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Female Sexual Dysfunction

Female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology represents a variety of disorders in any part of the sexual response cycle Cycle The type of signal that ends the inspiratory phase delivered by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation, including desire disorders, arousal disorders, orgasmic disorders, and pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways disorders. The condition may result from stresses and interpersonal conflicts as well as physical illness or medication/substance use. These disorders cause significant distress to the patient and her partner. Treatment options include psychotherapy Psychotherapy Psychotherapy is interpersonal treatment based on the understanding of psychological principles and mechanisms of mental disease. The treatment approach is often individualized, depending on the psychiatric condition(s) or circumstance. Psychotherapy, physical therapy Physical Therapy Becker Muscular Dystrophy, and pharmacotherapy.

Last updated: 8 Jan, 2021

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Female Sexual Response Cycle

Sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology (in males or females) arises from problems involving any stage of the sexual response cycle Cycle The type of signal that ends the inspiratory phase delivered by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation.

The female sexual response cycle Cycle The type of signal that ends the inspiratory phase delivered by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation is non-linear and more complex than the male sexual response, with additional factors such as emotional intimacy.

Biopsychosocial model of female sexuality (4 factors)

  1. Biological (physical health, neurobiology, endocrine function)
  2. Psychological (performance anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression)
  3. Sociocultural (upbringing and cultural norms)
  4. Interpersonal ( quality Quality Activities and programs intended to assure or improve the quality of care in either a defined medical setting or a program. The concept includes the assessment or evaluation of the quality of care; identification of problems or shortcomings in the delivery of care; designing activities to overcome these deficiencies; and follow-up monitoring to ensure effectiveness of corrective steps. Quality Measurement and Improvement of relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship, life stressors)
Model of female sexuality

A model of female sexuality. A problem that consistently impairs sexual arousal or functioning at any point in this cycle Cycle The type of signal that ends the inspiratory phase delivered by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation will cause sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology.

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Brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification structures involved

  • Hippocampus
  • Hypothalamus Hypothalamus The hypothalamus is a collection of various nuclei within the diencephalon in the center of the brain. The hypothalamus plays a vital role in endocrine regulation as the primary regulator of the pituitary gland, and it is the major point of integration between the central nervous and endocrine systems. Hypothalamus
  • Limbic system Limbic system The limbic system is a neuronal network that mediates emotion and motivation, while also playing a role in learning and memory. The extended neural network is vital to numerous basic psychological functions and plays an invaluable role in processing and responding to environmental stimuli. Limbic System: Anatomy
  • Medial preoptic area

Neurotransmitters involved

  • Acetylcholine Acetylcholine A neurotransmitter found at neuromuscular junctions, autonomic ganglia, parasympathetic effector junctions, a subset of sympathetic effector junctions, and at many sites in the central nervous system. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS
  • Dopamine Dopamine One of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain. It is derived from tyrosine and is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is a major transmitter in the extrapyramidal system of the brain, and important in regulating movement. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS
  • Epinephrine Epinephrine The active sympathomimetic hormone from the adrenal medulla. It stimulates both the alpha- and beta- adrenergic systems, causes systemic vasoconstriction and gastrointestinal relaxation, stimulates the heart, and dilates bronchi and cerebral vessels. Sympathomimetic Drugs/ norepinephrine Norepinephrine Precursor of epinephrine that is secreted by the adrenal medulla and is a widespread central and autonomic neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine is the principal transmitter of most postganglionic sympathetic fibers, and of the diffuse projection system in the brain that arises from the locus ceruleus. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS
  • Nitric oxide Nitric Oxide A free radical gas produced endogenously by a variety of mammalian cells, synthesized from arginine by nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide is one of the endothelium-dependent relaxing factors released by the vascular endothelium and mediates vasodilation. It also inhibits platelet aggregation, induces disaggregation of aggregated platelets, and inhibits platelet adhesion to the vascular endothelium. Nitric oxide activates cytosolic guanylate cyclase and thus elevates intracellular levels of cyclic gmp. Pulmonary Hypertension Drugs
  • Opioids Opioids Opiates are drugs that are derived from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates have been used since antiquity for the relief of acute severe pain. Opioids are synthetic opiates with properties that are substantially similar to those of opiates. Opioid Analgesics
  • Serotonin Serotonin A biochemical messenger and regulator, synthesized from the essential amino acid l-tryptophan. In humans it is found primarily in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and blood platelets. Serotonin mediates several important physiological functions including neurotransmission, gastrointestinal motility, hemostasis, and cardiovascular integrity. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS
  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide Vasoactive intestinal peptide A highly basic, 28 amino acid neuropeptide released from intestinal mucosa. It has a wide range of biological actions affecting the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems and is neuroprotective. It binds special receptors. Gastrointestinal Neural and Hormonal Signaling

Neuronal pathways involved

  • Stimulation of clitoris Clitoris An erectile structure homologous with the penis, situated beneath the anterior labial commissure, partially hidden between the anterior ends of the labia minora. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy → signals transmitted to the spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy via the  pudendal nerve Pudendal nerve A nerve which originates in the sacral spinal cord (s2 to s4) and innervates the perineum, the external genitalia, the external anal sphincter and the external urethral sphincter. It has three major branches: the perineal nerve, inferior anal nerves, and the dorsal nerve of penis or clitoris. Gluteal Region: Anatomy 
  • Stimulation of vagina Vagina The vagina is the female genital canal, extending from the vulva externally to the cervix uteri internally. The structures have sexual, reproductive, and urinary functions and a rich blood supply, mainly arising from the internal iliac artery. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy → signals transmitted to the spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy via the pelvic nerve as well as the pudendal and hypogastric nerves
  • Primary mediator: spinal cord Spinal cord The spinal cord is the major conduction pathway connecting the brain to the body; it is part of the CNS. In cross section, the spinal cord is divided into an H-shaped area of gray matter (consisting of synapsing neuronal cell bodies) and a surrounding area of white matter (consisting of ascending and descending tracts of myelinated axons). Spinal Cord: Anatomy reflex system (under the inhibitory control of the brainstem, especially the  nucleus Nucleus Within a eukaryotic cell, a membrane-limited body which contains chromosomes and one or more nucleoli (cell nucleolus). The nuclear membrane consists of a double unit-type membrane which is perforated by a number of pores; the outermost membrane is continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum. A cell may contain more than one nucleus. The Cell: Organelles paragigantocellularis (within the ventral medulla))
  • Activation of the sympathetic nervous system Nervous system The nervous system is a small and complex system that consists of an intricate network of neural cells (or neurons) and even more glial cells (for support and insulation). It is divided according to its anatomical components as well as its functional characteristics. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the central nervous system, and the branches of nerves from these structures are referred to as the peripheral nervous system. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification in females facilitates sexual response (unlike in males).

Hormonal effects

  • Under the control of estrogens and androgens Androgens Androgens are naturally occurring steroid hormones responsible for development and maintenance of the male sex characteristics, including penile, scrotal, and clitoral growth, development of sexual hair, deepening of the voice, and musculoskeletal growth. Androgens and Antiandrogens
  • Decreased desire and arousal are related to a decrease in estradiol Estradiol The 17-beta-isomer of estradiol, an aromatized C18 steroid with hydroxyl group at 3-beta- and 17-beta-position. Estradiol-17-beta is the most potent form of mammalian estrogenic steroids. Noncontraceptive Estrogen and Progestins.
  • Testosterone Testosterone A potent androgenic steroid and major product secreted by the leydig cells of the testis. Its production is stimulated by luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. In turn, testosterone exerts feedback control of the pituitary LH and FSH secretion. Depending on the tissues, testosterone can be further converted to dihydrotestosterone or estradiol. Androgens and Antiandrogens levels may be related to the level of libido.

Male/female comparison of sexual response stages

Stage of sexual response Changes in females Changes in males Changes in both
Desire
  • Motivation or interest in sexual activity
  • Expressed by sexual fantasies
Excitement/arousal
  • Begins with either fantasy or physical contact
  • Vaginal lubrication
  • Clitoral erection Erection The state of the penis when the erectile tissue becomes filled or swollen (tumid) with blood and causes the penis to become rigid and elevated. It is a complex process involving central nervous system; peripheral nervous systems; hormones; smooth muscles; and vascular functions. Penis: Anatomy
  • Labial swelling Swelling Inflammation
  • Elevation of the uterus Uterus The uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes are part of the internal female reproductive system. The uterus has a thick wall made of smooth muscle (the myometrium) and an inner mucosal layer (the endometrium). The most inferior portion of the uterus is the cervix, which connects the uterine cavity to the vagina. Uterus, Cervix, and Fallopian Tubes: Anatomy in the pelvis Pelvis The pelvis consists of the bony pelvic girdle, the muscular and ligamentous pelvic floor, and the pelvic cavity, which contains viscera, vessels, and multiple nerves and muscles. The pelvic girdle, composed of 2 “hip” bones and the sacrum, is a ring-like bony structure of the axial skeleton that links the vertebral column with the lower extremities. Pelvis: Anatomy (tenting)
  • Begins with either fantasy or physical contact
  • Erections and testicular enlargement
  • Flushing
  • Nipple Nipple The conic organs which usually give outlet to milk from the mammary glands. Examination of the Breast erection Erection The state of the penis when the erectile tissue becomes filled or swollen (tumid) with blood and causes the penis to become rigid and elevated. It is a complex process involving central nervous system; peripheral nervous systems; hormones; smooth muscles; and vascular functions. Penis: Anatomy
  • Hemodynamic changes (increased respiration Respiration The act of breathing with the lungs, consisting of inhalation, or the taking into the lungs of the ambient air, and of exhalation, or the expelling of the modified air which contains more carbon dioxide than the air taken in. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy, pulse, and blood pressure)
Orgasm Vaginal and uterine contractions
  • Facial grimacing
  • Release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology of tension
  • Slight clouding of consciousness
  • Involuntary anal sphincter contractions
  • Acute increase in blood pressure and pulse
Resolution Women experience little or no refractory period. Men have a refractory period lasting minutes to hours, during which they cannot re-experience orgasm.
  • Muscles relax.
  • Cardiovascular state returns to baseline.
  • Sexual organs return to normal baseline.

Etiology

Physical illness

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Chronic diseases ( diabetes Diabetes Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia and dysfunction of the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin. Type 1 DM is diagnosed mostly in children and young adults as the result of autoimmune destruction of β cells in the pancreas and the resulting lack of insulin. Type 2 DM has a significant association with obesity and is characterized by insulin resistance. Diabetes Mellitus mellitus, autoimmune disorders)
  • Neurologic impairment
  • Malignancies
  • Urologic or gynecologic abnormalities
  • Estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy deficiency (leading to vaginal dryness; seen in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with menopause Menopause Menopause is a physiologic process in women characterized by the permanent cessation of menstruation that occurs after the loss of ovarian activity. Menopause can only be diagnosed retrospectively, after 12 months without menstrual bleeding. Menopause or premature Premature Childbirth before 37 weeks of pregnancy (259 days from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period, or 245 days after fertilization). Necrotizing Enterocolitis ovarian failure)
  • Other conditions that directly or indirectly affect Affect The feeling-tone accompaniment of an idea or mental representation. It is the most direct psychic derivative of instinct and the psychic representative of the various bodily changes by means of which instincts manifest themselves. Psychiatric Assessment sexual function:

Medication or other forms of therapy

  • Psychiatric medications (antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).)
  • Cardiovascular drugs ( beta-blockers Beta-blockers Drugs that bind to but do not activate beta-adrenergic receptors thereby blocking the actions of beta-adrenergic agonists. Adrenergic beta-antagonists are used for treatment of hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris, glaucoma, migraine headaches, and anxiety. Class 2 Antiarrhythmic Drugs (Beta Blockers), digoxin Digoxin A cardiotonic glycoside obtained mainly from digitalis lanata; it consists of three sugars and the aglycone digoxigenin. Digoxin has positive inotropic and negative chronotropic activity. It is used to control ventricular rate in atrial fibrillation and in the management of congestive heart failure with atrial fibrillation. Its use in congestive heart failure and sinus rhythm is less certain. The margin between toxic and therapeutic doses is small. Cardiac Glycosides, calcium channel blockers Calcium Channel Blockers Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are a class of medications that inhibit voltage-dependent L-type calcium channels of cardiac and vascular smooth muscle cells. The inhibition of these channels produces vasodilation and myocardial depression. There are 2 major classes of CCBs: dihydropyridines and non-dihydropyridines. Class 4 Antiarrhythmic Drugs (Calcium Channel Blockers))
  • Antihistamine and anticholinergic Anticholinergic Anticholinergic drugs block the effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the muscarinic receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Anticholinergic agents inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in effects on the smooth muscle in the respiratory tract, vascular system, urinary tract, GI tract, and pupils of the eyes. Anticholinergic Drugs medications
  • Oral contraceptive Oral contraceptive Compounds, usually hormonal, taken orally in order to block ovulation and prevent the occurrence of pregnancy. The hormones are generally estrogen or progesterone or both. Benign Liver Tumors agents
  • Antiandrogens Antiandrogens Antiandrogenic drugs decrease the effect of androgens. Classes include androgen receptor blockers, 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, and androgen synthesis inhibitors. Both men and women may use antiandrogens, which treat advanced prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), alopecia, and hirsutism. Androgens and Antiandrogens
  • Anticonvulsants

Psychological and cultural factors

  • Stress and interpersonal conflicts (e.g., infidelity)
  • Anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Major depressive disorder Major depressive disorder Major depressive disorder (MDD), commonly called depression, is a unipolar mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood and loss of interest in association with somatic symptoms for a duration of ≥ 2 weeks. Major depressive disorder has the highest lifetime prevalence among all psychiatric disorders. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Substance abuse
  • Prior history of abuse (both sexual or physical)

Diagnosis

Ruling out anatomic/physiologic causes

Before turning toward the diagnosis of a psychiatric condition, anatomic or physiologic causes should be ruled out via laboratory or radiologic imaging.

  • Laboratory studies
    • Order complete blood count (CBC) to rule out anemias.
    • Measure various hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types involved directly or indirectly in sexual function ( thyroid-stimulating hormone Thyroid-stimulating hormone A glycoprotein hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. Thyrotropin stimulates thyroid gland by increasing the iodide transport, synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). Thyroid Hormones (TSH), prolactin Prolactin A lactogenic hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. It is a polypeptide of approximately 23 kd. Besides its major action on lactation, in some species prolactin exerts effects on reproduction, maternal behavior, fat metabolism, immunomodulation and osmoregulation. Breasts: Anatomy, dehydroepiandrosterone Dehydroepiandrosterone A major C19 steroid produced by the adrenal cortex. It is also produced in small quantities in the testis and the ovary. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can be converted to testosterone; androstenedione; estradiol; and estrone. Androgens and Antiandrogens ( DHEA DHEA A major C19 steroid produced by the adrenal cortex. It is also produced in small quantities in the testis and the ovary. Dehydroepiandrosterone (dhea) can be converted to testosterone; androstenedione; estradiol; and estrone. Androgens and Antiandrogens), estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy, progesterone Progesterone The major progestational steroid that is secreted primarily by the corpus luteum and the placenta. Progesterone acts on the uterus, the mammary glands and the brain. It is required in embryo implantation; pregnancy maintenance, and the development of mammary tissue for milk production. Progesterone, converted from pregnenolone, also serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of gonadal steroid hormones and adrenal corticosteroids. Gonadal Hormones, and testosterone Testosterone A potent androgenic steroid and major product secreted by the leydig cells of the testis. Its production is stimulated by luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. In turn, testosterone exerts feedback control of the pituitary LH and FSH secretion. Depending on the tissues, testosterone can be further converted to dihydrotestosterone or estradiol. Androgens and Antiandrogens levels) to rule out thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy disorders, in addition to hormonal deficiencies and hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia is defined as a condition of elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone in the blood. The PRL hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for breast development and lactation. The most common cause is PRL-secreting pituitary adenomas (prolactinomas). Hyperprolactinemia.
    • Lipid panel (to rule out hyperlipidemia and vascular diseases)
    • Liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy function tests (to rule out liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy dysfunction)
  • Vaginal examination with cervical and urethral swab and assessment of cervical motion tenderness (to rule out pelvic inflammatory disease Pelvic inflammatory disease Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is defined as a polymicrobial infection of the upper female reproductive system. The disease can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and adjacent structures. Pelvic inflammatory disease is closely linked with sexually transmitted diseases, most commonly caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Gardnerella vaginalis. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)
  • Transvaginal ultrasonography
    • Biothesiometry: assessment of neurologic pelvic status
    • Perineometry: assessment of pelvic floor Pelvic floor Soft tissue formed mainly by the pelvic diaphragm, which is composed of the two levator ani and two coccygeus muscles. The pelvic diaphragm lies just below the pelvic aperture (outlet) and separates the pelvic cavity from the perineum. It extends between the pubic bone anteriorly and the coccyx posteriorly. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy musculature
    • Vaginal photoplethysmography: assessment of genital blood flow Blood flow Blood flow refers to the movement of a certain volume of blood through the vasculature over a given unit of time (e.g., mL per minute). Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure
    • Vulvoscopy: assessment of vulva Vulva The vulva is the external genitalia of the female and includes the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibule, vestibular bulb, and greater vestibular glands. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy and surroundings areas

Diagnostic criteria

The diagnosis of female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology and its types is made by clinical observation based on the type of symptoms presented, their severity, and duration.

  • Symptoms must be present for at least 6 months and cause clinically significant distress for the individual.
  • The following conditions must be excluded:
    • Other psychiatric disorders
    • Relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship distress or other stressors
    • Effects of substance abuse/medication use 
  • It is important to note that the specific disorders of female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology often overlap and coexist.
Table: Diagnostic features of disorders of female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology
Female sexual interest/arousal disorder Female orgasmic disorder Genitopelvic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways/ penetration Penetration X-rays disorder (formerly dyspareunia Dyspareunia Recurrent genital pain occurring during, before, or after sexual intercourse in either the male or the female. Primary Ovarian Insufficiency and vaginismus)
  • Lack of or reduced sexual interest/arousal
  • ↓ interests or thoughts of sexual activity
  • No initiation of sexual activity
  • ↓ response or interest in sexual intimacy with partner
  • ↓ sexual pleasure during intercourse
  • ↓ genital/non-genital sensation during sexual activity
  • Marked delay or absence of orgasm
  • Decreased intensity of orgasm
  • Pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways during vaginal penetration Penetration X-rays
  • Fear or anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder about experiencing pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways during sex Sex The totality of characteristics of reproductive structure, functions, phenotype, and genotype, differentiating the male from the female organism. Gender Dysphoria
  • Contraction of the pelvic floor Pelvic floor Soft tissue formed mainly by the pelvic diaphragm, which is composed of the two levator ani and two coccygeus muscles. The pelvic diaphragm lies just below the pelvic aperture (outlet) and separates the pelvic cavity from the perineum. It extends between the pubic bone anteriorly and the coccyx posteriorly. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy muscles during attempted vaginal penetration Penetration X-rays

Management

Treatment modalities used for all female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology disorders

  • Sex Sex The totality of characteristics of reproductive structure, functions, phenotype, and genotype, differentiating the male from the female organism. Gender Dysphoria therapy: 
    • Utilizes the concept of the marital unit, rather than the individual
    • Couples meet with a therapist to identify and discuss their sexual problems. 
    • The therapist recommends sexual exercises for the couple to attempt at home.
    • Most useful when no other psychopathology is involved
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy A directive form of psychotherapy based on the interpretation of situations (cognitive structure of experiences) that determine how an individual feels and behaves. It is based on the premise that cognition, the process of acquiring knowledge and forming beliefs, is a primary determinant of mood and behavior. The therapy uses behavioral and verbal techniques to identify and correct negative thinking that is at the root of the aberrant behavior. Psychotherapy (CBT): 
    • Approaches sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology as a learned maladaptive behavior
    • Provokes patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder and helps them to reach a better response
  • Hypnosis Hypnosis A state of increased receptivity to suggestion and direction, initially induced by the influence of another person. Anesthesiology: History and Basic Concepts:
    • Most often used adjunctively with other therapies
    • More useful if anxiety Anxiety Feelings or emotions of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is present
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy Psychodynamic psychotherapy Forms of psychotherapy falling within or deriving from the psychoanalytic tradition, that view individuals as reacting to unconscious forces (e.g., motivation, drive), that focus on processes of change and development, and that place a premium on self understanding and making meaning of what is unconscious. Psychotherapy:
    • Individual long-term therapy
    • Focuses on feelings, past relationships (including familial), fears, fantasies, dreams, and interpersonal problems that may be contributing to sexual disorder

Disorder-specific treatments

  • Female sexual interest/arousal disorder:
    • Low doses of testosterone Testosterone A potent androgenic steroid and major product secreted by the leydig cells of the testis. Its production is stimulated by luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. In turn, testosterone exerts feedback control of the pituitary LH and FSH secretion. Depending on the tissues, testosterone can be further converted to dihydrotestosterone or estradiol. Androgens and Antiandrogens may improve libido in women, especially in postmenopause.
    • Low-dose vaginal estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy replacement may improve vaginal dryness and atrophy Atrophy Decrease in the size of a cell, tissue, organ, or multiple organs, associated with a variety of pathological conditions such as abnormal cellular changes, ischemia, malnutrition, or hormonal changes. Cellular Adaptation in postmenopausal women.
    • New medications: 
      • Bremelanotide:
        • Melanocortin receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors agonist
        • Administered subcutaneously before anticipated sexual activity
      • Flibanserin: 
        • 5-HT 5-HT A biochemical messenger and regulator, synthesized from the essential amino acid l-tryptophan. In humans it is found primarily in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and blood platelets. Serotonin mediates several important physiological functions including neurotransmission, gastrointestinal motility, hemostasis, and cardiovascular integrity. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS 1A receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors agonist and 5-HT 5-HT A biochemical messenger and regulator, synthesized from the essential amino acid l-tryptophan. In humans it is found primarily in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and blood platelets. Serotonin mediates several important physiological functions including neurotransmission, gastrointestinal motility, hemostasis, and cardiovascular integrity. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS 2A receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors antagonist 
        • Boosts sexual drive
        • May cause severe hypotension Hypotension Hypotension is defined as low blood pressure, specifically < 90/60 mm Hg, and is most commonly a physiologic response. Hypotension may be mild, serious, or life threatening, depending on the cause. Hypotension and syncope Syncope Syncope is a short-term loss of consciousness and loss of postural stability followed by spontaneous return of consciousness to the previous neurologic baseline without the need for resuscitation. The condition is caused by transient interruption of cerebral blood flow that may be benign or related to a underlying life-threatening condition. Syncope
  • Female orgasmic disorder:
    • Directed masturbation
    • Use of fantasies and vibrators
  • Genitopelvic pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways/ penetration Penetration X-rays disorder:
    • Gradual desensitization to achieve intercourse:
      • Start with muscle relaxation techniques
      • Progressing to erotic massage
      • Finally achieving sexual intercourse
    • Hegar dilator

Differential Diagnosis

The following conditions are differential diagnoses of female sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology:

  • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause Menopause Menopause is a physiologic process in women characterized by the permanent cessation of menstruation that occurs after the loss of ovarian activity. Menopause can only be diagnosed retrospectively, after 12 months without menstrual bleeding. Menopause: This syndrome occurs in menopause Menopause Menopause is a physiologic process in women characterized by the permanent cessation of menstruation that occurs after the loss of ovarian activity. Menopause can only be diagnosed retrospectively, after 12 months without menstrual bleeding. Menopause due to estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy deficiency, and is marked by vulvar or vaginal dryness, itching, and painful intercourse. The syndrome is associated with urinary changes (frequency, urgency, incontinence). Physical exam findings include a narrow vaginal inlet, decreased elasticity Elasticity Resistance and recovery from distortion of shape. Skeletal Muscle Contraction, and pallor of the vulva Vulva The vulva is the external genitalia of the female and includes the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibule, vestibular bulb, and greater vestibular glands. Vagina, Vulva, and Pelvic Floor: Anatomy. Treatment consists mainly of vaginal lubricants and topical vaginal estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy.
  • Major depressive disorder Major depressive disorder Major depressive disorder (MDD), commonly called depression, is a unipolar mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood and loss of interest in association with somatic symptoms for a duration of ≥ 2 weeks. Major depressive disorder has the highest lifetime prevalence among all psychiatric disorders. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): a mood disorder marked by depressed mood, sleep Sleep A readily reversible suspension of sensorimotor interaction with the environment, usually associated with recumbency and immobility. Physiology of Sleep disturbance, anhedonia Anhedonia Inability to experience pleasure due to impairment or dysfunction of normal psychological and neurobiological mechanisms. It is a symptom of many psychotic disorders (e.g., depressive disorder, major; and schizophrenia). Schizophrenia, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, loss of energy, low concentration, weight or appetite changes, psychomotor retardation or agitation Agitation A feeling of restlessness associated with increased motor activity. This may occur as a manifestation of nervous system drug toxicity or other conditions. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus, and suicidal ideation Suicidal ideation A risk factor for suicide attempts and completions, it is the most common of all suicidal behavior, but only a minority of ideators engage in overt self-harm. Suicide. These symptoms last for ≥ 2 weeks. A decrease in libido Decrease in libido Male Sexual Dysfunction and sexual dysfunction Sexual dysfunction Physiological disturbances in normal sexual performance in either the male or the female. Sexual Physiology may be a sign of underlying depression.

References

  1. Ganti, L. et al. (2016). Sexual dysfunctions and paraphilic disorders. First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship, 4th edition, chapter 16, p. 173-176. http://med-mu.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/first-aid-psychiatry.pdf
  2. Shifren, Jan L., MD (2020). Overview of sexual dysfunction in women: Epidemiology, risk factors, and evaluation. UpToDate. Retrieved September 2, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-sexual-dysfunction-in-women-epidemiology-risk-factors-and-evaluation?search=female%20sexual%20dysfunction&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2
  3. Shifren, Jan L., MD (2020). Overview of sexual dysfunction in women: Management. UpToDate. Retrieved September 4, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-sexual-dysfunction-in-women-management?search=female%20sexual%20dysfunction&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

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