It’s not unusual for a man and a woman to have sexual health problems at some point in their lives. For a growing number of women, declining hormones, job stress, relationship issues, menopause, and other problems are taking their toll in the bedroom.
The most common form of sexual dysfunction among women of all ages is the loss of sexual desire, also known as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in medical terms. While men’s main sexual health problem called erectile dysfunction has a variety of treatment options to choose from regardless of its underlying cause, women’s sexual difficulties are not as simple to address. Female sexual problems are actually a combination of mental and physical causes. As such, it cannot be cured easily by swallowing a pill.
According to sex psychologist Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg, women’s sexuality tends to be multifaceted and fairly complicated. “Although we would love to simplify it so we could have the one-two or even a one-punch treatment, it doesn’t tend to work that way,” she said.
Most experts say that frequency of sexual intercourse has nothing to do with sexual desire or satisfaction. “One of first things I do in speaking to women who come in with sexual concerns is let them know that there is no normal frequency or set of behaviors and things change with time,” says Dr. Jan Shifren, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “If it’s working for them and their partner, there is no problem,” she said.
But when a woman experiences a significant decrease in interest in sex that is having an effect on her life and is causing distress, then it’s considered a problem of low sexual desire or HSDD. Kingsberg says that sexual desire is more than just an issue of low libido or sex drive. She says that sexual drive is the biological component of desire, which is reflected as spontaneous sexual interest including sexual thoughts, erotic fantasies, and daydreams.
Sexual drive declines naturally with age based on physiological factors. But sexual desire also encompasses interpersonal and psychological factors that create a willingness to be sexual. It’s about the body signaling a desire to be sexual. Whether or not there is any intention to act on it, people will have a certain level of sex drive.
Erectile dysfunction, on the other hand, is much more common among men with diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease and those who are physically inactive. Researchers suggest simple lifestyle changes like regular exercise and eating a healthy diet may ease the sexual health problem for many men by reducing the risk of heart disease and associated conditions.
In the last few years, however, the introduction of anti-impotence treatments has encouraged more research to dig deeper into the causes of sexual health problems among men and women. Advances in medicine have come up with effective treatment and helpful therapies to revive the sexual interest of both men and women. But because the loss of sexual desire in women is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors, it usually requires more than one treatment or approach to fix the problem.