Many women, at some point in their lives, feel sexually unfulfilled. Among the most common types of problems:
- Inability to Experience Orgasm: Maybe you've never achieved the big "O," or your orgasms are "muffled" rather than explosive. The cause could be physical — from having insufficient hormones, for example, or from nerve-damaging surgery. On the other hand, the problem could be a matter of feeling too stressed out, or focusing on orgasm as the only payoff of spending intimate time with your partner. Cautions Laura Berman, Ph.D., "Obsessing about having an orgasm is one way to be sure you won't have one!"
- Low Libido: You've lost that lustin' feeling, and you might not even fantasize about sex anymore. A desire-dampening medication could be to blame, but your lack of interest in intimacy could just as easily be caused by menopause, depression or other emotional factors, or insufficient lubrication.
- Sexual Pain: Simply put, sex shouldn't hurt. There are many pain disorders that can make penetration painful — in one, called vaginismus, genital muscle spasms make it difficult or impossible for the penis to penetrate. When sex is a pain, a vaginal infection could be the culprit, as could another medical problem such as thinning of the vaginal lining after menopause or surgery.
- Possible Medical Problems: Some that could be responsible for your sexual dysfunction include pelvic injury or surgery (such as hysterectomy or Caesarean section); low blood flow to the sex organs; problems with production of the hormones estrogen and testosterone; vaginal or bladder infections; or drugs you're taking for other medical conditions. Speak with your gynecologist — he or she might prescribe a sex-saving medical treatment such as Viagra or a testosterone cream. If your vagina isn't a snug fit with your partner's penis, make muscle control exercises (i.e., Kegel exercises) — not size-altering surgery (for either of you) — a priority approach. Vaginal surgery should be a last-resort step for reviving your sex life, says Laura Berman, who explains, "Not only is it a drastic procedure, but it can actually create nerve damage and negatively affect lubrication and sensation and arousal in a woman." Only if your doctor diagnoses a major muscular issue, or prolapse, should vaginal surgery be considered.
For more about how to deal with women's sexual dysfunction, check out this book by Jennifer and Laura Berman, based on their extensive experience treating women suffering from unsatisfying sexual lives: For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction and Reclaiming Your Sex Life (Henry Holt, 2001).