Female sexual problems
Many women have problems with sex at some stage in their lives. With symptoms ranging from painful intercourse to feeling anxious during sex, difficulties climaxing to loss of interest in sex, many of the issues women can face can be linked with how they think and feel.
This is where many of the sexual issues that women face can differ from men’s sexual problems - the causes are often psychological rather than physiological. This can mean that treatment is more complex than it is for men, which can sometimes be solved with medication alone. But, for women’s sexual problems, successful treatment often involves delving into the mind.
On this page, we'll take a look at some of the common sexual problems women face and explore how hypnotherapy can help.
Types of female sex problems
There are many different problems that can affect your enjoyment of sex or intimacy with a partner. Some of the more common issues are listed below.
Pain during sex
Also known as dyspareunia, pain during sex can be very common - particularly in women who have gone through, or are going through, the menopause, due to a fall in oestrogen levels.
There are various other medical conditions that can contribute to this pain, including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, as well as scar tissue from surgery and sexually transmitted diseases. But, when physical causes are ruled out, painful intercourse is a learned response to sex. It can also be due to poor lubrication during sexual intimacy, which may be psychologically linked.
If left untreated, dyspareunia can lead to a negative cycle of reduced sex drive, avoidance of sexual activity or anorgasmia.
In some cases, women experiencing pain during sex may have vaginismus - a distressing condition characterised by an involuntary spasm of the muscles that surround the entrance of the vagina. Vaginismus symptoms can be linked to some physical conditions, however, it is more commonly linked to psychological factors, such as relationship problems or a fear of pregnancy.
Early sexual experiences, including unpleasant or painful past experiences, or simply not being ready, can create anxiety and fear around sex causing the body to automatically protect itself and shut down. Vaginismus is common in women who fear penetration, and this may stem from a long-term sexual phobia or previous traumatic or painful experiences, such as sexual abuse or childbirth.
Sexual pain disorders affect women almost exclusively and are known as dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and vaginismus (an involuntary spasm of the muscles of the vaginal wall that interferes with intercourse).
Anorgasmia, or female orgasmic disorder, is the absence or persistent delay of orgasm following stimulation. Although many women do not need to have an orgasm to enjoy sex, being unable to orgasm may be troubling for some women and their partners.
Reasons why a woman can't orgasm vary from medical causes to deep-rooted psychological issues that may be impacting your ability to 'let go'. Mental health issues such as depression or previous traumatic experiences can also contribute to orgasmic disorder.
Some women may experience anorgasmia due to a lack of knowledge about sexual contact or have a very strong fear of sex and feeling aroused (often out of fear of losing control). Others may be dissatisfied in their relationship and with the sexual stimulation that their partner is (or isn't) providing.
Loss of libido
Sex drive is a completely personal and individual aspect of what makes us who we are and, like many other things about us, it can change over time. It is particularly common for a woman to experience low libido at certain times in life - particularly during pregnancy and the menopause - but some women may have it more persistently.
As there are many factors that can lead to experiencing low sex drive - both psychological and physical - it is advisable to consult your GP as the first port of call. Some common causes include hormone problems, diabetes, depression, excessive tiredness, traumatic sexual experiences, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Inhibited sexual desire (ISD) is common in women but men can also be affected, as Biodun Ogunyemi ANLP, BNLP, SNLP, C.H, Dip. Hyp. explores in his article ‘Lost your mojo?’
There are many reasons why your sex drive can decrease or disappear altogether regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. It can creep up suddenly without you even realising and it may take your partner to point it out to you before you sit up and take note. There may be something worrying you, constantly playing on your mind and this can have an impact on your general health and libido.
Whilst it is common for sexual desire to fluctuate, if your sex drive is unusually low or is causing problems in your relationship, it may be time to seek professional help.
Sex addiction can sometimes be confused with having a high sex drive. However, this is not the case. It is not the frequency of sexual activity you engage in that determines a sex addiction, it is whether you feel in control of your urges, or not.
If you’re engaging in sexual activity that’s putting you or other people at risk, or it’s having a negative effect on your own or another person’s life, it could be worth speaking to a professional.
To find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you overcome sex addiction, visit our dedicated fact-sheet.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Talking about sex problems is understandably difficult and it can feel embarrassing for many. As a result, some people may refrain from seeking help. But, suffering in silence can make the problem worse, and it could lead to a lot of stress and unhappiness in your life and for those around you - particularly your partner.
Traditional sex therapy is often more successful when both co-operative partners are involved. But, an advantage of hypnotherapy is that it may be used to treat an individual, without the partner’s involvement. Where a sexual problem has an emotional cause rather than a physical one, hypnotherapy can help you understand and overcome the problem.
Be sure to seek advice from your GP to rule out any physical factors which may be contributing to your problem.
Hypnosis offers techniques that allow rapid identification of underlying conflicts, unresolved feelings about past events and factors beyond conscious awareness. Below we will explore some of the ways hypnotherapy can help you overcome sexual problems.
Positive thoughts towards sex
Through hypnotherapy, you and your therapist will work with your subconscious mind (which stores all of your memories and monitors bodily functions) to uncover the root cause of the problem you are facing. Using regression techniques, you can heal any past trauma experienced and remove any anxiety you feel towards sex.
Your hypnotherapist can also provide positive suggestions to help you focus on pleasurable thoughts and feelings about sex, for a healthy, satisfying sex life. One particular method, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), can help to re-align the mind and remove any self-imposed ‘blockages’. If you are experiencing anorgasmia, for instance, your hypnotherapist will help you to keep an open mind and positive outlook, whereby you allow intercourse to naturally progress to orgasm.
Utilising visualisation techniques will allow you to begin seeing yourself how you want to be or achieving a specific goal. Affirmations can also be helpful, to reinforce the image you are focusing on in your mind.
For example, if you are struggling with body image issues or having your partner see you naked, you could work with an affirmation such as, ‘My partner finds me sexually attractive'. Continuing to practise these techniques outside of your hypnotherapy sessions will increase your chances of success. Your hypnotherapist may also give you recordings of your sessions to help you with this.
Stress can impact us hugely in all areas of our lives, particularly our libidos. The hormones that are released when we are stressed are a natural response to how we are feeling, and this is what can impact your sex drive.
Of course, we can’t eliminate all sources of stress from our lives, but what we can do is change how we respond to stress. This is where hypnotherapy can help. Your hypnotherapist can help you to identify specific causes of stress, anxiety or worry in your life and help you develop the techniques to take control of these feelings.
When you are in a relaxed state, the mind is more easily able to adapt and accept the suggestions that your hypnotherapist is making. They will ensure that the environment for your session is calm and will help you to concentrate on your breathing so that your body can relax and get back into synchrony - allowing your mind to focus.
Through hypnotherapy, you will begin to feel confident and relaxed in yourself and your body to enjoy a sexual, intimate relationship that feels good for you.
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