It is important to understand the basics about sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction can affect both men and women. It is also common. Many men and women will experience some degree of sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives, and it becomes increasingly common as we age.
What Is Sexual Dysfunction in Men?
In men, sexual dysfunction refers to issues such as decreased desire, difficulty obtaining and/or maintaining an erection, and a variety of problems with ejaculation, ranging from premature ejaculation to the inability to ejaculate. Of these, difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection ( erectile dysfunction ) tends to be of greatest concern. A variety of conditions can cause ED. Some causes include spinal cord injuries; high blood pressure ; and the medications used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes , heart disease, and depression .
What’s Available to Treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in Men?
There are different medications available to treat erectile dysfunction. Some examples are sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis). They all work in a similar fashion. They improve the functioning of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring chemical responsible for relaxing smooth muscle tissue. This in turn helps increase blood flow into the penis, allowing a man to achieve and maintain an erection.
Who Shouldn’t Use Medications for Erectile Dysfunction?
Men who have had a heart attack , stroke , or abnormal heart rhythm within the past six months should not use these medications. Furthermore, men who already use nitrate medications (for example, to treat angina ) or alpha-blockers should never use any of these medications. Men with severe liver or kidney disease; certain eye disorders; uncontrolled, high, or significantly low blood pressure; or who have been advised to avoid sexual activity due to unstable heart disease should also not take these medications.
What’s Sexual Dysfunction in Women?
In women, sexual dysfunction can take the form of decreased sexual desire or libido, difficulty becoming sexually aroused, decreased sexual enjoyment, inability to have an orgasm, abnormal vaginal muscular contractions ( vaginismus ), or actual pain with intercourse.
What’s Available to Treat Sexual Dysfunction in Women?
There are no medications currently approved specifically for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. Research is ongoing in this area. There has been research to find out if Viagra is effective for women, however the results are mixed. Bupropion, which is a type of antidepressant, has been found to be helpful in studies of women with decreased sexual desire. Studies have shown that sex therapy appears to be effective in addressing symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 08/2012 -
- Update Date: 08/19/2012 -