, 5th edn.. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 2013

Avis NE, Zhao X, Johannes CB, Ory M, Brockwell S, Greendale GA Correlates of sexual function among multi-ethnic middle-aged women: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Menopause. 2018; 25:(11)1244-1255

Basson R The female sexual response: a different model. J Sex Marital Ther. 2000; 26:(1)51-65

Basson R, Wierman ME, van Lankveld J, Brotto L Summary of the recommendations on sexual dysfunctions in women. J Sex Med. 2010; 7:(1 Pt 2)314-326

Brotto LA, Basson R, Smith KB, Driscoll M, Sadownik L Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy for women with provoked vestibulodynia. Mindfulness. 2015; 6:417-432

Caruco S, Malandrino C Menopause and female sexuality. In: Kirana PS, Tripoldi F, Reisman Y, Porst H Amsterdam: Medix; 2013

Dyer K, das Nair R Why don't healthcare professionals talk about sex? A systematic review of recent qualitative studies conducted in the United kingdom. J Sex Med. 2013; 10:(11)2658-2670

Faubion SS, Rullo JE Sexual Dysfunction in Women: A Practical Approach. Am Fam Physician. 2015; 92:(4)281-288

FitzGerald MP, Kotarinos R Rehabilitation of the short pelvic floor. I: Background and patient evaluation. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2003; 14:(4)261-268

Flint R, Davis C In: Rantal A Switzerland: Springer Nature; 2021

Glazer HI, Jantos M, Hartmann EH, Swencionis C Electromyographic comparisons of the pelvic floor in women with dysesthetic vulvodynia and asymptomatic women. J Reprod Med. 1998; 43:(11)959-962

Goldstein I Female sexual arousal disorder: new insights. Int J Impot Res. 2000; 12:S152-S157

Kirana E Sexual desire disorders in women. In: Reisman Y, Porst H Amsterdam: Medix; 2013

Lev-Sagie A, Nyirjesy P Noninfectious vaginitis. In: Goldstein A, Pukhall C, Goldstein I Chichester: Wiley Blackwell; 2000

Mac Bride MB, Rhodes DJ, Shuster LT Vulvovaginal atrophy. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010; 85:(1)87-94

Nappi RE, Albani F, Valentino V, Polatti F, Chiovato L, Genazzani AR Invecchiamento e sessualità nelle donne [Aging and sexuality in women]. Minerva Ginecol. 2007; 59:(3)287-298

Nappi RE, Lachowsky M Menopause and sexuality: prevalence of symptoms and impact on quality of life. Maturitas. 2009; 63:(2)138-141

Parish SJ, Nappi RE, Krychman ML Impact of vulvovaginal health on postmenopausal women: a review of surveys on symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy. Int J Womens Health. 2013; 5:437-447

Peters KM, Carrico DJ, Kalinowski SE, Ibrahim IA, Diokno AC Prevalence of pelvic floor dysfunction in patients with interstitial cystitis. Urology. 2007; 70:(1)16-18

Petersen C Sexual pain disorders. In: Reisman Y, Porst H Amsterdam: Medix; 2013

Portman DJ, Gass ML Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: new terminology for vulvovaginal atrophy from the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health and The North American Menopause Society. Climacteric. 2014; 17:(5)557-563

Rantell A Introducing the subject to women. In: Rantell A Switzerland: Springer Nature; 2021

Reissing ED, Brown C, Lord MJ, Binik YM, Khalifé S Pelvic floor muscle functioning in women with vulvar vestibulitis syndrome. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2005; 26:(2)107-113

Rosenbaum TY Musculoskeletal pain and sexual function in women. J Sex Med. 2010; 7:(2 Pt 1)645-653

Smith KM, Gillmer MD Amielle vaginal trainers-a patient evaluation. J Obstet Gynaecol. 1998; 18:(2)146-147

Stein ANew York: McGraw-Hill; 2009

Stuart E Over the counter and home remedies. In: Rantell A Switzerland: Springer Nature; 2021

Suckling J, Lethaby A, Kennedy R Local oestrogen for vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006; (4)

Management of symptomatic vulvovaginal atrophy: 2013 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2013; 20:(9)888-904

Temple-Smith MJ, Mulvey G, Keogh L Attitudes to taking a sexual history in general practice in Victoria, Australia. Sex Transm Infect. 1999; 75:(1)41-44

van der Velde J, Everaerd W The relationship between involuntary pelvic floor muscle activity, muscle awareness and experienced threat in women with and without vaginismus. Behav Res Ther. 2001; 39:(4)395-408

Female sexual dysfunction: what the practice nurse needs to know

02 August 2022
Volume 33 · Issue 8


For many women, practice nurses are the first point of contact for sexual or reproductive health concerns. Angela Gregory provides are overview of the basics of female sexual dysfunction

The World Health Organization regards ‘sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing as essential if people are to have responsible, safe and satisfying sexual lives and that sexual health requires a positive approach to human sexuality’. General practice nurses are ideally placed to educate and address sexual concerns. Practice nurses are not expected to be experts in this field or to carry out specialist assessment, examination and treatment, but there are opportunities to initiate discussion, identify potential sexual issues, provide simple advice and treatment, signpost to online resources and refer to medical colleagues or specialist services. Two common sexual complaints – sexual desire/interest concerns and sexual/genital pain – are discussed with an emphasis on the importance of recognising and treating the silent symptoms of the menopause and pelvic floor dysfunction due to their significant impact on female sexual function.

Practices nurses are an important part of a multidisciplinary team and are involved in most aspects of patient care including health screening, sexual health screening, helping patients manage long term conditions, contraception and women's health, including cervical cytology and menopause management. Therefore, for many women, they are the first potential point of contact regarding sexual and reproductive concerns. Barriers identified by healthcare professionals for not discussing sexual issues are related to a ‘lack of time, personal discomfort, lack of training and worry it will cause offence’ (Dyer and das Nair, 2013). For those who assert they are embarrassed or lack experience, it has been shown that these barriers are of less concern in those who perform such consultations daily or weekly compared to those who do so infrequently (Temple-Smith et al, 1999). In the UK, availability of NHS provision for specialist menopause centres, psychosexual input and specialist pelvic physiotherapists varies widely, so practice nurses should be encouraged and supported to help their patients address any sexual health concerns.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Practice Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for general practice nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month