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

Doctors often mum about sex after a heart attack

Most doctors don’t offer counseling about resuming sexual activity after a heart attack, especially to people who are older or female. When doctors do give advice, it often includes restrictions that are not supported by evidence.  (Locked) More »

Pelvic organ prolapse: You're not alone

About half of women over 50 have pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause discomfort, incontinence, or pain during sex. Specialists in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery can customize therapy to relieve your symptoms and accommodate lifestyle. (Locked) More »

Enjoying sex later in life

Sexual difficulties may increase with age, for a variety of physical and psychological reasons. There are many effective therapies, but it may take a little work and commitment to restore sexual pleasure. (Locked) More »

Pill-free ways to improve your sex life

There are many reasons why sexual activity can diminish in older age. Sexual activity may slow down for men because of an enlarged prostate that results in difficulty attaining and sustaining an erection. Activity may slow for women because of the effects of menopause, such as decreased libido and vaginal dryness. But many sexual problems can be overcome with lifestyle changes such as exercise, smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, weight control, and eating a healthy diet.  (Locked) More »

Matters of the heart: Sex and cardiovascular disease

Sexual activity and sexual function are major quality-of-life issues for both men and women. Frequency and quality of sex is closely tied to a person’s general health, and many of the symptoms of cardiovascular disease conspire to diminish sexual enjoyment. Good communication between partners and with the doctor can help alleviate many common concerns and put a couple back on the road to intimacy. More »

Attitudes about sexuality and aging

Fantasies can help rev up your sex life. Myths, on the other hand, can stop desire dead in its tracks. Such myths aren't the legends from classical history. They're the stories we tell ourselves and each other to support the notion that older people shouldn't, can't, and wouldn't want to have sex. This type of myth, however, bears as little relationship to reality as do the fanciful sagas of ancient gods and goddesses. Here are some examples of the most popular sexual myths and the myth-busting truths. 1. The myth: Only the young are sexually attractive. The culture we live in exalts youth. Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you'll be barraged with images of supple skin, firm flesh, and lustrous locks. But if your mirror is reflecting a different picture these days, you may feel like the party is going on without you. More »

Understanding Infertility

  Surprising news for both men and women: your biological clocks have been ticking for longer than you think. The results of recent research show fertility begins to decline in women as early as age 27 and in men around age 35. But the news isn't all bad; the fertile period (or open window for conception) during a woman's cycle remains the same length between ages 19 and 39. The study, published in the May 2002 issue of the journal Human Reproduction, involved 782 European couples practicing the rhythm method of contraception. Women recorded their daily body temperatures, the days they had sex, and the days of their menstrual bleeding. Fertility was measured by the probability of becoming pregnant per menstrual cycle. More »