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Failure of a female to respond to sexual stimulus; aversion on the part of a woman to sexual intercourse; failure of a female to achieve an orgasm (anorgasmia) during sexual intercourse. Also known as Inhibited sexual desire (ISD).
Persons most commonly affected: Women of all ages.
Organ or part of body involved: Female Sexual System
Symptoms and indications: Frigidity has three distinct symptoms: does not enjoy sexual response (with a specific partner, or generally), can achieve sexual arousal only with difficulty (hyposexuality) and
cannot achieve orgasm (anorgasmia)
Causes and risk factors: ISD is a very common sexual disorder. The most common cause of ISD seems to be relationship problems wherein one partner does not feel emotionally intimate or close to their mate. Communication problems, lack of affection that is not associated with continuing into sexual intercourse, power struggles and conflicts, and a lack of time alone together are common factors. ISD may also be associated with a very restrictive upbringing concerning sex, negative attitudes toward sex, or negative or traumatic sexual experiences (such as rape, incest, or sexual abuse). Physical illnesses and some medications may also contribute to ISD, particularly when they produce fatigue, pain, or general feelings of malaise. Hormone deficiencies may occasionally be implicated. Psychological conditions such as depression and excessive stress may inhibit sexual interest. Disturbed dietary mineral intakes may undermine sexual desire. Commonly overlooked factors include insomnia or inadequate amounts of sleep, resulting in fatigue. ISD may also be associated with other sexual dysfunctions, and sometimes may be caused by them. For example, the woman who is unable to have orgasm or has pain with intercourse, or the man who has erection problems (impotence) or retarded ejaculation, may lose interest in sex because it is commonly associated with failure or is not very pleasurable. As women age beyond their child-bearing years, their interest in sex may begin to decline. This may lead to frigidity. The frigidity may cause problems in a relationship where the male partner continues to seek an active sexual experience with his partner. Individuals who were victims of childhood sexual abuse or rape, and persons whose marriages are lacking in emotional intimacy are particularly at risk of ISD.
Prevention: One major way of preventing ISD is to reserve time for nonsexual intimacy with one's partner. Couples, who reserve weekly talk time and time for a weekly date alone without the kids, will maintain a closer relationship and are more likely to feel sexual interest. Couples should also detach sex and affection, so that neither one is afraid to be affectionate on a daily basis, fearing that it will be interpreted as an invitation to proceed to intercourse.
Reading books or taking courses in couple communication, or reading books about massage may also encourage feelings of closeness. For some individuals, reading novels or viewing movies with romantic or sexual content may also serve to encourage sexual desire.
For too many couples, sex gets what is left over late at night. Regularly reserving "prime time," before exhaustion sets in, for both talking and sexual intimacy may encourage closeness and sexual desire.