Psychiatrist Blog

What is Sexual Dysfunction?

man and woman kissing

Sexual dysfunction is an issue that can happen in both men and women, and is a disruption of any phase of the sexual response cycle. This cycle typically includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Although sexual dysfunction is seldom talked about due to stigma and fear of embarrassment, it is extremely common and occurs due to hormonal issues, cardiovascular issues, medications, past trauma, and numerous other causes.

The types of sexual dysfunction include:

– Desire disorders: This is a lack of desire or interest in sex.

– Arousal disorders: This is an inability to become physically aroused even with a sexual stimulus.

– Orgasm disorders: This is the delay or total absence of orgasm.

– Pain disorders: This is pain during intercourse.

As previously introduced, there are many causes of sexual dysfunction including physical causes such as poor cardiovascular health. Conditions such as diabetes, atherosclerotic vascular disease, and heart failure can hinder the increased demand on the cardiovascular system that sexual organs require during intercourse, leading to sexual dysfunction. Endocrine issues that affect hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in women (menopause), or testosterone (low T) in men can also hinder sexual function. Drugs and alcohol, even if used only recreationally, can impact sexual functioning as well. Even prescription medications such as blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and others can affect specific aspects of the sexual response cycle. Lastly, psychological causes of sexual dysfunction are common as well. Generalized anxiety can easily turn into performance anxiety. The vegetative symptoms of depression can affect a person’s desire to engage in sexual activity. Triggering aspects of intercourse can lead to dysfunction in a person who has experienced past trauma, sexual or otherwise. There are numerous causes of sexual dysfunction, but the key point to remember is that it’s very common, and the first step to treating it is speaking up about it. There are solutions that can help manage sexual dysfunction that include therapy, medications, and physical rehabilitation programs.

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