When should pre-menopausal women seek treatment for this?
Anytime a pre-menopausal woman experiences a sexual concern, it’s appropriate to talk to her healthcare provider. Because certainly, it could be a stressor of everyday life, relationship changes. But it could also be from:
- Medication she’s taking;
- It could be an underlying medical disorder that needs to be diagnosed. So maybe the sexual concern is a symptom of this disorder such as depression or hypothyroidism;
- And it certainly could be female sexual dysfunction.
So whenever there is a concern, a woman should speak to her health care provider.
So this was a national survey that was done in 2500 women between the ages of 21 and 49. It was created by the American sexual health association. And really what this study was looking at is “what is the impact of low sexual desire in a woman’s life.”
The findings from that study are consistent with what we’ve seen in other research studies looking at low sexual desire. You know, it’s interesting, if you look at previous studies that have been done, typically you’ll see more of a negative impact on sexual function as women approach perimenopause and menopause. That’s not really what we saw in the survey. When they stratified the women into two age groups, so 21 to 34 and 35 to 49, they really didn’t see any difference in terms of the impact that low sexual desire had on these women’s lives.
The survey was really interesting because it showed that about just over half of the women in the survey were not very happy with their level of sexual desire. They felt that their sexual desire at the time they took the survey wasn’t close to what it was years ago. So they were concerned about that. 93% of the women felt that their low sexual desire put a strain on their relationship. The majority of the women in the study felt that the low sexual desire would have a negative impact on the relationship. And what I found was really interesting is that again a majority of the women felt they either couldn’t talk to their doctor about it there are solutions available.
So really interesting findings that bring home the point of it is the responsibility of the healthcare provider to bring up sexual function concerns with their patient. It should be a part of every conversation that we have because we know that not only do sexual dysfunction cause these concerns but medications we put patients on, medical conditions that people experience, can all affect their sexual function; and sexual function for most women is considered a very important component of overall health and well-being.
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Does low sexual desire always indicate female sexual disorder?
No. So there’s two buckets women will experience low sexual desire for many reasons. It could be, as I said before, relationship changes, stressors, fatigue, multitasking, medications, hormonal changes, breastfeeding… The list goes on and on. When we’re talking about female sexual dysfunction, we’re talking about a problem for concern that is chronic in nature, so it’s lasting six months or longer, and it causes a woman personal distress. So this is a bothersome issue to her. It doesn’t get better with date night; it doesn’t get better with going on vacation. And these women will say “I’m attracted to my partner, I love my partner, I want to be there for my partner.” But unfortunately because of the sexual dysfunction they can’t.