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Difficulties with sex: women

Sexual difficulties are very common for women of all ages. Having trouble reaching orgasm is one of the most frequent problems women experience.

You don't need to be embarrassed when you experience sexual difficulties. Many women feel inadequate when they admit that something isn't quite right in bed. Yet other women think their job is to pleasure their partner, and therefore they shouldn't complain about pain or discomfort.

But that's not the case: women have the right to a pain-free, fun, and pleasurable sex life. So don't hesitate to see a healthcare professional if you have issues.

Common problems for women have to do with orgasms – not being able to have one, or having it way later than expected.

But, interestingly enough, most sexual difficulties for women are described by their symptoms, such as pain or dryness. While men's conditions are actually given names, such as premature ejaculation.

Does that mean that women's problems are less important or less common? Absolutely not. It might, however, be due to the fact that more research has been done on male problems, or because male problems offer more opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry.

Some sexual difficulties are related to unhealthy lifestyle choices and can be prevented by leading a healthy life: eating a balanced diet, exercising, not smoking and minimizing alcohol consumption. Basically, anything that is good for your overall health is generally good for your sexual health. But of course living a healthy life does not mean you will be immune to having issues in bed – but it might reduce the risk.

When seeing a healthcare provider for issues, the doctor will likely ask you a lot of questions about your sexual, physical and emotional health. The diagnosis will be made a lot easier if you answer these questions as honestly and in-depth as you can – even though it might feel awkward. The doctor will also likely examine you. Don't be ashamed or afraid. Remember: it's very common to have problems and you are doing the right thing by getting them treated.

What you will have to resolve the problem depends on the sexual difficulty. Below we cover the most common conditions, their causes and their treatments.

Sexual difficulties affect both partners

Having sexual health issues will obviously have a negative effect on your sex life. If a woman is always worried about being in pain, it’s going to be difficult for her to relax and fully enjoy the experience – and that also means her partner might get stressed. The couple might even end up avoiding sex altogether and even intimacy in general – leaving everybody frustrated and unsatisfied.

So it's good to address any issues as soon as they arise.

Painful sex

Painful sex is quite common and can have many different causes – from having an infection to psychological trauma. If the pain is physical, it’s sometimes called dyspareunia
Dryness and vaginism can be two very specific causes for painful intercourse.

The pain can be around any part of the vagina and vulva, so anywhere on the outside or the inside. It can happen during or after sex.

Pain can lead to women losing interest in sex. This is understandable since why would you do something that causes unwanted pain?

So before pain can destroy your desires, see a healthcare professional to access the causes of your pain and seek treatment accordingly.

Because there are many different origins for the pain, the treatment will depend on your personal situation.

Low libido

Having low libido means that you have no or almost no sexual desire. This can be either temporary or last for longer periods of time.

Low libido is often caused by psychological factors, such as not feeling good about yourself, relationship problems or fears associated with making love.

Low libido is very common. Many women experience it after giving birth. Smoking and drugs can also play a role, as can some medications.

Stress and depression can also play a factor when it comes to low desire.

Women with low desire will often shy away from initiating any kind of sexual contact and avoid the topic of sex with their partner. If they try to have sex, they might be having trouble getting aroused or relaxing.

In order to treat low libido, a healthcare provider will first need to figure out what causes the problem, and then develop a treatment plan based on this. This can involve psychological care or a change in medication.


Problems with lubrication can affect women of all ages.

There are many different causes for dryness, from being dehydrated to hormonal imbalances.

Dryness can cause sex to be uncomfortable or even painful, and, if it happens frequently, can affect the want to have sex.

Using lubricants can be a great short-term solution. But you should also see a healthcare provider to get to the bottom of the problem if it happens over longer periods of time.

Women generally also take longer than men to get aroused, so having more and longer foreplay and waiting until both partners are aroused may also help with dryness.

Orgasms and arousal problems

Some women aren't able to get aroused. This can be related to having low libido. Sometimes, a woman feels desire but the physical response is missing. Both can be distressing for both partners.

Illnesses such as diabetes or arthritis can cause blood flow to the genitals to decrease; which means the physical signs of arousal aren't happening.

Orgasms can also cause problems. They can either be delayed (it takes a long time to orgasm), or a woman may be unable to reach an orgasm altogether.

Women don’t always know how to get themselves to the point of orgasm. Getting to know your body, with your partner or through masturbation, can help. It’s okay to ask for your needs to be met.

Also, sometimes it’s a mental block, especially when women have been told it’s not okay for them to enjoy sex. Try to read up about enjoying sex and pleasure. Or talk to someone you trust about your concerns.

Other causes for sexual difficulties in women

Having your uterus removed may cause a number of changes to a woman's sex life.
She may experience a decrease in libido, problems with lubrication and less sensation when having sex.

These changes can be due to tissue damage caused by the surgery or the hormonal changes associated with the procedure.

Some birth control methods, especially hormonal ones, can impact a woman's sex life. Many changes are known side-effects of family planning methods and they often go away or decrease with time.

Common changes include a decrease in desire and dryness.

If the problem does not go away, it's a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider and discuss steps forward.
Giving birth
It can take up to a few months after giving birth until a woman is ready for sex again. And it can be and feel different than it was before.

This doesn't mean there is anything wrong, but you might have to adjust some expectations or change some things around.

Read more about sex after having a baby here.

Because women produce less oestrogen after going through menopause, difficulties may arise. Lack of desire is often associated with mood swings that come with the hormonal changes. Dryness and decreased sensation can also occur. Hormonal replacement therapy can be a good treatment option.

Did you learn something new?

Hey Belly, Arousal is key if you are going to make love or when having intercourse. If a woman is not aroused it then means her vagina is not wet enough and so penetration will be uncomfortable even painful, if a man is not aroused then he may not have an erection which makes penetration impossible. If one partner is not arouse, it maybe challenging to make love, this is why partners need to spend time in foreplay and also communicate with each other about what gets them aroused. Check out the following articles for more information. https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/orgasms/her-orgasms https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/orgasms/his-orgasms
Vaginal dryness and lack of desire for sex but in mind I want it but body response is low help me am worried depression is killing me I now hate sex coz of that Refer me to someone if possible

Hi Shaky, 

Vaginal dryness affects some women at various stages of their lives. There are a few things that can cause vaginal dryness. The most important first step is to find out the cause after this you can come up with a solution. Examples of such causes include certain contraceptives, certain medications, use of some products around your vagina, menopause, etc. Read this article to find out more: Why is my vagina dry? If symptoms persist after trying the tips given in the article, you need to see your gynaecologist for a complete diagnosis.

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 10:10 pm
Hi Stash, The pill is not expected to affect your vagina in this way. Remember vaginal wetness particularly during sex is the result of arousal. Check out the following article for more information. https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/orgasms/her-orgasms
Hi Nna, Arousal is key since when you are aroused your vagina will self lubricate which makes penetration easier and enjoyable for both partners. If a woman is not aroused it then means her vagina is not wet enough and so penetration will be uncomfortable even painful. Foreplay is key toward arousal, spend time in foreplay you can even show your partner what to do to get you aroused. Lastly, you can also consider using artificial lubrication like KY Jelly which you can find at your local Pharmacy. Check out the following article for more information;- https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/orgasms/her-orgasms https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-time-to-listen-up
So sorry about this. Pain during sex can be the result of a number of things including, an infection, lack of lubrication during intercourse or one is just not relaxed at the time of penetrating. Check out this articles;- https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-and-periods
Hi Lilian, So sorry about that experience. The causes of pain during sex vary from Psychological reasons, which may include a past painful experience which makes you expect it to happen again leading tension and Physical causes that may include the presence of an infection. Other reasons include the position while having intercourse or the vagina may just not be well lubricated during intercourse making penetration difficult and painful. Check out these articles;- https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-time-to-listen-up https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-and-periods
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