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Sexual Dysfunction 

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Sexual problems are defined as difficulty during any stage of the sexual act (which includes desire, arousal, orgasm and resolution) that prevents the individual or couple from enjoying sexual activity.

Sexual difficulties may begin early in a person's life, or they may develop after an individual has previously experienced enjoyable and satisfying sex. A problem may develop gradually over time, or may occur suddenly as a total or partial inability to participate in one or more stages of the sexual act. The causes of sexual difficulties can be physical, psychological or both.

Emotional factors affecting sex include both interpersonal problems and psychological problems within the individual. Interpersonal problems include marital or relationship problems, or lack of trust and open communication between partners. Personal psychological problems include depression, sexual fears or guilt, or past sexual trauma.

Physical factors contributing to sexual problems include:
 Drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, stimulants, antihypertensives (medicines that lower blood pressure), antihistamines, and some psychotherapeutic drugs (drugs that treat psychological problems such as depression).
 Injuries to the back
 Enlarged prostate gland
 Problems with blood supply
 Nerve damage (spinal cord injuries) 
 Failure of various organs (heart and lungs)
 Endocrine disorders (thyroid, pituitary, or adrenal gland problems) 
 Hormonal deficiencies (low testosterone, estrogen, or androgens)

Possible signs of sexual dysfunction include
 Lack of interest in sex (loss of libido)
 Inability to feel aroused
 Inability to attain an erection
 Inability to maintain an erection adequately for intercourse
 Delay or absence of ejaculation, despite adequate stimulation 
 Inability to control timing of ejaculation

Diagnostic tools for sexual dysfunction include:

     Physical Exam
    Identify predisposing illness or conditions

     History
    Uncover any history of prior sexual trauma

Types of treatment for sexual dysfunction include

     Medication
    Increases blood flow to the penis 

     Surgery
    Penile Implants for men who cannot retain an erection with medication 

     Physical Therapy
    May prove helpful for some people experiencing sexual dysfunction due to physical illnesses, conditions or disabilities.

Information for this section was compiled with the help of the following Web site. Please see them for more information on sexual dysfunction.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
 
 


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