Exploring the intricacies of female sexuality

Last Modified: 4/05/2022

female sexuality

The following content is part of a presentation given by Michele Helfgott, MD, PPG – Integrative Medicine.

Female sexuality is complicated. It’s extremely common for women to experience a low libido in their 30s, 40s and 50s. In many cases, we find that women with low libidos are stressed, tired, and don’t feel good (physically, mentally and emotionally). Plus, with everything going on in our lives, our sexual health tends to drop to the end of our priority list.

Men’s sexuality vs. women’s sexuality

In most cases, a man’s sexuality is quite linear. Men are often interested in the physical aspects of sexuality with limited emotional attachment. In fact, the human sex response for a man includes desire, arousal, orgasm and resolution. However, a woman’s sexuality is more complex and nonlinear, with intimacy as the driving force. Women often engage in sexual activity to enhance emotional intimacy. Once achieved, then desire gets triggered. The human sex response for women includes intimacy needs, sexual stimuli, sexual arousal, sexual desire and enhanced intimacy.

Reasons women struggle to be intimate

Many factors (emotional and relational) can affect a women’s sexuality and intimacy. Some of the most common include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Communication
  • Poor body image/self-esteem
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Lack of time
  • Logistics/timing
  • Relationship conflict
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic floor weakness
  • Past sexual abuse or trauma

In our everyday lives and relationships, people often get busy with their careers, families and other obligations, which is why sex isn’t always a priority.

Ways of improving your sexual health

The first step in improving your intimate relationships is being mindful and aware of where you are in your sexual health. The next step is to work on feeling better about yourself and invest in a little self-care, which should include a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, managing stress levels, and making time for yourself as well as your significant other.

Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your partner or a medical professional and ask for help if needed. The conversation may be difficult, but it’s important. Be upfront and honest. Let them know that you’re struggling. It’s a common occurrence, but you must talk about it. Figure out what works for you and your partner, your normal may be different than other couples. Remember, maintaining a healthy intimate relationship takes work. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Where to turn if you’re struggling

Start by having a conversation with your gynecologist. However, if you’re experiencing an issue that may require help beyond the above recommendations, then please speak with your primary care provider to see if counseling, physical therapy, hormones, or another form of treatment might be right for you. If you’re already in counseling, make sure you discuss your concerns around sexual health to figure out what’s getting in the way.  

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