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Sexual dysfunction in men and women

sexual dysfunction

Sexual problems are common in both men and women, regardless of age. The term “sexual dysfunction” refers to a person’s difficulties in sex drive, arousal, orgasm, or any disruptive pain related to sex. These could be something they grew up with or have only acquired later in life.

This article aims to discuss the terms related to sexual dysfunction, common sex-related problems of men and women, and how to prevent them.

Terms related to sexual problems

To better understand sexual dysfunction, it’s important to learn commonly used terms and their meanings.

Desire

The desire to have or perform sexual activities is called libido or sex drive. Desire often involves sex-related thoughts, images, and wishes. There are two types of desire:

  • Spontaneous desire – happens spontaneously and is more common in new relationships.
  • Responsive desire – happens in response to sexual partners, sensory cues, thoughts, or events and is more common in long-term relationships.

Arousal

This term refers to the sense of sexual excitement or pleasure wherein there’s an increase in the blood flow to the genitals, lubrication, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

Orgasm

This is the event wherein sexual pleasure peaks and sexual tension gets released. Orgasms are often accompanied by muscle contraction in the genital area. Although often viewed as proof of sexual satisfaction, it’s possible to feel sexual pleasure without experiencing an orgasm.

Pain

Painful sex is a common sexual problem. Although it can be caused by various things, it always has to do with other sexual problems.

Sexual dysfunction in males

In the past, it was almost rare for men to admit they’re experiencing sexual problems. Now that people are more open and new treatments have become available, it’s possible for men to address their difficulties and remain sexually active for many years to come. Here are some of the most common sexual problems men experience.

Erectile dysfunction

ED is the inability to acquire or maintain an erection needed for sexual intercourse. This can be caused by several things, including:

  • Limited blood flow to the penis
  • Neurological conditions 
  • Medications
  • Psychological problems

Who is most likely to experience ED?

Although erectile dysfunction can happen to any male individual, those with a higher risk include:

  • Smokers
  • Diabetics
  • Those with high blood pressure
  • Obese or overweight individuals
  • Older adults
  • Stroke patients
  • Those who experienced penile trauma, spinal cord injury, or prostate surgery
  • Those taking opioids for chronic pain
  • People with depression and anxiety disorders

Ejaculation disorders

Ejaculation is the process of ejecting semen from the body. There are two types of ejaculation problems:

  • Premature ejaculation – This type is when a man ejaculates too early, causing distress to both the man and his partner. Premature ejaculation can cause the penis to go limp or flaccid, making it very difficult to perform sexual intercourse.
  • Delayed or inhibited ejaculation – With this type, a man’s penis also goes limp or flaccid but ejaculation or climax doesn’t happen. 

Penile curvature

The abnormal curvature of a penis when erect is known as Peyronie’s disease. The most common cause of this problem is penile trauma that occurred during sexual intercourse. When the penis is injured, it develops a scar that may cause the head to bend during erection. Abnormal curvatures can be painful and result in poor erections or inability to perform sexual intercourse.

Sexual dysfunction in females

Sexual problems in women can take many forms and can be caused by several things. Some of the most common problems women have when it comes to sex include:

  • Anorgasmia – Orgasmic disorder is the inability of women to experience orgasms
  • Dyspareunia – Painful sex
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder – Lack of sexual desire or sex drive
  • Sexual arousal disorder – Difficulty getting aroused

Risk factors for sexual problems in women

Women who went through or are going through the following risk factors are more likely to experience sexual problems:

  • Personal well-being – This includes diet and exercise habits, emotions, and your body image. Feeling your best both physically and emotionally is important to sexual interest.
  • Fatigue and stress – Feeling exhausted and stressed can result in disinterest in sex. Fatigue and stress can be caused by a medical condition, sleep problems, and lack of proper rest.
  • Sociocultural factors – Lack of privacy at home could affect sexual interest and activity. Beliefs, be they personal, religious, or cultural, could also contribute to sexual dysfunction.
  • Relationship issues – Your overall relationship with your partner can have a huge effect on your sexual relationship. Some issues in relationships include:
    • Stress and conflict
    • Limited communication
    • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Health or sexual problems of partners – If your partner has health conditions or sexual dysfunctions that can hinder sexual activities, your response will be affected too.
  • Gynecological factors – In women, there are events that may or may not affect sexual interest, such as:
    • Childbirth
    • Menopause
    • Hysterectomy
    • Vaginal or pelvic pain, surgery, infection, or trauma
    • Bladder issues
    • Chronic medical problems
    • Psychiatric and emotional problems
    • Medications
    • Surgery

These are just a few factors that may cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction in women. If you’re experiencing issues or problems that aren’t included here, don’t think that it isn’t valid. Don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider so you may get the support you need.

Preventing sexual dysfunction in men and women

There’s no one big way to prevent sexual problems but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing them.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Minimize alcohol intake
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Talk with your partner
  • Seek counseling if you’re having trouble communicating with your partner
  • Consult your doctor for any sexual issues that require medical procedures

Talk to your healthcare provider

Many men and women experience sexual issues. They may be something that can improve on their own or something that may become a frequent problem. If you’re having sexual problems that bother you or your partner, it’s time to get help.

Sexual dysfunction can be quite frustrating and challenging but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. With the right diagnosis and treatment, you and your partner would be able to enjoy healthy sex with pleasure.

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