Women’s sexual problems

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It is common for women to have problems with sex at some stage in their life, particularly as they get older. The Sexual Advice Association estimates that as many as half of all women experience sexual difficulties, including loss of desire, pain during sex and problems with orgasms.

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Loss of desire

Loss of desire or libido is common in women and is characterised by a lack of desire to have sex or an inability to get sexually aroused. Often the loss of desire is temporary and eventually normal libido is restored, either by itself or with the aid of some form of treatment. Loss of desire can have a range of physical or psychological causes. Physical causes include:

Possible psychological causes include:

If you experience a loss of desire go and see your GP or visit the Central Health Clinic. They can help by starting to determine the underlying causes and arrange any necessary tests. For many women psychosexual counselling helps getting to grips with what is causing the loss of desire. There are a number of treatment options available; however there is a lack of reliable research into their effectiveness. See NHS Choices for more information.

Pain during sex

There are a number of ways in which sex can be painful for a woman. It is a common complaint after the menopause as the vagina feels dry due to the drop in oestrogen (one of the female sex hormones) levels. It could also be as a result of an underlying health problem such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) or endometriosis. Some women experience Vaginismus, where the muscles around the vagina go into spasms, making intercourse painful or very difficult. It is often caused by an underlying psychological issue such as worrying about becoming pregnant, previous sexual abuse, feelings of guilt around sex from childhood or a lack of interest in sex. Treatment options are available, go and see your GP to discuss further.

Orgasm problems

According to Relate 1 in 4 women will have problem reaching orgasm at some stage in their life. It is estimated that more than two thirds of all women never orgasm during penetrative sex and up to a third never orgasm at all. Some women don’t need to have an orgasm to enjoy sex but problems around orgasm may cause concern for both women and their partners.

There are many causes of orgasm problems, including:

Often the key to overcome orgasm problems is to identify the underlying causes and make any necessary improvements to your physical and/or psychological wellbeing. Psychosexual counselling may help women to talk about their relationships and uncover some of the issues involved.

Local Services

Porter Brook Clinic

Psychosexual Clinic

Share Psychotherapy

Further information

Sexual Advice Association
Advice and information around sexual dysfunction for men and women
Helpline: 020 7486 7262 open Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9am-5pm
Email: info@sexualadviceassociation.co.uk
Web: www.sda.uk.net

Patient UK
Health information factsheets on a wide range of topics
Web: www.patient.co.uk

British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy
Charitable organisation with 750 members providing sexual and relationship therapy
BASRT, PO Box 13686, London, SW20 9ZH
Tel: 020 8543 2707
Email: info@basrt.org.uk
Web: www.basrt.org.uk

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