Social, emotional, and biological factors that impact female sexual health
or 80 percent of women, the experience of desire is elusive at some time in life. Low sexual desire is often associated with many factors: social, emotional, and biological.
It is always important to first consider and then rule out physiology when thinking about the many things that can negatively impact a woman’s desire. This includes hormonal imbalances (i.e., thyroid hormone, reproductive hormones), high blood pressure, and depression.
These conditions often result in symptoms that interfere with sexual desire: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain. Unfortunately, the medications used to treat depression and high blood pressure may further impact sexual desire and performance.
Hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat the changes in sexual desire and of course they come with their own set of side effects, too.
As women age, the physical health of the vagina also changes. The vaginal walls thin, there is loss of muscle tone, and a decrease in lubrication. These conditions make sexual intercourse irritating and sometimes painful. If a woman is experiencing these symptoms, she needs to consult with her physician for her treatment options.
Socially, women play many roles that may interfere with the lover in us, such as wife, friend, mother, teacher and student. Depending on the woman’s age and stage of life, she can have many things on her mind. Sometimes, her mind is too cluttered to even recognize the desire that may be present. For others, it is simply not there.
A woman who feels the need to conform to societal expectations of female sexual expression may experience conflict when developing an integrated core feminine identification. She may especially have difficulty developing a feminine idea that allows for uninhibited sexual expression. Her struggle may manifest as role conflict and low sexual desire.
If a woman is able to accept her whole self, the part that is mother and the part that represents lover, then, certainly a healthy integration of mother and vixen can be attained. In reality, they are one and the same because they originate from the same source, the initial mother-child bond. This relationship provides the first lessons in love and sexual satisfaction: how to both give and receive pleasure without feelings of guilt or shame.
For women, desire and arousal start in our biggest erogenous zone, the brain. Desire starts outside of the bedroom. She needs her lover to stimulate her mind, heart, and body. He does this in how he treats her. It is important that he shows her that he has her needs in mind.
Call just to say, “I am thinking about you;” pick up the house or better yet, groceries. Some women need a little help getting in the mood sometimes. And there is nothing better than intentional acts of kindness to help her along the way.
It is well known that women are the “emotional ones.” While it is often considered a point of insult, her emotions can and do serve as strength. They can facilitate arousal. As a result of the ability to feel deeply, we can experience and express emotions passionately.
Taking for granted that women all have different appetites when it comes to sex, low sexual desire may be more of a concern for some women and less of a concern for others. Whatever you desire, be sure to fulfill the need.
Dr. Myrtle C. Means is a clinical psychologist and the author of The Recipe for Ecstasy: What Women Want Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction.