Sexual Health in Women Experiencing Sexual Pain: The Answer

sexual health for women

Women who don’t experience pleasure during sexual intercourse often suffer alone because they don’t know where to turn for help. For one, it may be hard for them to define the problem—they may not know what type of experience they’re searching for or how to get there, especially if they’ve never experienced an orgasm. For other women, sexual intercourse frequently causes discomfort or outright pain, which can quickly diminish any pleasure involved in the experience. This pain during sex can be difficult or embarrassing to discuss with a partner, let alone a medical provider.

The ability to experience sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction is crucial to a woman’s health and wellbeing. Having sex without pain is also a critical part of having a high quality of life. For this reason, experts classify this sexual dysfunction as a significant public health burden.

Unfortunately, too many women have painful sex (dyspareunia). These are lackluster or non-existent orgasms. If they have sought help in the past for their sexual concerns, they may have received non-constructive feedback such as it’s “all in your head,” leaving them without a concrete solution.

If any of the above conditions sound familiar, you are not alone; in fact, a large proportion of women suffer from sexual concerns. Here’s what you need to know about the problem of sexual dysfunction in women and what the research says about improving your sex life for the better.

Clear Passage Wurn Technique Therapy: The Pain-Free, Non-Medical, Non-Surgical Answer You have Needed for Your Sexual Pain.

Prescription and counseling-based treatments for female sexual dysfunction often leave women with inadequate improvement in their symptoms. However, physical therapy that focuses specifically on pelvic health can play a substantial role in improving sexual function. Pelvic physical therapy can help improve sexual function for women who struggle with painful sex, vaginismus, and pelvic pain, in addition to helping with other conditions that can contribute to sexual dysfunction, such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Recent research from the journal of Sexual Medicine Reviews notes that pelvic floor physical therapy can successfully resolve any sexual dysfunction condition. 

Before diving into the Clear Passage Approach, let’s understand the problem.

What is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

The phenomenon of female sexual dysfunction refers to a woman’s subjective experience in a sexual encounter, either alone or with a partner. A satisfactory sexual experience looks different for every woman, and some women can have a satisfying sexual experience despite a missing aspect of their sexual function. However, when a woman consistently classifies a sexual experience as being suboptimal, especially if it falls short compared to her previous experiences or a previous state of health, then the concept of sexual dysfunction comes into play.

The Scope of the Problem — Sexual Dysfunction in Women

Female sexual dysfunction is widespread, with some researchers estimating it to affect greater than 40 percent of premenopausal women around the globe. Unfortunately, when dealing with a sexual dysfunction condition, it does not occur in an isolated vacuum. Sexual health concerns can carry over into other aspects of your life, including self-image, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and even psychological health. Experts have found that up to 12 percent of women experience personal or interpersonal distress stemming from their sexual problems. 

Furthermore, sexual dysfunction can stem from issues with several body systems as sexual health is informed by a delicate dance between different organs. 

The Neurological Component

A primary sexual organ, the brain, is highly involved in contributing to a woman’s ability to reach a state of lubrication and arousal. Hence, a functional neurological system is essential for robust sex life. 

The Vascular & Hormonal Components

The vascular and endocrine systems are also involved in a woman’s sexual response, and problems with either of these systems can also contribute to sexual dysfunction. 

The Psychological Component

The third aspect of the sexual response is psychological—especially when a woman has a history of experiencing sexual trauma or abuse.

What are the Six Defining Domains of Sexual Function?

Researchers who study sexual function and treatments used to improve sexual function often use a classification system that involves the following six domains: 

  1. Desire
  2. Arousal
  3. Orgasm
  4. Pain
  5. Lubrication
  6. Satisfaction. 

These domains align with the six more common disorders of sexual function:

  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
  • Female sexual arousal disorder
  • Lubrication difficulties
  • Female orgasmic disorder
  • Sexual aversion disorder
  • Pain disorders

Here’s what you need to know about each of the domains of sexual function and how they relate to one another.

  1. Desire

Your sexual desire, also known as your “sex drive” or “libido,” is influenced by many factors, including your hormones. In men, the testosterone hormone is an integral component of sexual desire. However, testosterone is also present in lower levels in women, and it also contributes to sexual desire and other hormones such as dopamine, estrogen, and progesterone.

When women have low sexual desire, they often experience a lack of interest in initiating or pursuing sexual relationships, despite a physical ability to have sexual intercourse, and they may not have sexual fantasies.

Sexual desire is often the primary determinant of the cascade of sexual function domains. A lack of sexual desire is highly connected with a woman’s ability to become aroused and achieve adequate lubrication, which can inhibit her ability to orgasm or experience sexual satisfaction. It may also contribute to her having pain with intercourse.

Your sexual desire can fluctuate throughout your lifetime, varying with your state of life, physical health, partner, and other external conditions. The condition of low sexual desire in women is officially known as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” or HSDD. Researchers estimate that HSDD may be present in up to a third of adult women; however, fewer than half of women ever seek evaluation for their lack of sexual desire.

  1. Arousal

When a woman has a problem with sexual arousal, she may very well desire to have sex; however, she cannot achieve a state of arousal. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, this condition, known officially as female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD), affects 6 to 21 percent of women. Experts note that FSAD can occur from a variety of conditions, including:

  • A lack of the hormone estrogen.
  • A vascular condition.
  • Difficulties perceiving sensation.
  • Interpersonal difficulties.
  1. Lubrication

Sexual desire and arousal contribute to a woman’s ability to become adequately lubricated in anticipation of sexual intercourse. However, it’s possible to desire sexual activity, become aroused, and yet still not produce adequate lubrication. For many women, lubrication decreases, and vaginal dryness increases with age, particularly after menopause. When a woman does not have enough physiologic lubrication produced during sexual activity, it can cause her pain and further her sexual dysfunction.

  1. Orgasm

An orgasm is considered the pinnacle of a sexual encounter for both men and women. However, many women struggle to have an orgasm during sexual encounters. Experts qualify a lack of orgasms as a condition known as “female orgasmic disorder.” 

It is defined as:

  • The lack of orgasm.
  • Delay of orgasm.
  • The infrequency of orgasm.
  • Marked diminishment of orgasm in at least 75 percent of sexual experiences for at least six months.

This condition is highly common, affecting as many as 28 percent of American women—in essence, too many women have poor or non-existent orgasms.

  1. Satisfaction

A woman’s overall satisfaction with a sexual experience is tied both to her own experience of a sexual encounter and her experience with her partner. Satisfaction is a positive quality that can stem from a sexual experience (such as a feeling of wellbeing). Inversely, when women do not feel fully satisfied with their sex life, it may indicate sexual dysfunction. This may be caused by distress, anxiety, or frustration, and, in extreme cases, it can constitute a condition known as sexual aversion disorder.

  1. Pain

Researchers recognize painful sex (dyspareunia) as a common but often neglected health concern. Pain with sex can be correlated with dysfunction in another domain, such as inadequate lubrication, but it can also exist independently. Some women may experience deep pain within their pelvis (due to a history of pelvic adhesions from prior surgery or infection) or superficial pain of the more exterior sexual structures, such as the vulva. Some women may experience involuntary spasms of the vagina when initiating sexual intercourse or during sexual intercourse, known as vaginismus.

Other conditions that can contribute to painful sex include:

  • Skin conditions of the sexual region, such as lichen sclerosus or vulvovaginal candidiasis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Often, when a woman has had a painful sexual experience in the past, it can also make her more reticent to engage in sex moving forward, and she may perceive a heightened state of awareness of pain. This can cause her to avoid sexual encounters, which can exacerbate the pain problem because experiencing long periods without sexual intercourse can make her more likely to experience pain when she does reengage with a partner at a future time.

Who is More Likely to Experience Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction can happen to any woman at any stage of life. However, researchers who studied a specific population of women identified certain characteristics that made them more susceptible to experiencing sexual dysfunction, including the following:

  • Being older than forty years of age
  • Having sexual intercourse less than three times a week
  • Having been married for ten or more years
  • Having three or more children
  • Being unemployed
  • Having a low level of education
  • Being married to a man aged forty years or older

Research on other population samples has found that women who smoke cigarettes or transition to menopause are also more likely to experience sexual dysfunction. Certain conditions, such as urinary incontinence, can make women shy about participating in sexual activity and decrease desire. And certain medications, such as antidepressant medications and chemotherapy agents, can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.

Managing Sexual Dysfunction in Women: Some Choices

Many physicians find themselves at a loss when treating women who suffer from painful sex or other forms of sexual dysfunction. Women diagnosed with a condition of female sexual dysfunction are often offered behavioral health counseling (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or couples therapy) or sexual therapy to help with their needs. These methods can help women find different ways to increase their desire, improve arousal, and find new ways of communicating with sexual partners. Still, they may not address underlying pain conditions that tie into sexual dysfunction.

Testosterone

Medications are also sometimes used to help improve symptoms in women with sexual dysfunction. For example, testosterone has been used to help women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder; however, according to experts at the American Academy of Family Physicians, this is based on limited data

Estrogen

For women who experience pain with sex, an estrogen prescription can help with lubrication, especially in women who have a condition known as vulvovaginal atrophy. 

Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors

Some women have also experienced benefits from a medication class known as a phosphodiesterase inhibitor (a standard medication class used in erectile dysfunction in men). However, this medication class has been far less effective in women for improving sexual function than in men.

Flibanserin and Bremelanotide

In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a medication for women to treat sexual interest/arousal disorder, known as flibanserin. However, this was only approved for premenopausal women, and it comes with a boxed warning about liver damage. Women taking flibanserin can also experience side effects such as sleepiness, dizziness, and tiredness. 

Additionally, bremelanotide was approved by the FDA in 2019 to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. This treatment, however, is only available as an injection.

The Best Anwer in Healing Sexual Dysfunction in Women: The Clear Passage Approach

The Role of Clear Passage’s MAR Physical Therapy in Improving Female Sexual Function

To address and treat sexual dysfunction, this type of therapy harnesses how your organs, nerves, muscles and bones interact. At Clear Passage, they find symptom relief at the primary source. For example, because an orgasm results from a rapid contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, it makes intuitive sense that evaluating the overactivity or underactivity of the pelvic floor muscles could improve a woman’s orgasms. 

Physical therapists who focus on pelvic health often help their patients learn techniques such as kegel exercises to help them gain more strength in the pelvic floor muscles and better control their bowel and bladder. Kegel exercises can help improve incontinence symptoms, indirectly improving a woman’s sexual dysfunction in desire. For instance, she may be more motivated to have intercourse if she is not preoccupied with the possibility of incontinence and potential pain.

Beyond Kegels and pelvic floor strengthening, researchers have also found that a manual physical therapy method can effectively treat sexual dysfunction within the pain domain. In a recent systematic review, researchers found that applied manual physical therapy can relieve pain with intercourse, improving dyspareunia. As a non-invasive and non-surgical intervention, it is safe and significantly benefits patients who suffer from painful sex.

The World Renowned Treatment for Improving Sexual Health and Reducing Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can significantly affect your life, particularly if you desire a sex life but your biological response does not match your desire. Addressing a sexual function problem with medication or counseling may help some women. However, many others may still experience pain with sex owing to problems with adhesions, endometriosis, or otherwise. Women may also feel that the risk of certain medications may outweigh the benefits of improved sexual function, so they may opt not to get formal treatment for their sexual dysfunction instead of persisting with suboptimal sex life.

This doesn’t have to be you. 

The Wurn Technique: Your Path to Sexual Freedom

For many women being held back by sexual problems, particularly those related to pain, a manual physical therapy technique developed by Clear Passage Therapies may help. 

Known as the Wurn technique (named after its developers), this method applies a site-specific, non-invasive manual therapy technique to improve adhesional pain, which improves the mobility of a woman’s soft tissues. Since adhesional pain is so interconnected with sexual function, the simple therapy, applied for a total of 20 hours of treatment, can decrease a woman’s pain with sex and increase her ability to orgasm.

The Wurn technique is a patient-centered method backed by scientific data, with demonstrated effectiveness dating back to a 2004 study. Academics have praised it from several prestigious institutions. 

Several studies have shown that the Wurn Technique can significantly increase a woman’s scores in all six sexual function domains: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Moreover, researchers have found that these results are consistent both within a general sample of women and for women who have endometriosis.

The Wurn Technique Can Improve Other Medical Conditions as well.

Because the Wurn technique improves soft tissue mobility and can reduce adhesional pain, it has also been effective for treating medical conditions beyond sexual dysfunction. 

These include:

  • Female infertility
    • Particularly infertility stemming from an occluded fallopian tube.
  • Abdominopelvic adhesions
  • Endometriosis
  • Menstrual pain
  • Total and partial bowel obstructions. 

Wurn practitioners are adept at comprehensively evaluating a person’s health status and then applying their technique in a way that can synergistically improve health—often, reducing adhesions can improve the function of more than one body system.

What are financing options available for the Clear Passage treatment program?

The pricing structure of a Clear Passage treatment plan begins at $7,500. This does represent a financially significant investment; however, for many women struggling with sexual dysfunction, the benefits conferred by improving sexual health (such as increased satisfaction, better wellbeing, improved relationships) have an intangible financial value. Women who are interested in pursuing Clear Passage therapy have many financing options. Clear Passage clinics offer financing with CareCredit, as just one example. Patients with Medicare and Medicaid cannot receive funding currently, but the Clear Passage team constantly pursues new channels to increase patient access.

Partnering with Clear Passage to Improve Your Sexual Experience and Other Medical Conditions

Having suboptimal sexual health or outright sexual dysfunction can be an isolating and devastating experience for many women. When a woman does have the courage to address her concerns with a medical provider, she may not be met with the expertise required to make an effective change. Or, if she is offered treatment options, she may opt not to pursue them because of hesitance about managing a sexual health condition with a drug, needle, or costly procedure.

The Clear Passage program offers women with sexual dysfunction a clear and compelling alternative in manual physical therapy. Clear Passage practitioners are highly skilled and utilize a scientific, patient-centric, hands-on therapy approach to improve pain symptoms in women and allow them to return to a fulfilling sexual life. The dedicated team of therapists, researchers, advisors, and support staff at Clear Passage apply their excellence daily and continuously deliver superior care to their patients.

To learn more, request a consultation today.

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