels and reduce your symptoms.
  • Medications—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Addyi (flibanserin), also called the female Viagra, to treat sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women.
  • Medication adjustment—if you are taking medication for another condition, it may be causing symptoms that affect your sexual function. Adjusting your dosages or trying a different medication may help.
  • Sex therapy—if your symptoms are related to emotional factors such as relationship difficulties or anxiety-related issues, counseling with a licensed sex therapist can help.