Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is broadly defined as the inability to fully enjoy sexual intercourse. Specifically, sexual dysfunctions are disorders that interfere with a full sexual response cycle. These disorders make it difficult for a person to enjoy or to have sexual intercourse.

While it may not threaten physical health, sexual dysfunction can take a heavy psychological toll on an individual and/or a relationship and bring on depression, anxiety and debilitating feelings of inadequacy.

Causes of sexual dysfunction in men and women can be a result of a physical or psychological problem.

Male Sexual Dysfunction


The three most common male sexual dysfunctions are ejaculation disorders, erectile dysfunction and decreased libido.


Different types of ejaculation disorders include:

  • Premature ejaculations. Ejaculations that occur before or soon after penetration. (This is the most common form of sexual dysfunction in men.)
  • Inhibited or retarded ejaculation. Ejaculations that are slow to occur.
  • Retrograde ejaculation. When, at orgasm, the ejaculate is forced back into the bladder rather than through the urethra and out the end of the penis.

Causes of ejaculation disorders

  • Premature ejaculation is often due to a man’s nervousness over how well he will perform during sex.
  • Premature and inhibited ejaculation can be cause by other psychological factors including past traumatic events, a strict religious background that causes a person to view sex as a sin, or lack of attraction for a partner.
  • Certain drugs (including antidepressants)
  • Nerve damage to the spinal cord or back
  • Retrograde ejaculation is common in males with diabetes suffering from diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
  • Retrograde ejaculation can also occur after operations on the bladder neck or prostrate or after certain abdominal operations.


Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is the inability to attain and/or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse.

Causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Diseases affecting blood flow, such as atherosclerosis
  • Nerve disorders
  • Psychological factors, such as stress, depression, and performance anxiety
  • Injury to the penis
  • Chronic illness
  • Certain drugs
  • Peyronie’s disease


Decreased libido, or inhibited desire, is a decrease in desire for, or interest in, sexual factors.

Causes of decreased libido can be either physical or psychological and include:

  • Low levels of the hormone testosterone
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Medical illnesses (such as high blood pressure and diabetes)
  • Certain medications (such as antidepressants)
  • Relationship difficulties

Female Sexual Dysfunction


Types of female sexual dysfunction include:

  • Low sexual desire. You have diminished libido or lack of sex drive.
  • Sexual arousal disorder. While your sex drive is intact, you have difficulty or are unable to become aroused or maintain arousal during sexual activity.
  • Orgasmic disorder. You have persistent or recurrent difficulty in achieving orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal and ongoing stimulation.
  • Sexual pain disorder. You have pain associated with sexual stimulation or vaginal contact.


Some common causes include:

  • Mental and emotional causes including stress, relationship problems, depression, fear, a history of sexual abuse or rape, and body dissatisfaction
  • Physical causes including hormone problems, pain from an injury or other problem and certain conditions such as diabetes, endometriosis or arthritis.
  • Aging, which causes changes in the vagina such as dryness, thinner walls, narrowing and shortening.
  • Medical treatments for other illnesses or conditions, such as past surgeries or cancer treatments
  • Certain medications, including those for depression, blood pressure, allergies and diabetes.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse


  • Less desire for sex
  • Difficulty feeling aroused
  • Not being able to have an orgasm
  • Pain during sex

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