Female impotence, or female sexual dysfunction, is a catchall term used to describe difficulties in having sexual desire, enjoying sex, being adequately aroused or having an orgasm, in women. A woman may experience decreased sexual desire for a number of reasons, including stress and exhaustion. She may be also unable to enjoy sex because she has one of several sex pain disorders, which in turn may be caused by an underlying condition. Women with breast cancer or gynaecologic disorders may easily experience sexual dysfunction.
One type of female impotence is analogous to male impotence, and may be caused by decreased blood flow to the clitoris during sexual intercourse. Psycho-social factors such as previous or ongoing sexual or physical abuse or an unresolved conflict over sexual identity may also play a role in female sexual dysfunction.
To provide appropriate treatment to a woman suffering from sexual dysfunction, her physician first has to overcome the challenge of separating intrinsic from extrinsic reasons for such dysfunction. Besides pain during sex or the presence of a clear underlying disorder, it may be difficult to distinguish between a woman’s inability to become aroused and have an orgasm from the technique used by her partner to stimulate her.
Many women may only be able to have an orgasm through clitoral stimulation but gender roles and other barriers may get in the way of a woman expressing her needs to her sex partner. Mental stimulation plays a major part (hence the importance of foreplay); if a woman is dissatisfied with her sex partner for other reasons, this may translate into decreased libido with that partner. This is called situational sexual dysfunction, and the woman may experience no problems with a partner she considers more appealing.
Where an underlying reason can be identified, female sexual dysfunction is treatable. In many cases, a doctor may recommend counseling for a woman and possibly her partner. What is important to remember is that it is not necessarily long-term, nor necessarily serious.