The Most Common Sexual Challenges For Women, And How To Overcome Them
While mainstream media portrays sex as easy, effortless, and orgasmic, sex is not like that for everyone. In fact, many people struggle to enjoy sex for all sorts of reasons. For women in particular, there are a handful of sexual challenges that are most common.
While these challenges can feel isolating or even shameful, many women actually struggle with the same issues, and these challenges can typically be resolved. This article will explain the three most common sexual issues for women and how to overcome them.
What are the most common sexual challenges for women?
Here are the three most common sexual challenges for women:
Low desire, or in other words, a decreased desire or interest in sex, is very common among women. While there are varying statistics as to how many women have low desire, a study published in 2008 with a nationally representative sample of cis women in the US (1,944 women, to be exact) found that 26.7% of premenopausal women had low desire, along with 52.4% of menopausal women.
It’s normal for people to experience low desire for a range of different reasons, and for most people, it’s natural for your libido to change throughout your life. If you’re struggling with low libido, or if it’s causing stress in your relationship, we have insights on how to handle this situation below.
Struggling to orgasm, or not being able to orgasm at all, is extremely common, with nearly one in four women facing this issue. A paper published in The Journal Of Sexual Medicine in 2004 reported that anorgasmia is the second most reported sexual health problem for women, with 24% of women having anorgasmia. Similarly, a study published in 2011 that sampled 1,200 women in Iran found that 26.3% of women had anorgasmia.
While anorgasmia is widely reported among women, it can be distressing and even isolating. Follow along to see what to do if you’re struggling to orgasm.
If you’ve struggled with pain during sex or penetration, you are most definitely not alone. While there is mixed information out there as to exactly how many women experience painful sex, The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists reports that 75% of cis women have pain during intercourse at some point in their life (insert wide-eyed, shocked emoji).
Other sources, however, report lower numbers for women with dyspareunia, which is a “recurrent or persistent pain with sexual activity that causes marked distress or interpersonal conflict,” according to a paper published in 2014 in The Journal of American Family Physician. This paper reports that dyspareunia affects approximately 10% to 20% of women in the US.
While there are varying statistics as to exactly how many women experience pain with sex or intercourse, this is undoubtedly an issue many women struggle with.
What to do if you face one of the most common sexual challenges?
Here are the solutions and advice professionals recommended to help women with facing sexual challenges:
Work with a professional
Low desire, anorgasmia, or painful sex are all things that a sex therapist can help you with. Seeing a medical provider, especially if you are experiencing unwanted pain, is important so you can be tested for an infection or STI. While reaching out to a professional can be intimidating, having the support you need for the sexual challenge you’re facing is crucial, and just talking to someone can be a major help.
Experiment with vibrators
Did you know there was actually a study published in 2023 about whether or not doctors should prescribe vibrators? We have an entire blog post that breaks it down and looks at the benefits of using a vibrator, which turns out to be a lot!
Dr. Dubinskaya, the author of the study, shared in an interview with Newsweek that “vibrators decrease the time to achieve orgasm, facilitate multiple orgasms and improve sex-related distress." If you’re struggling to have an orgasm, especially during partnered sex, a vibrator might help, as many people need extra clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm.
In fact, for some people, it’s not possible to have an orgasm without a vibrator. While trouble orgasming can bring on feelings of shame and frustration, it’s important to know that it’s natural to need a vibrator to orgasm, and it’s also natural not to orgasm at all.
The benefits of vibrators don’t just stop there, though. In the interview, Dr. Dubinskaya explains that “we know, from female sexual medicine, positive sexual experiences encourage women to engage in sexual encounters in the future. It can be derived that vibrators may improve a woman's sexual desire by making sexual pleasure easily achievable in solo and/or in a partnered sexual relationship."
If you’re experiencing low desire, one place to start is by asking yourself if you’re really enjoying the sex you’re having. If not, think about what might make it better. For lots of people, a vibrator makes a world of difference, and can increase your libido in the long-run.
Check out our other resources
If you’re struggling with any one of these issues, whether it be low desire, trouble orgasming, or painful sex, Zumio has resources to support you. We have a detailed article about what causes painful sex and how to make sex less painful. Even more, we have a step-by-step, visual guide on how to use a Zumio for clitoral stimulation. If you’re struggling to orgasm, experiencing pain with penetration, or aren’t enjoying partnered sex, this guide can help you learn specific techniques for clitoral stimulation.
Talk with your partner
No matter what issues you’re struggling with, holding it in can build shame and isolation, only making the issue more challenging. If you’re in a long-term relationship or you’re dating new people, tell your partner(s) about what you’re struggling with. This can help you find solutions or alternatives together, alleviate shame, and prevent these sexual challenges from creating conflict in your relationship.
To bring this up, ask your partner if you can have a conversation about sex. Use “I” statements to tell them what you’re feeling. For example, “I’m nervous to share this, but I’ve been struggling to orgasm. It makes me feel [blank] and it would be helpful if you [blank].”
Take the pressure offWith any one of these sexual challenges, it’s easy to feel like you need to “fix” yourself, whether that’s by wanting sex more often, having an orgasm, or enjoying penetrative sex. Putting pressure on yourself can actually make all of these issues even harder. If you can, take the pressure off yourself. Remember that sex doesn’t need to look one way, and there are plenty of other ways to connect with your partner and enjoy sex.
Own Your Orgasm
Zumio’s clitoral stimulator has patented SpiroTip™ rotation technology that lets you pinpoint your exact pleasure spots for the most satisfying orgasm imaginable.
Experience it for yourself!