“Are you having sexual problems?” is a question that’s hard to answer but shows in your performance in the bedroom. Are sexual problems a cause of immediate concern? For some, they are, especially when that sexual dysfunction can cause relationship problems.
Both men and women can experience sexual disorders. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to improve sexual health.
Sexual dysfunctions are problems encountered while having sex. It may be difficult to erect the penis (erectile dysfunction or ED) in men or an inability to achieve orgasm in women (anorgasmia). These sexual dysfunctions result in unsatisfactory sexual intercourse in either or both parties.
There are different types of sexual disorders. The diagnosis or treatment will depend on what you’re experiencing and what causes the sexual dysfunction. The risk factors and causes on both men and women may be physical conditions, hormonal problems, unhealthy lifestyle, medication side effects (like serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or psychological causes.
Related: Understanding Sexual Disorders
Treatments for Sexual Disorders in Women
The most common female sexual dysfunction is hypoactive sexual desire disorder (low libido or decreased sexual desire), vaginal dryness, not having an orgasm, or painful intercourse.
Communication with your partner, doctor, and/or counselor is key to improving your sexual health. The goal of treatment for female sexual dysfunction is to address the underlying cause and choose a treatment that works for you.
Female sexual dysfunction may be caused by physical conditions like diabetes, hormone problems, or heart disease. The goal is first to address the underlying medical problem and see if there are improvements in sexual function. If not, here are some possible treatment options for female sexual dysfunction:
- Hormone therapy: Vaginal dryness is caused by low estrogen levels, which occur when women age. Estrogen therapy is recommended to increase the blood flow in the vagina and promote natural lubrication. Androgen therapy may also be given, which includes testosterone.
- Ospemifene (Osphena): This medication is given to women who experience pain during sex caused by vulvovaginal atrophy (the drying, thinning, and inflammation of vaginal walls).
- Flibanserin (Addyi) or bremelanotide (Vyleesi): The doctor may recommend either Addyi or Vyleesi to premenopausal women with low sexual desire. These medications are self-injected into the belly or thigh before having sex. If you feel unpleasant side effects from these medications, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
Female sexual dysfunction may also be caused by underlying mental health issues like depression, anxiety, traumatic sexual history, or a history of sexual abuse. If the female sexual dysfunction is caused by psychological problems, seeking help from a counselor or mental health professional is the best choice.
- Couple’s therapy: In couples’ therapy, it is important to talk and listen to your partner regarding both your sexual health. Some couples are unable to speak openly about the issues in the bedroom (especially men). But by doing so, providing non-threatening feedback on your partner’s sexual performance may lead to greater intimacy in the future.
- Healthy lifestyle: Here’s what both men and women need to know: when you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction, try to practice a healthy lifestyle first before resorting to medical treatment. A healthy lifestyle means exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. All these can decrease stress and elevate your mood so you can have a more enjoyable sexual experience.
- Counseling: Talking to a sex therapist or couple’s counselor may help you and your partner formulate strategies for improved sexual experience. The therapy may include improving intimacy in the relationship, increasing sexual desire, and optimising sexual response.
- Other options: Lubricants may be used in case of vaginal dryness. For additional stimulation, women may use sex devices like a vibrator.
There are different types of sexual dysfunction in men. Low libido, premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation (despite enough sexual stimulation), erectile dysfunction, sexual aversion disorder, and pain disorders are the most common.
Just like in women, causes may be due to physical and/or mental health factors. The goal of treatment is focused on addressing the underlying cause to achieve a healthy sexual response.
- Penile vascular surgery: This is recommended for men with erectile dysfunction and poor blood flow into the penis, though not all men are qualified for the surgery.
- Prosthesis: These are implants placed on the penis for men with erectile dysfunction. The prosthesis will help with the erection of the penis.
- Medication: Oral medication may include phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE-5), an example of which is the well-known Viagra.
- Other options to improve erection: Transuretheral therapy (liquid is introduced to the urethra) and an elastic band is applied at the base of the penis to maintain an erection. Intracavernous injection (e.g., alprostadil, papaverine, or other drug combinations) may also be prescribed. Consult your primary healthcare provider if you feel any side effects.
Like the treatment interventions for women, lifestyle change is the first option before trying on medications and surgery. If the sexual problem is caused by mental health problems, counseling can help.
- Premature ejaculation: For premature ejaculation, psychological therapy and Couple’s therapy will be useful. Premature ejaculation can be addressed by therapy by trying to ‘hold it in.’
- Anorgasmia: Psychiatric counseling can help with anorgasmia (disordered orgasm or inability to achieve orgasm) to address the underlying cause.
- Medical consultation: If you’re taking medications that cause a delay in ejaculation, talk to your doctor first and ask what can be done. An example of medications that cause a delay in ejaculation are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Natural supplements for erectile dysfunction: Panax ginseng, rhodiola rosea, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), L-arginine, and yohimbe may help improve ED.
Do not let sexual problems get in the way of making yourself and your partner happy. Determine the cause, change your lifestyle, address the underlying medical problem, and/or seek counseling for mental health problems.
Know your treatment options and select the best one that is right for you. If you’re looking for the best counselors, schedule an appointment now at Kentucky Counseling Center.