Sexual problems are defined as difficulty during any stage (desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution) of the sexual act, which 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
Physical factors contributing to sexual problems include:
- Injuries to the back
- An enlarged prostate gland
- Disease (
diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, tumors, and, rarely, tertiary syphilis)
- Drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, stimulants, antihypertensives (medicines that lower blood pressure), antihistamines, and some psychotherapeutic drugs (used to treat psychological problems such as depression)
Endocrinedisorders (thyroid, pituitary, or adrenal gland problems)
- Failure of various organs (such as the heart and lungs)
- Hormonal deficiencies (low testosterone, estrogen, or androgens)
- Nerve damage (as in spinal cord injuries)
- Problems with blood supply
- Some birth defects
Review Date: 09/11/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.