Conditions That Often Cause Sexual Problems

There are many health conditions that can wreak havoc in your sex life. Some of these may be obvious. If you're having urological issues, for example, or if you're a woman with hormonal imbalances or conditions involving the uterus, ovaries, or anything in that region, you probably wouldn't be surprised to discover that your sex life may suffer, at least a little bit. On the other hand, you might be caught off guard by the sudden decline in your sex life as a result of seemingly unrelated medical conditions.

Diabetes

It's not unusual for men with diabetes to suffer from impotence, at least on an occasional basis. Diabetes can negatively affect blood flow to the penis, making it difficult for a man to achieve and maintain an erection as often as he may like. In addition, the fluctuations in energy levels throughout the day (especially if your diabetes isn't well controlled or you don't follow your treatment plan) can affect sexual interest and stamina for people of either gender.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure causes a problem similar to the one caused by diabetes. Damaged and/or hardened arteries and blood vessels carry less blood to vital organs and appendages, including the penis. Plus, high blood pressure can cause headaches and other symptoms that generally don't put you in the mood for romance.

Although medical conditions involving reduced blood flow have the biggest impact on the physical sexual abilities of men, women are not totally off the hook. Reduced blood flow to the genital area in women can cause vaginal dryness and discomfort. Fortunately, lubricating gels can be very helpful in solving this problem.

In what can seem like a catch-22, the medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure are also notorious for causing sexual problems. See more details in the section on medications.

Heart Problems

Heart problems and circulatory issues often go hand-in-hand. Again, there's the issue of poor blood flow to the genitals.

Then there's the fact that people with heart conditions can often find it more difficult to do any kind of strenuous physical activity. Unless your heart condition is very serious, it's likely that sex is safe for you (but of course you should check with your doctor to make sure). If you find it painful or exhausting to over-exert yourself, you can simply avoid the more acrobatic positions and focus on sex positions and techniques that you find both enjoyable and physically comfortable.

People who have already had a heart attack or heart surgery may be especially nervous about having sex, even if their equipment seems to be working fine. While you will likely need to refrain from physical exertion of any kind for a certain period, most patients can usually resume normal sexual activities after a short time, once their doctors give them the okay.

Because erectile dysfunction can be caused by an underlying medical condition, it can sometimes alert you to a serious health problem you didn't even know you had. This is yet another reason why it's important to discuss the problem with your doctor.

Multiple Sclerosis

A large number of people with multiple sclerosis experience some form of sexual dysfunction, ranging from erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation to decreased sensation in genital areas. MS can sometimes cause painful muscle cramps and spasms that make sex impossible or painful.

Depression

Many people suffering from depression will have little or no desire for sex. This really isn't all that surprising — especially in the case of moderate to severe depression, where people often have little interest or motivation to do anything enjoyable at all. People who are depressed also tend to want to be alone, which of course isn't exactly conducive to having sex.

Hormonal Disorders

Hormonal imbalances and disorders can cause sexual problems in both men and women. Generally, this appears in the form of low sex drive (or no sex drive at all).

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5 million American men have low testosterone. In addition to impotence and other sex problems, low testosterone levels can cause breast enlargement, hot flashes, and depression.

For men, low testosterone levels frequently cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems. Low testosterone can be caused by aging, accidents, testicular cancer, and other health problems.

Excessively high testosterone levels won't be so great for your sex life, either. Too much testosterone in men can cause aggression, acne, and other nasty side effects.

Testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, often following a somewhat regular pattern (for example, many men have higher testosterone levels in the morning). If you or your partner are alert enough to track these patterns, you may be able to tailor your sexual routine so you can take advantage of those peak testosterone periods.

Testosterone isn't just an issue for men. Women who have too much testosterone will often have manly traits such as excessive facial and body hair, increased muscle mass, and deeper voices.

Anabolic steroids cause many health problems, but are perhaps most notorious for causing impotence and other sexual problems in men. This is because steroids cause testicular shrinkage, which leads to performance problems along with low sperm count and infertility. There's also a strong tendency toward aggression and rage, which of course doesn't encourage warm and intimate relations.

Many women are distressed to suddenly experience sexual problems during or after menopause. This is caused by a drop in estrogen levels. While hormone replacement therapies can help, they carry their own side effects and risks, so talk to your doctor and research all your options before deciding what's best for you.

Conditions Affecting the Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is a small gland attached to your brain. It secretes hormones and controls other hormone-releasing glands, such as the adrenal glands. That means this gland has a lot of power over your sex drive. Unfortunately, that also means that any problem with your pituitary gland — such as a tumor (even a noncancerous one) or a cyst — can really wreak havoc with your sex life.

Many people know that thyroid problems can affect weight and energy levels. However, you might be surprised to learn that thyroid imbalances and conditions can also cause low sex drives and impotence.

The Good News

If you have one or more of the health conditions that have the potential to adversely affect your sex life, you may be feeling a bit nervous, even if your sex life is going just fine at the moment. Don't despair — there are lots of steps you can take to keep your sex life going, regardless of your health issues.

These include:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments. If you suffer from ED, there are several medications that are effective in treating this condition for many men. You must of course first tell your doctor about any other medications you take, to avoid any negative interactions.

  • Libido boosters. If your sex drive isn't what it used to be, you may just need to jump start it. Try watching some adult movies or engaging in new forms of foreplay.

  • Oils and lubricants. For medical conditions that cause vaginal dryness, use lubricants or oils. You don't need to focus on the remedy aspect, because these products can enhance your sexual experience and are great for everyone, whether they have dryness issues or not.

  • Energy boosters. If health issues have sapped your stamina, try a few different energy boosters (protein shakes, multivitamins, etc.) and see if you notice any improvement. Ask your doctor for suggestions of products that can help your energy level.

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