Human sexual function is a vital component of life. However, sexual dysfunction is a highly prevalent condition that has been found among adults 18 to 59 years of age.  Studies show that about 43% of women and 31% of men have expressed sexual concerns. The demographics of sexual dysfunction have shown that problems such as these are more prevalent in young women and older men specifically. Sexual dysfunction generally can be very stressful for patients and their partners and can have an immense impact on the quality of life and self-image. Although we think that sexual challenges are due to our physical nature, it’s not always that case, there are also psychological and sociocultural factors. What we mean by this is that there can be times when how we feel or the environment we are around affects our sexual functioning.

Nonetheless, patients presenting with sexual complaints should be properly evaluated and given treatment according to their diagnosis. We’ve provided a list things you should consider when having issues of this nature and what will be assessed if you see a professional. The assessment would comprise of five key biopsychological domains for both genders:

  • Medical Factors - hormones: testosterone and estrogen levels
  • Cultural or Religious factors - beliefs, moral values, traditions, language, and laws
  • Individual Vulnerability factors - physical, economic, social and political factors determine people's level of vulnerability
  • Relationship factors- accessibility, responsiveness, and emotional engagement
  • Partner factors - compatibility

Female sexual dysfunction is an umbrella term that entails a vast array of common disorders, including hypoactive sexual desire, reduced subjective and/or physical genital arousal, sexual pain, and inability to achieve orgasm and/or satisfaction. Female sexual dysfunction sexual disorder is therefore multidimensional and different conditions can often co-occur. Some of these conditions include:

  • Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (significantly reduced, sexual interest/arousal)
  • Female Orgasmic Disorder (difficulty in achieving orgasm, decreased intensity of orgasm, or in some cases both)
  • Genito Pelvic Pain or Penetration Disorder (difficulty having intercourse and feeling significant pain upon penetration)
  • Vulvodynia (chronic pain in the area around the opening of the vagina)
  • Vaginismus (spasm or contraction of the muscles around the vagina)
  • Deep Dyspareunia (pain with deep vaginal penetration)
  • Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (hormonal drops such as estrogen that can lead to a group of genital and urinary symptoms)

In order for a definitive diagnosis to be given, all disorders require that the symptoms persist for at least six months.

Male sexual dysfunction includes sexual pain/or diminished or loss of sexual desire/interest, arousal, function, or orgasm. In order to be properly evaluated and given a diagnosis, it is required for the patient to address the gravity of distress along with impairment. Symptoms must persist for at least six months for males as well. Male sexual disorders include:

  • Erectile Disorder (inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse)
  • Premature Ejaculation (early ejaculation)
  • Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity)
  • Delayed Ejaculation (difficulty or inability of a man to reach an orgasm and to ejaculate semen)
  • Subjective PE (lack of control over the timing of an ejaculation)
  • Anteportal Ejaculation (occurs prior to vaginal penetration, considered the most severe form of PE)
  • Variable PE (short ejaculatory latency, occurs irregularly and inconsistently)

It is crucial for both female and males to be screened for depression if they show a magnified loss of sexual interest. Studies have shown that females and males with severe depression experience sexual dysfunction. Loss of sexual interest and desire is a common symptom of major depression. A physical examination should also be performed.

As far as treatments, the majority of these disorders can be treated by therapy or pharmaceutical drugs. Be sure to contact your family physician. For those who oppose taking the drug route, there have been alternative methods with the use of herbal medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor or therapist to see which treatment works best for you.

Written by

Rebecca Murrillo, Undergraduate Intern​

June 18, 2019

Works Cited: 

Rose, M. (2016).  Female Sexual Dysfunction.  NETCe. #93030.

Rose, M. (2016).  Male Sexual Dysfunction.  NETCe. #93770.

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