It’s perfectly normal for women to experience changes in their sex drive throughout their life. But consistently being unable to respond to sexual stimulation and having little to no interest in sex at all, could signal that a woman has female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD).

FSAD is a type of sexual dysfunction that can occur at any time in a woman’s life during any sexual situation. Women with female sexual dysfunction will have recurring problems with desire, sexual response, orgasm, and even pain.

The physical and psychological factors that influence sexual and genital arousal are many. A combination of emotions, physiology, experiences, and beliefs all contribute to an individual’s sexual response.

Many people might avoid talking to their primary care physician about such symptoms, but not having a healthy sex life can affect your relationships, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help you achieve regularly satisfying sexual events.

Symptoms of Female Sexual Arousal Disorder

In 2017, a study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that less than 50% of sexually active adults have reported they were satisfied with their sex life, and nearly a third of American women have experienced FSAD at least once in their life.

Previously FSAD was considered two separate disorders: hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) and female sexual arousal disorder. And at one time researchers believed that FSAD was caused by a lack of vaginal lubrication and swelling of the female genitals. But many now agree that lower levels of lubrication do not always indicate a low level of sexual arousal.

Here are some symptoms that might indicate you have FSAD:

Orgasmic Disorder

Having difficulty achieving orgasm after significant sexual arousal is a common symptom of FSAD. The average woman can generally achieve orgasm after 20 minutes of sustained sexual arousal, so if it takes more than an hour there may be a potential problem.

Low Sexual Desire

Low sexual desire is the most obvious symptom of FSAD.  Women should watch for when there are changes in their levels of sexual desire, especially if there is a sudden decrease in their sex drive.

Difficulty with Arousal

Having a difficult time becoming intimate or achieving genital arousal is another sign of FSAD. Women might have normal levels of sexual desire but find it hard to become physically aroused or maintaining their arousal.

Pain Associated with Sex

It’s never normal to experience pain in the abdominal or pelvic region. Experiencing this could indicate FSAD or another disorder. If you’re experiencing such symptoms please consult your primary care physician or your gynecologist.

Treating Female Sexual Arousal Disorder

There are many different possible causes for FSAD as there are many forms of treatment. It’s important to know your body’s normal sexual response so you can clearly communicate your concerns with your doctor.

If you do have concerns, most women find that the best treatment addresses both physical and psychological issues.

Intimate Communication

Taking time to talk to your partner about your likes and dislikes, and truly listen to your partner, can open a line of intimacy that can significantly improve your level of sexual satisfaction.


A relationship/sex counselor can give you instruction for improving your body’s sexual response and increasing the level of intimacy with your partner. They may also prescribe certain reading material and practices to help your sex life.

Practice Good Health

This is a prescription that pertains to any health problem: Diet and Exercise. Try not to drink too much alcohol because it can hinder your sexual responsiveness. Try to decrease stress and remain physically active. Exercise will elevate your mood and increase stamina.

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy is administered through the use of a vaginal ring, tablet, or cream. Estrogen has been known to make the vagina more elastic as well as increases blood flow to the vagina.

There are some risks to hormone therapy so be sure to talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible drawbacks.

Flibanserin (Addyi)

Also known as the “little pink pill” and developed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, flibanserin is a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 for the treatment of low sexual desire in premenopausal women.

Taken daily for women with low sexual desire, side effects may include sleepiness, low blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness (especially if taken with alcohol). If there is no improvement in sexual activity after taking flibanserin for eight weeks, experts recommend you stop taking it.

Learn More About Sexual Desire Clinical Trials in Boston

Has your sexual desire decreased recently? Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial? We have a wide variety of clinical trials available if you qualify and meet specific criteria.

Learn more here