Remember when you and your partner could spend all day in bed together? Maybe the thought of it makes you cringe a bit now. Sure, sex is supposed to be fun - but what do you do when it's not?
Sometimes your brain says yes, but your body says no... or your mind and body both put on the brakes at the same time. Loss of sexual intimacy — or its more clinical term sexual dysfunction —can happen at any age for a variety of reasons. But it doesn’t have to force your sex life into retirement.
If you feel a little turned off about getting turned on, this is for you. Let’s dig into what can derail our sex lives, and our best tips to help you improve female sexual function and wellness.
What Is Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can happen during any phase of our sexual response cycle. It’s a physical or psychological response that prevents you from achieving sexual satisfaction. The four stages of the sexual response cycle include:
This may sound a bit textbook-ish, but it’s essential to know that sexual dysfunction isn’t just about a lack of desire to have sex. It can pop up anytime during a sexual experience, and it’s not merely related to age.
What Are Symptoms Of Sexual Dysfunction?
Loss of Desire: Not being in the mood is probably the largest complaint from women when it comes to sex. Partners may respond by not feeling desired, but the issues are layered with complexity. Stress, spreading yourself too thin, and feeling exhausted can throw a huge wrench in your sex life. A bad sexual experience or lack of emotional connection in your relationship can also dampen your desire.
Lack of Arousal: Arousal isn’t just about lubrication. When you are aroused, blood flow increases to your sexual tissue, causing parts of your vagina to swell and other parts to shrink in order to receive an offering, if you will. If you’re not aroused, this process shuts down, which is why some women feel ‘dead’ down there. It can happen for many reasons, including an overactive or anxious mind, changes in hormones, or simply not being into your partner at the moment.
Painful Vaginal Penetration: Sometimes your brain and body are in receiving mode, but sex hurts. Often women feel too embarrassed to talk with their healthcare providers about the issue. But painful sex can be a sign of something else going on. This could include perimenopause, endometriosis, UTIs, or lack of lubrication.
Inability to Orgasm: It’s common for women to report not being able to have an orgasm. So if this is the case, you're not alone. Anorgasmia, or inability to orgasm, could be related to a medical condition. However, if your health checks out it might be that you have some reservations about your own sexual needs.
Tips To Help Sexual Dysfunction
Loss of Desire: It’s important to get to the heart of the matter. Be honest with yourself about what’s going on. Do you need more help at home or work? Do you need to say ‘yes’ less? Do you need to ask for what you want in bed, or more emotional support? It also helps to invite new ways of thinking about sex into your life. Sex has so many wonderful benefits, and it’s always good to approach it with curiosity and exploration.
Lack of Arousal: Intimate lubrication products are always your friend during sex, like the ones offered from Joylux. These are great if you feel in the mood, but you aren’t self-lubricating. But lubrication should never substitute for deeper issues that may be going on. If you feel anxious, distracted, or disconnected from your partner, it’s important to have those conversations in a safe setting without the pressure of sex.
Painful Vaginal Penetration: Talk with your doctor about the issue to get to the root of the cause. This process may include an examination, blood work, and a run through your health history.
Inability to Orgasm: It’s time to explore down there. There’s no better way to school your partner on how to bring you to climax than to do it yourself. Masturbation is healthy and the best way to discover how you like to be touched (and not touched), and helps bring an awareness to heightened sensations you can experience during sex.
Remember that orgasm isn’t the only goal with sexual experiences. If sex feels good to you, and you feel connected to your partner, don’t feel like it’s a failure if you don’t orgasm. Sex is a wonderful way to deepen your bond, explore your body, and improve your health. But it doesn’t have to look one way, nor does it have to begin in the bedroom. Foreplay is something that should happen all day, even if it doesn’t lead to sex.