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November 2014


By Carol Boulware, Ph.D.

A study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 43% of women have experienced sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction.  In another study, performed in 2010, 65% of the women surveyed said they had a problem or some type of concern about their sexual lives.  These studies bring long-overdue attention to the reality that many women experience serious sexual, or sex-related, problems at some time in their lives. 

Some sexual problems occur in a woman's life years after a sexual trauma, assault or abuse that happened during their childhood.  Other causes of sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction can stem from a troubled relationship, low self-esteem, health problems, depression, or a side effect of certain medications.  In addition, long-term anxiety, like stress involving work, money, unresolved conflicts, or hormonal imbalance, such as the loss of estrogen during menopause, can negatively affect a woman's sex life.

The most common sex-related concerns reported by women are:

  • lack of desire
  • slow arousal
  • difficulty achieving orgasm
  • fear of sex
  • lack of overall sexual satisfaction 

Lack of sexual desire, also called hypoactive sexual desire or inhibited sexual desire, brings most woman and couples to sex therapy.  A woman may be inhibited or fearful about sex when she feels insecure, shameful, has a negative body image, or experienced a sexual violence, abuse or other trauma in the recent or distant past.

The ability to become sufficiently aroused to achieve orgasm involves our physical, emotional and mental participation.  Emotional health and the quality of a couple's relationship play an important role in a woman's sexual satisfaction. 

Arousal can elude women who, instead of focusing on their pleasure in the moment, are mentally preoccupied by an event that happened earlier that day, a situation that need resolving tomorrow, etc.  In other instances, a woman may be hesitant or embarrassed to ask her partner for what arouses her.  In that case, learning skills to improve communication during sex can be helpful.

These types of unresolved sexual problems can have a major impact on a woman's confidence, her intimate relationships and overall satisfaction with her life. Some women, and couples, may spend months or years trying to resolve their sexual issues themselves, or have simply avoided the problem for a long time.  The benefits of early diagnosis and treatment are significant.  That is why it is so important to bring the help of a certified sex therapist or relationship counselor to the equation. 

Solutions are available for increasing sexual interest, response and satisfaction.  Professional sex therapy and relationship counseling can be a major factor in improving a woman's sexual health and confidence by treating the underlying cause, or causes, of her sexual issues.

Dr. Boulware, a Certified Sex Therapist and Licensed Psychotherapist, has more than 30 years of therapy and relationship counseling experience, successfully treating couples dealing with sexual dysfunctions, and individuals with sexual anxiety, loss of desire and trauma related to sexual assault, rape, molestation, or abuse as adults or children.  She incorporates a variety of modern, proven therapeutic approaches and healing techniques that help relieve the effects of long-term sexual problems.


Dr. Carol Boulware is Certified Sex Therapist, Psychotherapist, Certified EMDR Therapist,  and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner practicing in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach.
She is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network.

Contact Dr. Boulware at (310) 365-8717 or
Her website is

Copyright 2014 by Linda S. Barnes, Ph.D.


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