Sexual Disorders

Almost all men and women have faced lack of sexual desire or sexual response problems at some time or the other. In most cases such problems are simply a temporary phenomenon and you don’t really need to worry about your sexual prowess! However, in the event that such problems occur on a persistent or recurrent basis, then you probably suffer from a sexual disorder. Before you hit the panic button and jump to unpleasant conclusions, keep in mind that most sexual disorders are simply temporary and can be resolved quite easily with treatment. Also known as sexual dysfunction, sexual disorders can be described as the inability to experience a state of arousal or to achieve sexual satisfaction, under normal circumstances. Medical experts explain a sexual disorder as any problem that affects a man or a woman’s sexual desire, functioning or performance. There could be several different types of sexual disorders that affect people of both genders.

Some of the most common sexual problems that affect men include impotence or erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorders (premature, retarded or retrograde) and inhibited sexual desire. The types of sexual disorders that are observed in women include a lack of desire or arousal, difficulty achieving an orgasm and dyspareunia (pain during intercourse). Types of sexual disorders could also include vaginismus or gender identity disorder, to name a few, in case they interfere with a person’s ability to engage in normal acts of sexual intercourse.

Some of these sexual disorders last only for a short period of time and get resolved without any medical treatment. However, in many instances, these problems are a lifelong occurrence. It is necessary to consult a health care provider and undergo proper treatment, in order to get over a sexual disorder. There are many sexual disorders that do not get resolved at all, if left unchecked and untreated. So although it may not help to worry about your libido, some concern would be reasonable.

Although anyone can be affected by sexual dysfunction, it is more prevalent in older people, as compared to others. There are many individuals, who develop a sexual disorder later in life, - after they have experienced a long phase of satisfactory functioning. However, it is also possible for a person to suffer from sexual dysfunction problems right from the time they become sexually active. Some of the factors that could trigger off sexual disorders include a history of sexual abuse, use of certain drugs, excess stress or depression, or even medical conditions. Many women have been known to suffer from sexual disorders after having a baby, or going through some major changes in life.

Because this problem is quite sensitive and perhaps even embarrassing in nature, most people shy away from discussing it with others and refuse to even seek help. Overcoming your inhibitions and approaching your doctor could actually save you a great deal of embarrassment in the bedroom. Sexual disorders are quite common in both men and women and your health care providers have in all likelihood dealt with hundreds of cases like yours. In most cases, the problem is not really serious and can be treated quite easily. However, at times, sexual disorders could actually be symptoms of other underlying medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as the symptoms of any type of sexual disorder begin to arise.

Symptoms of Sexual Disorders

There are different warning signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of a sexual disorder or dysfunction. There are many men and women who develop the symptoms of sexual disorders suddenly, after enjoying a normal and healthy life. This usually occurs in case of women who have just been through a pregnancy. Men and women could also develop sexual disorder symptoms after being in an accident, undergoing a major life change or being diagnosed with an illness. Some of the most common symptoms for sexual disorders include:

  • Total absence of sexual desire or a low sex drive
  • An inability to get aroused or maintain an arousal for the duration of sexual activity
  • Recurrent ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation
  • Inadequate lubrication in spite of sexual excitement
  • Not achieving an orgasm, after going through the normal excitement phase
  • Pain while having intercourse

Most people tend to overlook the symptoms of sexual disorders in the initial phases, chalking it down to stress, being overworked, fatigue, and so on. However, if these symptoms are present during most sexual acts or perhaps even interfere with a relationship, then it is best to consult a doctor and seek medical treatment. Make an appointment with your doctor, without any delay to identify what the possible causes can be and how the problem can be overcome.

At first, the doctor may ask you questions, to identify the possible causes of sexual disorders. You may also need to go through a pelvic exam, just to ensure that the symptoms you are facing are not a result of any physical or structural problems. Counselors or therapists specializing in relationships may also need to be involved to identify the main cause of the problem.

Causes of Sexual Disorders

A decline is sexual activity is seen quite frequently in most people, as they age. Studies indicate that sexual disorders are more common in women, as compared to men; around 43% of women and 31% of men have experienced at last one episode of sexual disorder at some time or the other. There are several different causes for sexual disorders in men and women that can broadly be divided into three categories – Physical causes, Psychological causes and Hormonal Causes (mainly in women).

Physical causes refer to health conditions that contribute towards sexual problems or the inability to achieve satisfaction. Some of the most common physical causes for sexual disorders include:

  • Neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis
  • Fatigue, frequent headaches or chronic pain
  • Urinary or bowel difficulties
  • Surgery, especially in the pelvic area
  • Diseases like arthritis, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Use of certain medication or recreational drugs
  • Injuries

Psychological causes refer to factors that result in excess stress, anxiety or mental problems, contributing towards sexual dysfunction. Some of the most common psychological causes for sexual disorders include:

  • Sexual trauma or abuse in the past
  • Anxiety disorder and attacks
  • Poor self-image and lack of confidence
  • Depression
  • Negative feeling, like guilt for any reason

Hormonal causes of sexual disorders are seen in women, mainly when the levels of estrogen in their bodies fall. Such hormonal changes not only lead to genital tissue changes, but also trigger off changes in sexual desire and responsiveness. Because of hormonal changes, the folds of skin that cover the genital region become thinner and expose more of the clitoris, which could reduce its sensitivity, thereby leading to a fairly unpleasant prickling or tingling sensation. The lining of the vagina also becomes thinner and loses some of its elasticity. This could lead to pain during intercourse as well as delay in orgasm. At times, hormonal changes in women can lead to vaginal dryness, which affects sexual desire adversely.

In some individuals, a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle practices like drinking alcohol and smoking can also lead to sexual problems.

Remedies for Sexual Disorders

Fortunately, most instances of sexual disorders in men and women can be treated. Some of the newer treatment options for sexual dysfunctions address not just the medical concerns, but also the emotional ones. While there are medical solutions and drugs that can help cure such disorders, in most cases, it is be behavioral treatments like couple therapy or stress management that bring about the desired results. Many sexual health specialists advise men and women to deal with their problems by first using simple remedies, improving communication with their partners and bringing about some lifestyle changes. Some of the most commonly recommended home remedies for improving sexual disorders include:

  • A mixture of milk (250 ml) , to which drumstick flowers (10 to 15 grams) have been added
  • A combination of pistachios, dried dates, quince seeds and almonds, which have all been blended together.
  • Eating 100 grams of dried dates on a regular basis
  • Herbs, such as kava-kava, ginko biloba, chives, diffusa, arginine, lepidium meyenii and damiana
  • Natural therapies, like full body massages and hot baths.
  • Aromatherapy using essential oils like clary sage, rose, jasmine and lavendar
  • Chewing on a few pieces of garlic or increasing the amount of garlic consumed through meals

In case the sexual disorder is a result of a medical condition, then it may be necessary to first address that. Medical treatment may also be used in case home remedies do not prove to be very effective. Some of the medication or therapies suggested for curing sexual disorders in men and women include:

  • Androgen therapy
  • Estrogen therapy
  • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors
  • Testosterone replacement therapy
  • Tibolone

There are many people who have also seen some amount of improvement in sexual disorders, with the help of alternate treatments, like yoga, mindful meditation and acupuncture. The use of certain medications may need to be discontinued, if it is determined that they are causing sexual problems.

Very often individuals afflicted with such disorders do not discuss their sexual problems with anyone, including their partners. Studies indicate that most of the psychological causes of sexual dysfunction can be overcome, with the help of counseling, where couples talk and listen to one another.

Diet for Sexual Disorders

It is true that sexual disorders usually occur because of psychological, hormonal or physical conditions that are not really related to a diet. However, in order to overcome sexual dysfunction, it is important to maximize physical and mental health, for which a nutritious diet is essential. There are certain foods that are known for their aphrodisiac-like properties and therefore could help overcome sexual problems. The consumption of such foods should be increased by people who suffer from sexual disorders. Given below are some of the food items that should be included in a diet for better sexual health:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Avocado
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Salmon

Similarly, there are certain foods that may aggravate sexual disorders and therefore should be strictly avoided by individuals who do have problems or are undergoing treatment. Some of the foods that should be consumed in limited quantities or preferably not at all include:

  • Red meat
  • Caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee and aerated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Sweets and sugary items
  • Starchy food, such as processed or packaged items

There are some alternate health care practitioners who refer to Vitamin E as the “sex vitamin”, as it helps in the production of sex hormones. They believe it improves sexual attraction, desire and moods. Hence, increasing the intake of these vitamins can reduce sexual disorders considerably.

Suggestion for Sexual Disorders

Sexual disorders are particularly difficult to deal with, as compared to other health problems. Most people find it difficult to even accept that they may have a problem, because they are afraid that they will be ridiculed. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to exercise a lot of sensitivity when dealing with patients who may be suffering from sexual disorders.

Anyone suffering from sexual disorders should take a closer look at the medications they are on, whether over the counter or prescription drugs. Avoid self medication, and if any of the medications you are on have been prescribed by your health care giver then consult with him/her for safer alternatives. Antidepressants and blood pressure lowering medications have been known to have some effects on sexual health.

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