​Female Sexual Arousal Disorder​

The persistent failure to achieve or maintain adequate lubrication and sufficient sexual excitement during intercourse, leading to personal distress, is termed as Female Sexual Arousal Disorder. Generally, sexual dysfunctions are a group of disorders related to a particular phase of the sexual response cycle. Their source can be psychological, biological or both. The normal ‘sexual response cycle’ is the sequence of emotional and physical changes that occur in a person as a reaction to sexual stimulation and comprises of four stages: Desire, Arousal, Orgasm, and Resolution.

The second step (arousal), alternatively known as the Plateau Phase, consists of sense of sexual pleasure with accompanying physiological changes. Normally this includes increased blood supply to private organs with resultant swelling of genital structures. Anything that impairs the feeling of satisfaction during intimacy and inability to sustain the sexual excitement can produce an arousal disorder. Similar to hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a number of causative agents have been identified as possible triggers:

  • Certain medications can cause vaginal dryness (anti-allergic and anti-cholinergic)

  • Menopause. Low oestrogen levels may lead to vaginal dryness

  • Any medical illness (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, spinal cord injury etc.)

  • Low self-esteem or poor body image

  • Relationship issues with partner (guilt, anger, fear)

  • Past history of sexual abuse

  • Smoking, alcohol or drug abuse

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Sexual myths​​​​

You may be able to easily identify the disorder as inability to feel excited or aroused during sexual intercourse. However, common symptoms associated with the disorder include:

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Inability to achieve orgasm​

Any difficulty with intimacy and intercourse can put a strain on a relationship. Although you may find it embarrassing, you are welcome to discuss your concerns with the Women's Health Care Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

You will get an opportunity to have a detailed chat with your physician, who might ask some personal and intimate questions. It may feel a bit embarrassing but it will allow your health care provider to conduct a proper assessment. A physical pelvic examination may follow.

If deemed necessary, certain blood tests may be ordered to evaluate you hormone levels, thyroid, cholesterol and rule out diabetes or liver disease.

Management is tailored to each individual’s requirements and preferences. If an underlying disease is identified, then the respective treatment regimen will be applied. You may be directed towards any of these treatments:

  • Referral to a specialized counsellor or sex therapist
  • Lifestyle changes: you may be asked to stop smoking, alcohol or drugs and exercise regularly

  • Hormonal therapy:  oestrogen may be prescribed as oral pill, skin patch, spray, gel, vaginal cream, suppository or a ring placed inside the vagina

  • Vacuum device: placed at the genital region to enhance local blood flow

  • Individual psychotherapy to address issues such as feelings of guilt, poor self-esteem or homosexual impulses

  • Couple’s therapy may be indicated if the disorder is linked to marital conflict​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.​