Sexual arousal disorder is a condition where the person doesn’t have sexual fantasies or desire for sexual activity, even when triggers that would normally cause arousal, are present. This is the general understanding of the disorder when applied to either or both sexes.

However female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) is a condition specific to women, which is colloquially referred to as Frigidity. Here the woman feels an inability to become aroused by things that would otherwise be considered arousing. She is unable to maintain that state of arousal characterized by lubrication and swelling till the completion of the sexual act. This condition goes beyond the mere disinterest in sex and is seen to persist over a significant period of time.

Sexual Arousal Disorder

A woman can be said to have sexual arousal disorder:

  • If she recurrently and persistently is unable to become aroused or maintain arousal until the completion of sexual activity. The arousal is generally understood as a response of sexual excitement and physical symptoms such as vaginal lubrication and swelling of the genetalia in response to the arousal.
  • If this lack of sexual arousal response is causing interpersonal difficulty and marked distress.
  • If the condition is not due to any other sexual disorder, or due to any illegal drugs, prescription medication or medical condition which suppresses normal sexual feeling and activity, then it can be termed as FSAD.
  • There could be some difficulty in making a definitive diagnosis of this condition because women typically exhibit a wide variation in the time they take to become aroused, in exactly what constitutes arousal or sexual excitement for them. There is also an additional component of the partner’s ability to arouse a woman sufficiently that could impact the diagnosis of the disorder.

There are various factors that could cause or contribute to sexual arousal disorder

Experiences of early life – The experiences of a woman during her childhood and adolescence could well impact her attitude to sex and hence her ability to become aroused. In particular sexual dysfunction is known to be impacted by sexual abuse during childhood.

Relationship factors – The quality of a relationship and interpersonal factors can be at the bottom of symptoms of sexual arousal disorder, though not necessarily. There could be arousal problems even when a woman is very happy in her relationship, and conversely there could be no problem with sexual arousal even when she is dissatisfied with her relationship.

So this could be a contributing factor rather than the only one.

Medical and other conditions –Women with neurological problems, or circulatory problems could have FSAD. Diabetic women may find that their disease negatively impacts arousal. Certain brain disorders that cause differences in the way that the amygdale is activated are also associated with this lack of arousal.

Other causes for sexual arousal disorder – Individual factors like stress, fatigue and lack of energy can impact ability to become aroused. Issues such as gender identity, body image problems, extreme self consciousness, low self esteem and confidence, certain religious beliefs and emotional distress can also cause problems relating to FSAD.