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

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition caused by the growth of the endometrium — tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — in other parts of the body. Endometrium can grow in the Abnormal endometrial tissue acts just like normal endometrial tissue. With each menstrual cycle, it thickens, breaks down, and bleeds. The surrounding tissue can become irritated and may even develop scar tissue. Endometriosis can also cause large, blood filled cysts on the ovaries. These are called chocolate cysts because of their dark color. More »

Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the sudden loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Up to 1 in 5 women who know they are pregnant will miscarry. Most miscarriages that occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are caused by genetic problems. Most early miscarriages can't be prevented or stopped. Later miscarriages may be due to problems with a woman's reproductive system, such as the cervix, uterus, placenta, or because of other complications of pregnancy. Infection and blood-clotting problems can also cause miscarriage. More »

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 »

Stay a step ahead of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among older adults, but the infections are often overdiagnosed and overtreated. In older adults, UTI symptoms include frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate, a burning feeling that occurs with urination, and confusion. Diagnosing a UTI requires testing a urine sample to look for bacteria and white blood cells. If positive, it’s necessary to grow the bacteria in a lab to see which type are causing infection. But even if a person has bacteria and white cells in the urine, it’s not a UTI unless symptoms are also present.  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 »

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 »