What Are Some Risk Factors for Female Sexual Dysfunction?

What Are Some Risk Factors for Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction encompasses a variety of different medical conditions or disorders that interfere with a woman’s sexual response or pleasure. This could be experiencing pain during sex, having trouble reaching orgasm, or feeling a lack of sexual desire that is distressing to the woman or her partner.

Some people believe that sexual dysfunction is just a part of getting older. However, while sexual dysfunction may be associated with older age, it is not necessarily inevitable. Not all people develop a type of sexual dysfunction as they get older, and sexual dysfunctions are treatable.

Nevertheless, it can be helpful to know the potential risk factors for sexual dysfunction so that you can limit the risks that are within your control and continue to enjoy healthy, satisfying sexual experiences for as long as possible.

A cross-sectional population-based study of 381 Brazilian women between the ages 45 to 83 years assessed the women’s sexual function in relation to their level of physical activity, depressive symptoms, self-assessment of health, sleep satisfaction, and sociodemographic characteristics like age, education level, and marital status.

The women in this study had all participated in the Survey of Women’s Health in Uberaba, Brazil, between 2014 to 2015. This survey measured many aspects of women’s health and included questions such as “How satisfied are you with your health?” and “How satisfied are you with your sleep?”, both of which were ranked on a scale from 1 to 5.

Their sexual function was measured by the Sexual Quotient – female version (QS-F). By this measure, the overall prevalence of sexual dysfunction in this group of women was 38.3%.

In the end, the researchers found that low satisfaction with sleep, advanced age, low education level, not having a partner, and low levels of physical activity were associated with female sexual dysfunction. Perhaps the most surprising finding was that dissatisfaction with sleep increased an individual’s odds of having female sexual dysfunction by four times and was therefore the most significant risk factor for sexual dysfunction in this study.

Clearly, some of these factors are out of one’s control. However, when it comes to physical activity and sleep, there may be room to make lifestyle adjustments. Because going from little to no physical activity to a full-blown daily workout routine is a daunting task that will likely lead to burnout, it is a good idea to slowly increase your physical activity. You may try going for a short walk once a day and gradually increasing your distance or speed. Doing physical activity with a friend or family member may help hold you accountable and can make it a more enjoyable experience.

As for sleep, it can be helpful to stop using electronic devices before bed and to designate a time to unwind from the day. Practicing good sleep hygiene by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and free of electronic distractions can create a favorable sleep environment. Lastly, sticking to a routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day can help the body sync up with its natural circadian rhythms.

Of course, not all sexual dysfunctions can be prevented or healed through increasing your physical activity or getting better sleep. If you are experiencing a sexual dysfunction that is affecting your sex life, speak with your health care provider about treatment options.


Reis, S.C.R.M., Pinto, J.M., de Walsh, I.A.P., de Castro, S.S., Meirelles, M.C.C.C., & Pereira-Baldon, V.S. (2022). Predictive Factors for the Risk of Sexual Dysfunction in Climacteric Women: Population-based Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine19(10), 1546-1552. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.06.019

Other Popular Articles

What Is Jelqing, and Does It Actually Work?

The term “jelqing” refers to a set of penis stretching exercises that some believe can make the penis bigger. Although the practice has gained attention and popularity in blogs and internet forums in recent years, there is no scientific evidence that it is an effective way to permanently increase the size of one’s penis. In fact, in some cases, jelqing may actually cause damage to the penis, so it is a good idea to get all the facts before setting off to try it.

What Is the Average Penis Size?

If you have ever wondered how your penis compares to others in terms of size, you are not alone. Many men are curious to know how their penises stack up compared to the average. Unfortunately, general curiosity can sometimes give way to full-on obsession and anxiety about penis size. This can be an unhealthy and often unnecessary fixation, especially because most men who think their penises are too small have perfectly normal-sized penises.

What Is Sensate Focus and How Does It Work?

Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple.

What Is Edging and Why Do People Do It?

Edging is the practice of stopping sexual stimulation before reaching orgasm to prolong a sexual experience. The term stems from the concept of approaching the metaphorical “edge” of orgasm but stopping before going over the edge.

Can Sex Reduce Menstrual Cramps?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Having sex while you experience menstrual cramps is healthy and can provide significant benefits. While it might not be the first activity that comes to mind when your PMS or period cramping begins, many people enjoy sex to reduce menstrual cramps, experience increased pleasure and benefit from other advantages. Learn more about having sex while menstrual cramps are happening and how it can help your body.

Can Sex Throw off Your Vaginal pH Balance?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Your vagina is a pretty powerful organ. It is a pathway for menstrual blood and babies. It also is a main player in sexual intercourse. You might hear about your vagina’s pH and worry that yours is at risk. Here’s what to know about vaginal pH, including the impacts sex could have.

Find a Provider

Find a provider who specializes in sexual medicine in your area.