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What is genital arousal disorder?

Genital arousal disorder is when you have trouble getting or staying aroused (turned on) and you feel sad or worried about it. 

What causes genital arousal disorder?

Genital arousal involves a lot of things — your hormones, physical health, emotions, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle, and relationships. Any of these things can affect arousal.

Causes of genital arousal disorder include:

  • Anxiety or depression 

  • Problems with your partner

  • Tiredness

  • Sexual abuse or trauma in your past

  • Low sex hormone levels

  • Medical problems like cancer, diabetes, heart problems, multiple sclerosis, or bladder problems

  • Medicines like antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, and chemotherapy

  • Menopause

  • Problems with blood flow or the nerves in your sex organs

  • Problems with your body image

  • Recent pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

  • Stress 

Are there treatments for genital arousal disorder? 

There are many different ways to treat genital arousal disorder. Treatment depends on the cause of the problem. Your doctor or nurse, like the staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center, can help you figure out what treatment may work best for you. They’ll ask you about your health and any problems you may be having. They’ll also ask you questions about your sex life. Try to be as honest as you can about the problems you’re having: Doctors and nurses are experts, and they’ve seen and heard it all. 

Your doctor or nurse may also give you a physical exam and have blood drawn to check for any medical issues.

Treatment options include:

  • Kegel exercises

  • Talking with your partner about your likes and dislikes 

  • Exploring porn (movies, magazines, websites, other entertainment) that brings you sexual pleasure

  • Masturbating 

  • Using sex toys

  • Using lubricants or moisturizers (if you’re using condoms, choose a water-based lubricant)

  • Reducing stress to improve your mood through things like getting more sleep, meditation, and breathing exercises

  • Limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking and using drugs

  • Exercising regularly to improve your mood and give you more energy

  • Physical therapy for your pelvic floor (the muscles around and near your genitals)

  • Talking with a counselor who specializes in sex and relationship problems

  • EROS Therapy Device:  A hand-held device for vulvas with a small plastic cup. It improves blood flow to your genitals to increase vaginal wetness and help you have orgasms.

If you’re in menopause, medicines that may help genital arousal disorder include:

  • Hormones (estrogen or testosterone):  a cream, gel, tablet, or ring that you put in your vagina if lubricants or moisturizers aren’t helping.

  • Ospemifene: a pill you take once a day to help with pain caused by vaginal dryness.

  • Prasterone: a pill that you put in your vagina every night to help with pain caused by vaginal dryness

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