Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunctions cover a wide range of conditions, which lead to problems that prevent people from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity. Sexual dysfunctions are common, with 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men reporting sexual problems. Difficulties can be caused by physical or psychological problems. Male conditions include ejaculation disorders: premature, inhibited, and retrograde ejaculation that includes ejaculating before or right after penetration, ejaculation does not occur, and semen is forced into the bladder instead of out the penis. Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse.

Female conditions include female sexual arousal disorder, where a woman feels inhibited, does not get aroused, and may be repulsed when touched. Female orgasmic disorder where a woman is aroused but cannot reach orgasm, and vaginismus, involuntary spasm of the vagina making intercourse impossible. Disorders for both sexes include inhibited sexual desire, which is a decrease of loss of interestin sexual activity, and hypoactive sexual desire disorder, persistent repeated sex fantasies or desire for sex.

Sexual disorders are closely linked to stress and anxiety. Possible psychological causes include marriage or relationship problems, fears about sexual performance, having experienced a sexual trauma such as rape, and feeling guilty about having sex due to childhood upbringing, and finding your partner unattractive. Most sexual difficulties that occur because of stress and milder emotional disorders can be treated through counseling, sex education, and better communication with your partner. More severe emotional problems, such as having an anxiety disorder, may require psychotherapy and medication, though some medicines may exacerbate sexual problems.


Most people who seek help for sexual problems are between the late twenties and early thirties. But sexual dysfunction is also common in the aging population and usually related to the effects of aging. Sexual difficulties often cause distress and may create problems in a relationship. Men who experience sexual difficulties may feel shame and loss of control. Women may feel shame, isolation, and fear they are unattractive to their partner.

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