While the media may make it seem like everyone but you is having nonstop great sex, that’s far from the truth: A Yale School of Medicine study discovered that female sexual dysfunction (FSD) affects 48 percent of women in the United States. FSD is an umbrella term that covers lack of desire, inability to become aroused or have orgasms and painful sex.
The issues frequently overlap, complicating the matter. For example, if you have trouble becoming aroused, you don’t lubricate and then sex hurts. “And you can’t be interested in sex if it’s painful,” says Cathy K. Naughton, M.D., director of the Metropolitan Urological Specialists Center for Sexual Health in St. Louis. “So it’s a vicious cycle.”
Some women, such as those for whom sex is painful because of certain physical conditions, may require the “big guns” of pharmaceuticals or surgery. But most women can find relief from the symptoms of the four most common causes of FSD by trying these natural solutions.
Three hidden causes of sex problems
1. Antidepressants and other drugs. Female sexual dysfunction symptoms are a common side effect of antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Hormone-based contraceptives and blood pressure medications are other possible culprits. Women with diabetes or who have undergone chemotherapy also may tend to suffer from FSD.
2. Psychological problems. “Body-image issues play a huge role in female sexual dysfunction,” says Cathy K. Naughton, M.D. In fact, studies have shown that societal emphasis on youth and slimness negatively impacts women’s sexual function even more than menopause does.
3. Hysterectomy. If the uterus is removed, everything in the pelvis— bladder, small intestine, rectum— can become displaced; and after a partial hysterectomy, the cervix can drop down into the vagina. “As you can imagine, that can all cause pain,” Naughton says.