Women's Sexual Health

Sex is an important part of life. For some women, thinking about sex starts early, often before puberty, and lasts until their final days on earth.

On one level, sex is just another hormone-driven bodily function designed to perpetuate the species. On another, it's a pleasurable activity. It's also a connection that can help cement the bonds between two people. 

Sexual health refers to a state of well-being that lets a woman fully participate in and enjoy sexual activity. A range of physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors influence a woman's sexual health.

Sex requires amazing connections between the sex organs, hormone-producing glands, the brain, and the rest of the body. If one part is out of whack, the desire for sex may fade, or the ability to have sex may be compromised. In addition to the physical and biochemical forces at work, a woman's experiences, expectations, mental health, and emotional health shape her sexuality.

For many women, contraception is an important part of sexual health. Another is avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. These include gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia, human papillomavirus, and HIV/AIDS. Using a condom is a key way to protect against getting a sexually transmitted infection.

Women's Sexual Health Articles

Sex hormones and your heart

As people age, the natural decline in sex hormone levels sometimes causes undesirable symptoms, including hot flashes and a flagging sex drive. Thanks to new evidence, information about the cardiovascular safety of estrogen and testosterone therapy has shifted over the years. For women with uncomfortable, frequent hot flashes that disrupt their sleep and daily function, hormone therapy is an option for those who are not at high cardiovascular risk. Men with troubling sexual dysfunction and fatigue may want to ask their doctor about checking their testosterone levels. In men ages 65 and older with low levels, testosterone therapy may improve libido and sexual satisfaction. (Locked) More »

Don't ignore vaginal dryness and pain

Vaginal dryness, irritation, and pain during intercourse affect 50% of women after menopause and are caused by declining estrogen levels in the body. A study showed that vaginal estrogen and moisturizers are equally effective in reducing symptoms in some women. But existing treatments often fall short of providing full relief. (Locked) More »

Can supplements save your sex life?

Most dietary supplements for sexual function haven’t been studied scientifically and may be a waste of money or dangerous for health. The supplements often contain hidden pharmaceutical drugs—like traces of PDE5 inhibitors, medications in the same class that includes prescription erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and smoking cessation can help boost sexual function without medication. If not, there are medical approaches that can help. More »

Is this normal?

Different women experience different types of vaginal discharge. There is a wide range of “normal.” However, some symptoms like postmenopausal bleeding do warrant a closer look from the doctor. (Locked) More »

Will removing your fallopian tubes reduce your risk of ovarian cancer?

Some cases of ovarian cancer originate in the fallopian tubes. Some experts recommend that women who are undergoing pelvic surgery consider having their fallopian tubes removed, a strategy that may help prevent ovarian cancer. But there are potential risks of tube removal should be balanced against the potential benefits. A lack of information about the long-term risks of the procedure is one factor to consider. (Locked) More »

Study finds weak link between birth control and breast cancer

A new study shows that hormonal birth control could raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but only by a small amount. However, women over age 40 who use hormonal birth control may want to ask their doctors about whether they should shift to nonhormonal contraception. (Locked) More »