Real Talk: Breaking Through the Stigmas Around Sexual Dysfunction in Women

It is something almost 1 in every 2 women will encounter. And no one is talking about it. 

Well, no one aside from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who have been studying the topic of sexual dysfunction for years. 

Of those 1 in 2 women who report experiencing sexual problems, ACOG reports that 12 percent say it causes them personal distress. And yet no one is talking about it. 

So I will, because as we talk about hard things the stigmas and limiting beliefs are more likely to blossom into understanding. 

The first thing to consider on the topic is the four specific types of sexual dysfunction, as outlined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

I just don’t want to

Female sexual interest/arousal disorder is the technical term for the first type. Defined in the DSM-V as “a lack of, or significant decrease in, at least three of the following: 

  • Interest in sexual activity
  • Sexual or erotic thoughts or fantasies
  • Initiation of sexual activity and responsiveness to a partner’s initiation
  • Excitement or pleasure during all or almost all sexual activity
  • Interest or arousal in response to internal or external sexual or erotic cues (eg, written, verbal, visual)
  • Genital or nongenital sensations during sexual activity in almost all or all sexual encounters

Before I continue, let me say this: you’re not abnormal. Any number of circumstantial things that are happening in your life can in some way impact the fluctuation of these things. And it happens to all of us from time to time. (Anyone else prone to getting headaches around 10 p.m.?)

That being said, there could be a scientific, chemical explanation for the reason you’re feeling these things, particularly if it is impacting your life to the point of distress.

Why bother? I can’t orgasm anyway

Defined by the DSM-V as female orgasmic disorder, women “report a marked delay in, marked infrequency of, or absence of orgasm for a minimum of six months.”

Yes, you read that right – essentially you don’t get to experience that fantastic release for six whole months, and in many cases it is even longer. 

It hurts too much

This one is painful to talk about. Literally. Genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder is marked by the persistent or recurrent presence of one or more of the following symptoms for a minimum of six months:

  • Difficulty having intercourse
  • Marked vulvovaginal or pelvic pain during intercourse or penetration attempts
  • Marked fear or anxiety about vulvovaginal or pelvic pain anticipating, during or resulting from vaginal penetration

This disorder is also comorbid (a fancy psychological term for concurrent) with medical, situational, and physiological causes. 

Substances made me (not) do it

This one is incredibly scientific and has everything to do with the chemicals in your body. Outlined in the DSM-V as substance or medication-induced sexual dysfunction, the symptoms here are directly related to a “temporal relationship with substance/medication initiation, dose increase, or substance/medication discontinuation.”

Not only that, but it causes noticeable and significant distress. There are several other specified categories, but these are the main ones that affect the greatest number of women.

Don’t leave it in the bedroom

And there is good news. Keeping in mind how crucial it is to be comfortable enough to be completely honest with your OB/GYN, screenings for these issues can cause them from affecting your life. 

Routine well-visits are one way to get ahead of the symptoms, and interventions are in place that can help you avoid things getting any worse. 

Various therapies and treatments exist. They are at your disposal to help you work through each and every symptom and get you enjoying yourself in the bedroom again.

What is important to me is that we have the hard conversations. That’s what I am here for. Never hesitate to get in touch with your OB/GYN, but also please never hesitate to get in touch with me. 

I’m happy to help and I’m here to break through the stigmas associated with sexual dysfunction so we can all live happier, healthier lives.