Overview and Facts about Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction can affect both men and women. While older adults may be more likely to suffer from some types of sexual dysfunction, it can occur at any age. Many physical and psychological conditions can cause symptoms of sexual dysfunction, and because there is such a wide range of causes, treatment is also varied.
Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Dysfunction
Symptoms of sexual dysfunction in men may include:
- Difficulty achieving an erection
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Delayed ejaculation
- Low libido or loss of interest in sex
Sexual dysfunction can also trigger a variety of psychological symptoms. Patients struggling with sexual dysfunction may feel anxious about their sexual performance or may worry about the impact their symptoms have on their relationship with their partner.
Sexual trauma can also cause symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Survivors of sexual trauma often struggle with powerful feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety.
Causes and Risk Factors of Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction can result from a variety of physical and psychological concerns. Risk factors for sexual dysfunction may include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Heart conditions
- Urology conditions
- Vascular disease
- Increased age
- A history of sexual abuse
Hormonal imbalances can also make it difficult to become aroused or achieve orgasm. Some prescription medications may cause symptoms of sexual dysfunction as well, especially blood pressure medications and antidepressants.
Psychiatric conditions like depression or anxiety can also affect your libido, even if you aren't taking prescription drugs. Other mental health concerns such as alcohol or drug abuse may cause sexual dysfunction, too.
Stroke or nerve damage from vascular conditions or diabetes may also result in sexual dysfunction. If you suffer from heart disease or vascular disorders, ask your doctor for more information on how these conditions may affect your sex life.
Tests and Diagnosis of Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction is often diagnosed based on the symptoms the patient reports. During your medical appointment, your doctor may ask a variety of questions about your sex life. Your doctor might also ask if you have ever been the victim of sexual violence. These conversations may be embarrassing, but it's important to be as honest as possible when answering.
Your doctor may also physically examine you and perform a pelvic or rectal exam. Blood tests to check your hormone levels may also be ordered.
Treatment and Care for Sexual Dysfunction
Treatment options may vary depending on what condition is causing your sexual dysfunction. If your symptoms are caused by a physical problem like low hormone levels, your doctor may recommend medication. Other conditions may require surgery, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes. Your doctor may refer you to a urologist or gynecologist for further treatment.
If your symptoms are caused by depression or trauma, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist. Mental health care can help resolve many psychiatric conditions and accompanying physical symptoms.