By Edith Igbokwe
International Women’s Day has come and gone but for many women, the challenges of living happily persist.
Perhaps, more than any other aspect of a woman’s life, the joy of a satisfactory relationship with a partner, is a major boost to self-confidence, emotional stability, and inner peace.
When the curtains are drawn and the lights are dimmed, what happens under the sheets is expected to be pure ecstasy.
However, for many women, it is an experience they can only dream about, a recurring theme of their fantasies. Why? It is a condition doctors have defined as Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, in short, FSIAD.
It is the female version of men’s erectile dysfunction, preventing many women from enjoying sexual intercourse with their partners. Female sexual arousal disorder occurs when the body of a woman doesn’t respond to sexual stimulation.
For a long time, doctors believed it was a lack of desire of the woman for sex. Now, they know better. It is the body’s system refusing to pick the signals. It is a mental disorder.
According to new guidelines in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), FSIAD is one of several conditions that fall under the umbrella of sexual dysfunction. The conditions include pain during intercourse, inability to orgasm, and lack of sexual desire.
According to the manual, over 40 percent of women experience some type of sexual dysfunction, such as FSIAD. Many of them look forward to the romantic romp in blue films and breath-taking, passionate sex but discover, to their frustration that their bodies are neither willing nor ready.
For many women, the symptoms of FSIAD come and go. Some have symptoms every time they try to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity. Others may only experience them occasionally. As you read this article, try a self-check:
· Is your desire for sex decreasing?
· Are you finding it difficult to be aroused?
· Do thoughts of sex hardly cross your mind?
· Do you find it odd to initiate sex with your partner?
· Are you indifferent to your partner’s attempt to initiate sex?
· Are you turned off during sex?
· Do those things that turn you off irritate you now?
· Do you find it difficult to pick the cues of intimacy?
· Are your erogenous zones switched off during sex?
Researchers are blaming psychological and physical challenges in the arousal process for the condition. It is one reason why individuals need to go for psychotherapy to identify why they are not responding normally in the bedroom.
For example, low self-esteem, poor body image, stress, anxiety, depression, guilt, trauma, and crisis in relationships can trigger psychological reactions and cause FSIAD.
Factors caused by natural developments such as menopause and pregnancy or artificial options such as birth control pills and anti-depressants may set your hormones at war with your urge.
Arousal also depends greatly on the body’s circulatory and neurological systems. Diminishing blood flow takes the steam out of your sex drive.
Medical conditions like diabetes and treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation may interfere with arousal and sexual stimulation.
A 2009 study by Trusted Source found that 3.3 percent of participants between the ages of 18 and 44 had female sexual arousal disorder, while 7.5 percent of participants between the ages of 45 and 64 experienced it.
FSIAD is sometimes hard for doctors to diagnose since many cases involve a combination of underlying conditions. In addition, many women may feel uncomfortable talking to their doctor about their symptoms and their sex life. This prevents a lot of women from getting diagnosed.
Most doctors start by asking a series of questions about your sexual and mental health. Next, they’ll likely give you a pelvic exam to rule out any physical causes of your symptoms, such as an infection or nerve damage. In some cases, your doctor may also do a complete blood count test to get a better idea of your overall health.
If your doctor determines your symptoms aren’t due to physical causes, they may refer you to a psychotherapist who specializes in sexual health. This health professional can help you discover the emotional cause behind your FSIAD and help you create a treatment plan that suits you.
Here’s the good news: there is hope for women living with this condition.
Treatment for FSIAD focuses on identifying any underlying causes and treating them. Many women find that a combination of treatments seems to work best. Depending on the underlying cause, treatments often include medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
Some medication-related treatments include Hormone therapy. If the underlying cause is hormonal, hormone therapy may help treat low estrogen or testosterone, vaginal dryness, or pain during intercourse.
At home, you can also try creating a relaxing environment to help your brain and body prepare for a variety of sexual activities.
Experiment with different elements, such as soft lighting, relaxing music, or soft fabrics. If you’re in a partnered relationship, you can also try talking to your partner about trying sexual activities outside of intercourse, such as massage or showering together.
Without treatment, dryness usually worsens over time. You can try these home remedies for dryness that may help relieve your symptoms and discomfort:
Water-Based Lubricants Before the sexual activity, apply a water-based lubricant and on your partner where there will be contact. Using a lubricant can help to relieve any pain or discomfort you might normally experience during sex since you are giving this area moisture.
Regular Sexual Activity: Having sexual stimulation on a consistent basis can help improve your overall health. You can do this either alone or with a partner, or even using a device like a vibrator. Sexual stimulation helps increase blood flow.
Pelvic Floor Exercises: Pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen weak v muscles. With lower levels of estrogen, muscles weaken over time. Exercises like Kegels can help to relax tight muscles and strengthen weaker ones. These exercises also help to increase blood flow.
Your doctor may recommend a local estrogen to help with atrophy. This is estrogen that you insert directly. Some forms are:
Vaginal ring, Vaginal gel, Vaginal cream, Vaginal tablet; Your doctor can talk with you about all of your options and help you pick the right one for you.
Another common remedy for dryness that your doctor may recommend is osphena (ospemifene). This is a pill that you take once a day to reduce the symptoms. It is recommended for women who have moderate to severe symptoms.
Osphena isn’t suitable for those who’ve had breast cancer or are at high risk. Prasterone (Intrarosa) is a steroid that lessens painful intercourse, but prasterone is changed in the body to certain hormones (androgens and estrogens).
KY jelly is a water-based, personal lubricant that is usually used as a lubricant for sexual intercourse. Unlike petroleum or oil-based lubricants, it does not react with latex condoms, diaphragms, or sex toys. Sometimes KY Jelly may be used as a substitute for ultrasound gel, to aid the insertion of suppositories or tampons, during medical examinations, or for other reasons.
KY Jelly is water-soluble and its main lubricating ingredients are glycerol (glycerine) and hydroxyethyl cellulose. Antiseptic and preservative additives include chlorhexidine gluconate, gluconolactone, methylparaben, and sodium hydroxide. Ingredients may vary slightly between the different KY products. KY Jelly does not contain any added colors or perfumes.
As we enter into the second quarter of the year 2023, get a better fulfilled life by getting over the challenges to getting the best of intimacy. Seek help from your doctor today!