Exercise and female sexual dysfunction
Written by: Liz
Published on: August 30, 2021


Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) affects almost 50% of the female population in Australia. It is defined by the various ways in which an individual cannot participate in a sexual relationship that she desires. FSD is a complex and multi-faceted disorder due to a woman’s perception of sex, comprising of anatomical, psychological, physiological and social-interpersonal components.

There are multiple classifications of FSD: sexual desire disorder, sexual aversion disorder, sexual arousal disorder, sexual pain disorders and female orgasmic disorders.

There are a variety of physical and mental factors that can contribute to the onset of FSD. (1)

Physical factors:

  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Trauma
  • Infections, such as a urinary tract infection
  • Chronic conditions (e.g. Endometriosis, Vulvodynia, pelvic pain)
  • High-tone pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Increasing age
  • Pregnancy
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer survivors

Mental factors:

  • Depression and use of antidepressants
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt and/or shame
  • Past sexual trauma or abuse
  • Poor interpersonal relationship with partner
  • Body image issues

Regular exercise can improve a person’s sex life, according to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Researchers investigated the link between exercise and sexual dysfunction in many men and women of different ages who exercised regularly. Sexual problems such as low libido, orgasm dissatisfaction, and difficulty becoming aroused are common among adults and can decrease the quality of life in both women and men.

The study recruited cyclists, runners and swimmers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, including 3906 men and 2264 women.

The results suggest that higher levels of weekly cardiovascular exercise were protective against sexual dysfunction in both women and men. A professional doctor who is part of the study says that they found an association between higher levels of exercise and lower levels of female sexual dysfunction, orgasm dissatisfaction and trouble becoming aroused. (2)

Exercise is also important for mental health, mood and wellbeing, with some studies also showing exercise having a protective effect on brain function and memory.


To boost your sexual health, find ways to be comfortable with your sexuality, improve your self-esteem and accept your body. Try practising these healthy lifestyle habits:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol: Drinking too much can reduce sexual responsiveness.
  • Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking restricts blood flow throughout your body. Less blood reaches your sexual organs, which means you could experience decreased sexual arousal and orgasmic response.
  • Be physically active: Regular aerobic exercise increases your stamina, improves your body image and elevates your mood. 
  • Make time for leisure and relaxation: Learn ways to decrease stress and allow yourself to relax amid the tensions of your daily life. Being relaxed can enhance your ability to focus on your sexual experiences and may help you attain more satisfying arousal and orgasm.

(1) https://exerciseright.com.au/exercise-and-female-sexual-dysfunction/

(2) https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/news/regular-physical-activity-good-for-your-sex-life


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