|Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is FSAD?
A: Female Sexual Arousal Disorder is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: inability to experience an orgasm or lack of lubrication, often causing painful intercourse and/or lack of desire/decreased libido. Any one of these symptoms can prevent women from having a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship with a partner. In combination, these symptoms can prevent a normal sexual life altogether and, therefore, become a real barrier to a couple's happiness and even their ability to sustain a relationship.
Q: If I experience only one of the symptoms, do I have FSAD?
A: Not necessarily. You should consult a physician who will determine whether or not you have FSAD.
Q: What causes female sexual arousal disorder?
A: There are several causes of arousal disorder and they are often interrelated. The physical causes of FSAD include many of the same diseases and behaviors that cause erectile dysfunction in men. These include diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, spinal cord injury, hormonal disorders and smoking. And just as prostate-removal surgery can lead to impotence, pelvic surgery may lead to nerve or blood vessel damage that causes sexual problems. Experts are finding that many of these causes are linked to blood flow. If a woman is experiencing decreased blood flow to the clitoris, she may not be able to have or sustain an orgasm. She also may be experiencing a lack of lubrication, which is also related to blood flow. These physical conditions may or may not interact with psychological issues that contribute to sexual dysfunction such as physical or psychological abuse and low self-esteem or body image. In addition, certain medications can impair sexual function.
Q: What is the relation of blood flow to sensation and lubrication?
A: When blood flow from the arteries to the clitoris increases, a chain reaction begins: The arteries within the clitoris become engorged with blood. The arteries expand to accommodate the additional blood, and as a result, put pressure on the nerves. That pressure causes sensation in the clitoris called sexual stimulation. This in turn results in increased blood flow to the vagina and causes vaginal lubrication to make intercourse easier.
Q: Can taking antidepressants affect my sexual function?
A: Antidepressants can impact both sexual function and libido. Women taking these drugs may report decreased arousal, increased vaginal dryness and increased difficulty reaching orgasm. If you notice such side effects, speak to your physician about switching medications or decreasing the dose.
Q: Can a hysterectomy impact my sexual function?
A: Yes. A large number of women have noted that their sexual response dramatically changed following a hysterectomy. They report a loss of sexual desire, decreased vaginal lubrication and a loss of genital sensation. Even if the ovaries are preserved, you can still experience these symptoms.
Q: What sexual changes may occur in my body as I go through menopause?
A: Many women experience a change in their sexual function during the years immediately before and after menopause. This is primarily a result of a decrease in estrogen and testosterone levels. As women age, they also experience decreased blood flow to their genitals. Common complaints include a loss of desire, diminished responsiveness and low sexual arousal. Vaginal atrophy, which involves thinning, drying and irritation of the vaginal lining, causes significant distress for menopausal women.
Q: Can hormone replacement therapy (HRT) improve my sexual function?
A: If you are a menopausal or post-menopausal woman, HRT can help prevent osteoporosis as well as vaginal atrophy, sexual dysfunction and incontinence. Researchers are evaluating the effect of the combination of HRT with other medications, such as Viagra, but have not found conclusive results.
Q: What are my treatment and therapy options for female sexual arousal disorder?
A: The answer depends on what symptoms you have and the real cause of your symptoms. Historically, the only treatment option for women suffering from sexual dysfunction was sex therapy, lubricating gels and hormone replacement therapy (both estrogen and testosterone for menopausal women). Today, there are new treatment options on the near-term horizon such as Viagra for women and other drugs like apomorphine, phentolamine and prostaglandin. Outside of the whole prescription drug arena, a medical device called the Eros Therapy is available with a doctors prescription. Clinical studies suggest that the device increases blood flow without the side effects associated with prescription drugs.
Q: For painful intercourse caused by dryness, why can't something like KY Jelly or prescription creams fix the problem?
A: K-Y Jelly and other lubricating creams can restore lubrication, but they cannot restore sensation and do not cause arousal. Natural lubrication is an effect of arousal, not a cause.
Q: Doesn't a vibrator cause sexual stimulation?
A: Vibrators may cause sexual stimulation in women who do not have arousal disorder because they are designed for use after sexual arousal has occurred and the vagina is already naturally lubricated. However, there are no scientific studies proving vibrators can restore lubrication and sensation in women who have FSAD, so they are not therapeutic medical devices. In fact, women experiencing painful intercourse due to arousal disorder may find that using a vibrator is just as painful as natural intercourse.
Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent or postpone onset of FSAD?
A: Yes. Increasing your blood flow benefits your total well being as well as your sexual health. You can increase your blood flow by eating a low-fat diet, performing cardiovascular exercises, reducing alcohol consumption and refraining from smoking.