Female Sexual Dysfunction(1), (2), (3)

Is “up with age, down with libido” your ringing mantra? Are you experiencing a loss of mood and desire, an inability to become aroused or reach orgasm, or encounter pain during sexual activity?

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is defined by the World Health Organization as “the various ways in which a woman is unable to participate in a sexual relationship as she would wish.” Sexual health experts have identified the various determinants of sexual difficulties as the following:


  • Sexual interest/arousal disorder

  • Sexual pain disorder

  • Orgasmic disorder


Sexual disorders affect 43% of women at all ages, and have a major impact on quality of life and interpersonal relationships.(4) A fruitful sexuality requires a healthy balance between biological, psychological, and environmental (social and cultural) factors. Sexual disorders commonly develop when a systemic illness or its prescribed medication weakens this natural balance.


Sexual disorders affect 43% of women at all ages, and have a major impact on quality of life and interpersonal relationships.


Hormonal Changes

Changes in hormonal function, particularly during menopause and pregnancy are positively associated with a decline in sexual desire and an increase in sexual pain.

Read more about the effects of hormonal changes on your sexuality.



A routinely consumption of alcohol, recreational drugs, and certain prescription medication, including antidepressants and hormonal contraception, can have a negative effect on sexual desire, arousal and vaginal lubrication.

Ask your health care professional about the possible side effects of your medication on your sexuality.



Women with chronic illnesses including cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis are more prone to develop sexual dysfunctions, or experience dissatisfaction with their sexuality.(3)

Read more about the effects of some diseases on your sexuality.


It is common for the symptoms of a stress-induced environment or lifestyle to be confused with the symptoms of a sexual disorder. It is important to differentiate between having a normal or logical response to environmental or interpersonal factors, such as relationship turnover or occupational stress, and having significant sexual distress that may require the attention of your healthcare professional.

Remember, it is up to you to take control of your sexual health! Regular sexual intercourse or other vaginal stimulation helps keep your vagina healthy. Lubricants and moisturizers are an effective way to alleviate vaginal discomfort and make your sexual experience more sensational.Talk to your healthcare professional today. 

Sexual Interest/ Arousal Disorder

Sexual interest/arousal disorder is the absence of, or a decrease in response to:

  • Sexual interest

  • Erotic thoughts or fantasies

  • Initiation of sexual activity or response to a partner’s attempt to initiate

  • Response to sexual cues

  • Sensation during sexual activity, genital or nongenital


Decreased desire and arousal are often associated with the physiological and psychological stress of illnesses such as depression, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and/or the hormonal changes experienced by women during menopause and pregnancy. Some medications can also cause sexual side effects.

Remember! You are not alone. Talk to your healthcare professional today about the solutions available to help you rediscover your pleasure or, if you are experiencing vaginal dryness, how lubricants and moisturizers can help alleviate unwanted symptoms.

Sexual Pain Disorder

Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder (previously Dyspareunia and Vaginismus) is the involuntary reflexive tightening of the vagina whenever penetration is attempted.


Persistent difficulty can occur with one more of the following symptoms:

  • Fear and phobia-like avoidance of penetration

  • Tightening of the vaginal muscles to prevent penetration

  • Tension, pain, or burning felt when penetration is attempted

  • Absent or decreased desire to have intercourse


Psychologic factors that can contribute to the presence of pain during intercourse may include traumatic past experiences, mood disorders, or a fear of a negative outcome or evaluation. Hormonal changes, illness, prescribed medication, or the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs may also cause undesirable sexual side effects.

Minor symptoms of sexual pain may be alleviated with the use of lubricants and moisturizers, but it is important to treat the underlying cause before taking action towards correcting sexual side effects.

Orgasmic Disorder

Orgasmic disorder, also known as anorgasmia, is the inability or considerable difficulty to achieve orgasm from any type of stimulation, despite being highly aroused, both physically and emotionally.


“Nearly one third of women report an inability or significantly decreased ability to achieve orgasm.”


Nearly one third of women report an inability or significantly decreased ability to achieve orgasm.(3) A difficulty achieving orgasm can be associated with psychological distress and illness including depression, stress, anxiety, lack of trust, and behavioural/lifestyle issues. Social and interpersonal factors  contributing to orgasmic difficulties may include insufficient foreplay, poor inter-partner communication, and premature ejaculation. 


  1. Female Sexual Health Consensus Clinical Guidelines, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist of Canada (SOGC). aout 2012;34:8:2
  2. World Health Organization. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th rev. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1992
  3. Basson R., Women’s Sexual Dysfunction: Revised and Expanded Definitions CMAJ May 10, 2005 vol. 172 no. 10 doi: 10.1503/cmaj.1020174
  4. La Société des Obstétriciens et Gynécologues du Canada (SOGC). Ma Sexualité.ca. Professionnel de la Santé: Les troubles de la sexualité chez la femme. [En ligne] adresse URL: http://masexualite.ca/fr/health-care-professionals/sexual-dysfunction