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Female Sexual Problems

Nearly half of all women suffer from some kind of sexual problem.
Past sexual experiences, values, and religious and cultural beliefs can all be factors. Your partner may have attitudes or physical challenges that create sexual difficulties. And, of course, there are physical causes for sexual dysfunction.

The causes of sexual difficulties can be complex, but Virginia Mason Franciscan Health's sexual health specialists can help. We are easy to talk to, and provide care in an atmosphere that is both comfortable and compassionate.

Women and pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse

A number of physical issues can cause discomfort or pain for women during sexual intercourse – some even make intercourse impossible. In general, painful intercourse is called dyspareunia.

Dyspareunia can be caused by:

  • Vulvovaginal atrophy, a thinning and drying of vaginal tissues
  • Vulvodynia, a chronic burning or irritation in the vulvar area
  • Conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic organ prolapse
  • Vaginismus, involuntary spasms of muscles specifically around the opening of the vagina

Less common causes include vaginal strictures, scar tissue, and an allergic-type reaction to seminal fluid.

Finding the causes of sexual dysfunction or discomfort

The goal of your first visit with one of our sexual health experts at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is to find the cause of your discomfort, whether physical, psychological or both.

At the first visit:

  • An interview reviewing sexual history and relationship issues 
  • A physical exam taking a detailed look at the sexual organs and pelvic area, looking for atrophy, infection, scarring, inflammation, etc.
  • Laboratory testing may also be requested

Treating sexual dysfunction and discomfort

We offer a broad spectrum of treatments to make you comfortable.

Education alone can improve your capacity for sexual function and enjoyment. Helpful educational tools include instructional videos, books and handouts.

Often, simply learning to use touch, as well as visual and verbal stimulation, can lead to improved sexual response and improve a relationship.

Lifestyle changes can also help, including:

  • Weight control and a healthy diet
  • Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol
  • Light aerobic exercise
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • Relaxation techniques

Non-hormonal medications may include:

  • Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers
  • Medication to improve circulation and relaxation

Hormonal supplementation can be helpful for some women, including:

  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Androgens

“Female Viagra” is the common term for the medication Flibanserin, which was recently approved by the FDA to help women with low sexual desire. It has helped improve the sex drive and orgasmic response for many women. We would be happy to discuss the benefits and side effects of this medication with you. To make an appointment with our sexual health experts, call 206-223-6772.