Sexual Problems in Men
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to attain and/or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse. Causes of erectile dysfunction include diseases affecting blood flow, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); nerve disorders; psychological factors, such as stress, depression, and performance anxiety (nervousness over his ability to sexually perform); and injury to the penis. Chronic illness, certain drugs, and a condition called Peyronie's disease (scar tissue in the penis) also can cause erectile dysfunction.
What Is Inhibited Sexual Desire?
Inhibited desire, or loss of libido, refers to a decrease in desire for, or interest in sexual activity. Reduced libido can result from physical or psychological factors. It has been associated with low levels of the hormone testosterone. It also may be caused by psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression; medical illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure; certain medications, including some antidepressants; and relationship difficulties.
How Are Male Sexual Problems Diagnosed?
To diagnose a man's sexual problem, the doctor likely will begin with a thorough history of symptoms and a physical exam. He or she may order other tests to rule out any medical problems that may be contributing to the dysfunction. The doctor may refer you to other health professionals, including a urologist (a doctor specializing in the urinary tract and male reproductive system), sex therapist, and other counselors.
How Is Male Sexual Dysfunction Treated?
Many cases of sexual dysfunction can be corrected by treating the underlying physical or psychological problems. Treatment strategies may include the following:
- Medical treatment: This involves treatment of any physical problem that may be contributing to a man's sexual dysfunction.
- Medications: Medications, such as Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, Stendra, or Viagra may help improve erectile function in men by increasing blood flow to the penis. Promescent is a drug used to treat premature ejaculation. The topical spray is applied to the penis and contains lidocaine, reducing sensitivity and allowing for more ejaculation control.
- Hormones: Men with low levels of testosterone may benefit from testosterone replacement therapy.
- Psychological therapy: Therapy with a trained counselor can help a person address feelings of anxiety, fear, or guilt that may have an impact on sexual function.
- Mechanical aids: Aids such as vacuum devices and penile implants may help men with erectile dysfunction.
- Education and communication: Education about sex and sexual behaviors and responses may help a man overcome his anxieties about sexual performance. Open dialogue with your partner about your needs and concerns also helps to overcome many barriers to a healthy sex life.
Can Sexual Problems Be Cured?
The success of treatment for sexual dysfunction depends on the underlying cause of the problem. The outlook is good for dysfunction that is related to a treatable or reversible physical condition. Mild dysfunction that is related to stress, fear, or anxiety often can be successfully treated with counseling, education, and improved communication between partners.