Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)
Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is a common problem affecting approximately 40% of women. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of women seek medical attention for FSD. And regrettably, there are very few to no treatment options. However, biologic treatment has created new options with great outcomes and no side effects.
FSD is essentially a disruption in the cycle of female sexual arousal. Female sexuality is much more complex than male’s. And this may be the reason why more women suffer from sexual dysfunction than men.
Physiology of Female Sexual Arousal
For women, sexuality is a multifactorial phenomenon involving blood vessels, nerves, hormones, and psychological factors. The currently accepted model of female sexuality is the one described by Dr. Kaplan in 1979.
Dr. Kaplan’s 3 Phase Model of Female Sexuality
Dr. Kaplan’s model of female sexuality consists of three phases:
This is the inciting factor for the overall response cycle.
Upon activation of specific sexual centers in the brain, an electrical signal is transmitted to the clitoris and vagina through the autonomic nervous system. This causes relaxation of the muscles of the clitoris and the vaginal wall. Then, the molecule nitrous oxide is released and causes the dilation of the blood arteries, allowing blood to enter the clitoris, labia minora, and the remainder of the pelvic and vaginal organs. At the same time, the glands initiate the secretion of lubricants that pass through the vaginal wall. As blood flow increases, the secretion of lubrication increases.
Eventually, the clitoris and the labia minora receive so much blood flow that they engorge. Studies have shown that the size of the labia minora can increase to two to three times its original size during sexual excitement. This engorgement causes eversion of the labia, exposing their inner surface which has more sensitive nerve endings.
As a result of relaxation of the vaginal wall muscles, the vaginal canal dilates and lengthens during the arousal phase.
3. And Orgasm
A lot of muscle tension is built up during the arousal phase, but once all of the factors are met, and sufficient stimulation has occurred, orgasm begins. During orgasm, the muscles in your vagina, uterus, and anus rhythmically contract and then relax, resulting in a feeling of release. All the while, dopamine and oxytocin are released, which typically result in feelings of pleasure and emotional closeness to a partner.
Dysfunction in any of these three phases, or any components involved in the process, could lead to dysfunction of the entire cycle of female sexual arousal. And, therefore, cause FSD.
Symptoms of Female Sexual Dysfunction
Let’s identify symptoms that may develop when the female sexual arousal cycle is disrupted and FSD becomes apparent.
FSD is commonly characterized by the following symptoms:
- A decreased sense of sexual arousal,
- Difficulty achieving orgasm,
- Pain and discomfort during intercourse,
- And diminished vaginal lubrication.
When dealing with FSD symptoms, it is helpful to understand what kinds of dysfunctions there are, and what can cause them.
5 Types and Causes of Female Sexual Dysfunction
There are five types and causes of FSD that can lead to the disruption of the female sexual arousal cycle and lead to the aforementioned symptoms. FSD could have any or all of the following five etiologies:
Hormones play an important role in creating and maintaining a healthy sexual physiology. Disruption of any hormone can cause sexual dysfunction. For example, testosterone is typically associated with men, but it plays a critical role in female sexual well-being. This is why testing hormone levels should be one of the first steps in diagnosing and evaluating FSD.
Certain health issues (such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, decreased nitric oxide, or age-related capillary problems) can cause decreased blood flow to areas such as the pelvic structures (including the clitoris and labia) causing a lack of arousal and decrease in lubrication making intercourse uncomfortable or painful.
With age, we lose nerve endings throughout our entire body, which leads to decreased sensitivity. As the nerves get less active and less sensitive, there is less nitric oxide available to start the arousal phase. Decreased sensitivity in areas vital to sex (such as the clitoris and vagina) can directly lead to a lack of orgasm (anorgasmia).
Certain voluntary pelvic floor muscles play a big role in arousal and orgasm. Examples of these muscles are the levator ani and perineal membrane. Spasms of these muscles can cause spasms of the vaginal wall muscles, which prevents their relaxation and lengthening during the arousal phase, leading to painful intercourse called dyspareunia. An opposite issue, hypotonia, where these muscles are too relaxed, can cause decreased sensation of the vagina, anorgasmia, as well as urinary incontinence. In both instances – spasms and hypotonia – women experience FSD.
Emotional and relationship issues play a more sensitive role in FSD than in male sexual dysfunction. Remember that the entire female sexual cycle starts with stimulation of specific centers in the brain. Therefore, issues such as self-esteem, body image, and the quality of the relationship with her partner can lead to FSD. Childhood trauma and abuse, and history of sexual abuse and harassment, can also be major factors. Depression can also affect female sexuality. Psychological and physiological issues can fuel one another. And so, just as it is important to take care of one’s body by going to the doctor, the health of one’s mind must be addressed by a professional therapist and/or psychiatrist with experience in this area.
The best treatments take all of these factors into consideration, and aim to decrease symptoms of FSD in order to give you the best quality of life.
How Female Sexual Dysfunction Can Affect Your Life
Considering the symptoms, dysfunctions, and causes of FSD, it is no wonder that it can have devastating effects on our lives, including:
- Distress in a relationship,
- And a decreased sense of self-confidence.
But there is hope in biologic treatment.
Treatment of Female Sexual Dysfunction
As we previously mentioned, there are few to no treatments for FSD. But biologic treatment shows promising results in improving and restoring previous sexual functioning. So you can get your sex life back.
Biologic treatment consists of injecting a few strategic areas with the body’s own plasma and platelets to jump start the body’s repair and regeneration mechanism. The mechanism is set into action in the following ways:
- New blood vessels form (angiogenesis), which increase the blood flow to the clitoris, labia, and the remainder of the vagina.
- New nerve endings form, increasing the sensitivity and secretion of nitrous oxide.
- The combination of increased blood flow, sensitivity, and nitric oxide leads to the secretion of more lubricants.
- The muscles of the pelvic floor also regenerate, and then more blood flows to them which results in more optimal muscular function. This reduces spasms or hypotonia. Therefore, improving vaginal relaxation and lengthening. This also helps resolve, or improve, urinary incontinence.
We combine biologic treatment with hormonal checkups, and adjust treatment according to your individual needs, to achieve optimal results. In general, the biologic of choice is the patient’s own plasma with platelets, which is obtained through a simple blood draw. The entire treatment procedure is done under local anesthesia, so it is relatively painless. And the best part is that there are no side effects, because we are simply using your own body to heal itself.