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Sexual dysfunction in women

Published on May 10, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on May 25, 2024 at 8:00

Sexual dysfunction in women can take many forms. It should only be considered a problem if symptoms persist and occur repeatedly.

Anorgasmia: inability or failure to reach orgasm that affects approximately 25% of women.

Loss of sexual desire: unexplained and prolonged absence of sex drive (or libido).

Coital pain: pain during sexual intercourse (also known as dyspareunia)

Vaginismus: painful contraction or spasm of the vagina in response to penetration. Sexual dysfunction affects up to 40% of women. If a symptom occurs regularly, it is strongly recommended that you see your doctor. Your doctor will try to determine the cause and resolve the problem.


The causes of sexual dysfunction in women are many. The most common ones are related to:

  • Stress, anxiety
  • Prior sexual assault
  • Relationship problems
  • Depression
  • Chronic diseases (arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, etc.)
  • Urinary tract, vaginal or sexually transmitted infections
  • Medication
    • Loss of libido (ex: antidepressants)
    • Reduction of blood flow to the genital organs (ex: antihypertensives)
    • Drying up of the vaginal mucus (birth control pill, antihistamines, etc.)
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause


Prior to treating any sexual dysfunction, it is important to address the underlying cause, when possible. Studies examining sexual dysfunction are limited and, as a result, few drugs have been specifically developed to treat it. The following treatments are therefore among the most commonly used:

  • Psychotherapy (to better understand the source of the problem)
  • Physiotherapy (to re-educate the pelvic muscles and alleviate the pain)
  • Sex therapy
  • Hormone therapy (if symptoms are related to menopause)

When coital pain is the result of dryness, the use of a lubricant is recommended. If the problem is left undiagnosed and untreated, it may become a source of anxiety and stress during intercourse, and may even create some uneasiness or awkwardness with your partner.


Living a healthy lifestyle and staying fit can be beneficial. It is therefore important to limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. It is also important to be physically active, to get enough sleep and to learn to manage stress. Practicing proper hygiene to prevent urinary tract, vaginal and sexually transmitted infections can reduce the risk of contracting these types of infections and the occurrence of coital pain as a result.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.
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