What is Frigidity?

Frigidity is broadly defined as a lack of sexual desire (Libido) and an inability to be aroused by stimulation, in women who have crossed puberty. The lack of sexual desire can be either psychological or could be due to a physical condition. It affects up to 40% of adult women at some time in their life. Sexuality is a complex set of emotions and behaviours involving feelings of romance, closeness and security. Frigidity, whether psychological or physical can lead to conflict and cause damage to the relationship with the partner.

Female sexual dysfunction classified broadly into four categories. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is characterized by an almost total lack of interest and aversion to sex. The lack of sexual desire is embedded into the woman`s subconscious and is linked to larger issues which need to be identified and discussed. The second category is known as Female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) in which the woman has difficulty being aroused. It could be due to the partner`s poor or insensitive technique, guilt about the sexual act, past sexual abuse or anxiety about sexual inadequacy.

In the third category, Female orgasmic disorder (FOD), the woman participates in the sexual act, but finds little pleasure in it and is unable to reach orgasm. Achieving orgasm in women is a learned response, unlike in men in whom it is an inherent response. There could be problems with sexual technique, previous sexual trauma, lack of familiarity and other inhibitions. Proper counselling could help resolve the problem.

The fourth and last category of female sexual dysfunction is called Dyspareunia or pain and discomfort during intercourse. It can be due to local infections like vaginitis, urethritis etc or presence of an abscess, wart, tumour or other growth in the area. Appropriate medical or surgical treatment would relieve the symptoms and the woman can have a normal sexual life. If the condition is due to psychological reasons, it requires the professional help of a psychiatrist. Vaginismus is a condition in which there is inappropriate contraction of the muscles around the vagina making penetration during sexual intercourse difficult or impossible. The treatment involves pelvic exercises and physiotherapy which would help the woman have a normal sexual intercourse.

Many general health disorders can also cause female sexual dysfunction. Fatigue, ill health, discomfort after childbirth, etc can be responsible for the lack of desire for sex. Medical disorders like diabetes, heart disease, arterial disease etc can cause impairment of blood flow to the vaginal area, especially to the clitoris, leading to vaginal dryness and reduced sensitivity. Damage to the nerves in the pelvic region during assisted child birth and surgery can also weaken the sensitivity. The Hormones oestrogen and progesterone play a crucial role in a woman`s sexual arousal. There is reduced sexual desire in many women after menopause due to the reduction of the hormone levels leading to impaired sensitivity of the breasts and clitoris and vaginal dryness.

Hormonal imbalances during and after pregnancy and while breastfeeding can lead to a temporary lack of sexual desire. Long term use of contraceptive pills can also affect the hormonal levels leading to reduced sexual desire. Use of certain drugs like sleeping pills, antidepressants and alcohol can lead to impaired libido. Psychological causes for frigidity include stress, anxiety, depression, fear of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases and relationship problems with the partner and need to be managed with professional help.

Poor communication between the partners is often at fault in female sexual dysfunction. The inability of the woman to express her desires and voice her problems often compounds the problem. The lack of knowledge about a woman`s anatomy by the male partner can cause confusion and embarrassment leading to the woman not being aroused. Sexuality is one of the important determinants of a balanced personality and a full life. It is important that couples have healthy and satisfying sexual relationships and female sexuality holds the key to it.

Here is a story of how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helped Anna to overcome frigidity and compulsive avoidance of sex, or sexual anorexia. Source >> About.com

Author: Dr. Pilli Samuel Rajkumar, MD (Hyderabad, India)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice