What is Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction is a health problem faced by many people but not often talked about. Both men and women experience sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. A sexual dysfunction is difficulty experienced at any of the four stages (excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution) of the sexual response cycle. The difficulty often hinders sexual fulfillment or satisfaction.
Symptoms of Sexual Dysfunction
In men, sexual dysfunction can be: difficulty achieving/keeping an erection suitable for intercourse, premature ejaculation, delayed/inhibited ejaculation despite sufficient sexual stimulation or zero/little interest in sexual activity. In women, sexual dysfunction is presented as: zero/little interest in sexual activity, persistent difficulty with achieving orgasm, pain from vaginal contact, or difficulty getting aroused and/or maintaining arousal.
Sexual problems are very common and they can happen anytime in a person’s life. Sometimes, these problems are temporal and they are gone before they become bothersome. At other times, a sexual dysfunction may become persistent, causing significant distress.
Sexual health is an integral aspect of your wellbeing. If you have a sexual dysfunction, and you or your partner is bothered about it, you should definitely get help. There isn’t anything embarrassing or strange about sexual dysfunction. Just like stomach ulcers and pneumonia, they just mean you need a doctor’s help.
Dealing with a sexual dysfunction can be very stressful. If not properly managed, a sexual dysfunction can significantly affect your quality of life. Seeking medical advice and help is important.
What Causes Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction in men and women can be caused either by physical or psychological factors, or a combination of both. Psychological factors that may cause sexual dysfunction include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Relationship problems
- Anxiety about sexual performance or fear of sexual intercourse
- Past experience of sexual assault or abuse
- Body image concerns
- Low self esteem
Most cases of sexual dysfunction are caused by a physical or medical problem. There are a number of medical problems that are associated with sexual dysfunction. The common ones are:
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Enlarged prostate or prostate cancer
- Peyronie’s disease (This affects men)
- Hormonal changes. In women, these changes often occur after childbirth, during breastfeeding and at menopause. In men, low levels of testosterone may occur as a result of some factors
Other physical causes of sexual dysfunction include tobacco use, alcohol abuse and certain medications. Although sexual dysfunction can occur at any age, it is most common among people older than 40. Reduced interest in sexual activity and some other symptoms of sexual dysfunction are a natural aspect of aging. Levels of testosterone gradually decrease in men as they get older. Usually beginning from 30 years.
Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction
In older people, a sexual dysfunction could, besides aging, be as a result of a physical or psychological problem. When the underlying cause is treated, there may be some improvement. Sexual dysfunction is often a great source of concern for young people. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of sexual dysfunction, and the symptoms are persistent, you should speak with your healthcare provider.
How a sexual dysfunction is treated would depend on the cause of the dysfunction. Most cases of sexual dysfunction are corrected once the underlying cause has been treated. A sexual dysfunction caused by psychological factors is mostly treated with therapy or a combination of therapy and medications. There are different methods of therapy that have been found to be effective in treating a sexual dysfunction.
In psychotherapy, the therapist helps a person suffering from a sexual dysfunction which may be as a result of sexual assault that occurred in the past, trauma, anxiety, poor body image, feelings of guilt or fear. The therapist may employ different approaches to help the person deal with the situation.
Couples therapy is also called marriage therapy or couples’ counseling. Its aim is to improve the quality of a couple’s relationship. Conflicts are normal in relationships. They may happen as a result of work-related stress, financial problems and illness. Most couples have their share of conflicts from time to time, but how these conflicts are handled is all that matters.
At therapy, a couple is able to learn how to solve conflicts the right way. With the help of the therapist, they are able to understand each other better and improve their communication. Couples therapy is most successful when partners are equally committed to making their relationship better.
Sex therapy is a type of treatment used to help couples or a person experiencing a sexual dysfunction resulting from medical factors, psychological factors, or a combination of both factors. A sex therapist helps a couple to identify why they may be experiencing difficulties and come up with solutions to the problem.
Couples are usually asked to perform some exercises at home. The end goal of the exercises is to help couples achieve sexual fulfillment and satisfaction. Just like couples therapy, sex therapy is most successful when the couple are equally committed to the process.
The extent at which treatment of a sexual dysfunction is successful depends on whether the underlying cause can be reversed or treated. If a sexual dysfunction is caused by certain medications, a change of medication may be all that is needed to treat the dysfunction.
Men who are unable to achieve or maintain an erection may benefit from penile implants and penis pumps. Oral medications are also effective in treating erectile dysfunction in men. If the underlying cause of a sexual dysfunction is a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, symptoms of sexual dysfunction may improve as the underlying condition is properly managed.
Home Remedies for Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction in men and women is often worsened by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Just by making some simple changes, you can improve your condition. These are some of the steps you should take:
Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Lose excess weight if you are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity are risk factors for a number of serious diseases which may in turn lead to sexual dysfunction. Being overweight or obese can cause low body image and low self esteem in men and women. These are known factors responsible for sexual dysfunction. In men, being overweight can cause erectile dysfunction. It may also worsen it.
Do not Smoke
If you smoke, you should quit. Just like obesity, smoking is one of the causes of erectile dysfunction in men. It can also make symptoms of erectile dysfunction worse. It is also important that you stay away from places where cigarettes are being smoked. Secondhand smoking has the same effect on the body as direct smoking.
Engaging in regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. If your sexual dysfunction is caused by a medical condition, exercise would help to improve the underlying condition. Exercise is also very effective in helping you to manage stress and anxiety.
If you are experiencing a sexual dysfunction, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor. Remember that sexual dysfunction is treatable most of the time. You should not be in anyway reluctant to share your concerns with your partner. Your partner’s involvement in the treatment process plays an important role in determining how successful your treatment would be.