Sexual dysfunction is common but one of the least discussed concerns among men and women of various ages. Insufficient discussion of the problems and the lack of mutual understanding between the partners are the obstacles to its solution. It is crucial to understand that the successful treatment of any sexual disorder depends on the correct definition of the underlying causes. While the physiological causes can be easily established with the help of the diagnostics and tests, the psychological ones can be revealed only through the conversation with the patient.
This is why the current research paper is focused on the main factors that can lead to various types of disorders, treatment, and the gender factor that predetermines differences in sexual dysfunctions. Based on the literature review and the analysis of the psychological and physiological causes, this research shows that the emotional aspect always plays a great role in solving the problems related to the intimate life of the partners.
In many cases, dysfunction can be successfully treated with counseling and communication therapies. However, even if the medication or mechanical aids are necessary, the therapy, dialogue, and counseling are still appropriate as they are particularly important to ensure the understanding between the partners.
Keywords: excitement, orgasm, physiological causes, plateau, psychological causes, resolution, sexual dysfunction, treatment.
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The statistics demonstrate that sexual dysfunction is a common problem among Americans. For 43%t of women and 31% of men, there exists a sexual problem that they are often unwilling to discuss with other people (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). However, it is important to understand that any sexual dysfunction can be treated effectively if the partners share their concerns and search for solutions. The sexual desire of a person is a common reaction to various sexually stimulating activities at the physical and emotional levels. It is a basic stage on the way to the consequent pleasure males and females can get, and it is the essential component of the human body functioning.
However, it may not always lead to desirable outcomes. Both men and women can face some problems caused by psychological or physiological factors. As a result, the person might be not satisfied with the sexual act and face a number of issues connected with physiological and emotional health. With regard to the fact that sexual dysfunctions can vary according to their types and origin, it is necessary to investigate the range of the most efficient treatments depending on the underlying reasons for the disorders. The research paper is aimed to prove that the emotional aspect is often of great importance for the effective treatment of sexual dysfunction among men and women. Therefore, this research paper shows that even though the disorder can be of both physical or psychological origin, communication between partners is the basis for successful treatment.
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Types of Sexual Dysfunctions
Sexual dysfunctions can appear at different stages of sexual arousal. The most widely spread classification of the phases of sexual intercourse includes excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The first stage is responsible for sexual wish. The second is the reaction to the physical or psychological stimulation while the third reflects the elevation of various biological indicators associated with orgasm. The last stage is resolution after the act. The disorders can be related to each of these stages (Mandal, 2014). Accordingly, the problems appearing at the first stage are characterized by the lack of sexual desire. Montgomery (2008) indicates two disorders that can affect a person at that moment, namely hypoactive social desire disorder (HSDD) and sexual aversion disorder (SAD).
HSDD is characterized by the deficiency of sexual activity or wishes while SAD is characterized by the avoidance of sexual relations. The possible problems at the second stage include the inability to be physically excited or aroused. For men, it means the issues with erectile function. For women, insufficient lubrication is the most common problem. In the third stage, the absence of orgasm is the major common disturbance. The final fourth stage is associated with post-sexual pain or some discomfort during intercourse.
The ailments can be both similar and distinctive among men and women. For men, erectile dysfunction, retarded ejaculation, and uncontrolled ejaculation are the most common disorders (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). As for the females, some of them cannot reach orgasm while others can be unable to relax or get adequate lubrication during intercourse (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Some symptoms shared by males and females include lack of desire, inability to get stimulated or the feeling of pain.
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Although these symptoms can manifest in different ways, they are not always of the same origin. However, any sexual activity must be perceived as the cooperation between different systems of the body and part of life that is influential for all spheres of people’s life due to its strong impact on the psychological state (Zorn, 2016). The process of ejaculation, for instance, depends on the particular interrelation between nerves and muscles (Zorn, 2016). Such coordination is strongly dependent on the medical, sexual, and psychological history of the patient.
Faubion and Rullo (2015) report that sexual dysfunctions among females are rarely caused by one factor. Instead, the disorders usually are multifactorial. Therefore, it is necessary to address biological, psychological, social, and relational factors comprehensively when investigating the problem (Faubion & Rullo, 2015). The most widely spread problems of females include sexual interest disorder, orgasmic disorder, and penetration disorder. Nevertheless, the symptoms are defined as dysfunctions only if they lead to distress (Faubion & Rullo, 2015). However, such a situation is not uncommon for the U.S. According to the statistics, 12% of American women are diagnosed with sexual dysfunction while 40% report sexual concerns that do not lead to distress (Faubion & Rullo, 2015, p. 281).
The sexuality of the adults is predetermined by seven components. They include gender, sexual orientation, intention, desire, arousal, physical and emotional satisfaction (Montgomery, 2008). All of these aspects can alter with the change of life cycle and variations in the physiological, developmental, and psychological states. Sexual disorders can be caused by physical and psychological factors. The physical reasons may include such medical conditions as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological or hormonal misbalance, and kidney or liver failure since they do not allow the body to function properly (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Alcoholism and drug-abusing can also lead to negative consequences for all organs, including reproductive ones.
In addition, the psychological disorder and the side effects of antidepressants must be considered as the negative factors affecting sexual function among men and women of different ages. Apart from the above-mentioned medical conditions, aging, malnourishment, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, lack of time may cause testosterone to decrease (Zorn, 2016). Erectile dysfunction is dependent on the age of the patient even stronger. The statistics show that it is a common problem for 18% of men aged 50-59 and for 37% of men age 70-75 (Zorn, 2016). The underlying causes can vary from the neurological ones to vascular, hormonal, pharmacological, and psychiatric (Zorn, 2016).
The psychological causes are not less influential. Although it is believed that emotionality is more important for women when sex is considered, it is equally vital for both genders. Work-related stresses, anxiety, sexual performance-related concerns, problems in a relationship, depressive conditions, worries about appearance, and the past sexual trauma can hurt men as well as women (Zorn, 2016). Finally, such factors as fear of bad performance, stress, and loss of feelings for the partner are important. In addition, the female dysfunction is strongly associated with the non-compatibility with a partner. In particular, Witting et al. (2008) emphasize that female orgasmic disorders are strongly connected to the little foreplay or non-correspondence in terms of some other factors.
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It is definitely true that the main step on the way to treatment of any disorder is a correct diagnosis. Sexual dysfunction diagnosis relies primarily on the reports of the individuals about their feelings associated with sexual intercourse. In case there exists a problem with sexual desire, enjoyment or consequent state, the healthcare specialist has to analyze the history and the symptoms of a disorder (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). The next step is defining the accompanying medical conditions that can influence the person at the physiological level. Finally, the analysis of emotional problems and previous experiences is required (Cleveland Clinic, 2016).
As for the laboratory tests, they are rarely efficient to diagnose sexual dysfunctions, especially if done separately from the patient’s emotional state understanding. The evaluation of the psychological state is based on the discussion of the attitudes to sex, possible fears, concerns, positive and negative experiences (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Overall, understanding of the underlying causes of the problem is the main task of the clinician, who then must choose the effective treatment and provide appropriate recommendations.
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Sexual Dysfunction Treatment
The variety of reasons and different histories of the dysfunction development determine approaches to treatment to be adopted. Among such, there are medication, mechanical aids, sex therapy, behavioral treatments, psychotherapy and education (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Medications are commonly used as a remedy for the dysfunction caused by physiological conditions. For instance, the definite type of medications aimed to treat the hormone imbalance, diabetes, cardiac, vascular or other diseases can be harmful to the sexual functions of the individuals. Consequently, the change in medicine can be helpful in some cases.
In addition, the medication in the form of pills, creams or shots may also be used to improve the condition associated with erectile dysfunction or problems with ejaculations caused by hormone deficiencies (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, and avanafil might be prescribed to men to improve the sexual function and raise the blood flow to genitals (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). When dealing with females, the professionals offer estrogen to treat dyspareunia, which is caused by the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, bupropion, as the effective means to mitigate the side effects of antidepressants, testosterone, which is capable of improving the sexual functioning of menopausal women (Faubion & Rullo, 2015).
The males’ disturbances with erection can also be removed by means of mechanical aids, for example, vacuum devices or implants (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Some similar vacuum devices are also developed for women, but they are not so widely spread due to their expensiveness (Zorn, 2016). Some other types of erectile function treatment include transurethral therapy, intracavernous injection, penile vascular surgery, a prosthesis (Zorn, 2016). Dilators are also used by females in some cases (Cleveland Clinic, 2016).
Apart from the mechanical aids, the therapy is helpful to tackle the existing sexual problems. Very often, the couple therapy is applied (Zorn, 2016). The conversation improves understanding between the partners and allows the professional to offer possible solutions with regard to the existing problems (Zorn, 2016). Such therapy is particularly effective for the couples that have issues in their sexual life since communication is the foundation for a happy marital life and relations. Behavioral treatment is also an effective method to resolve psychologically-caused sexual dysfunctions (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). The techniques are particularly appropriate when the behavior of one of the partners is harmful to another, or the self-stimulation is the reason for the subsequent dysfunction (Cleveland Clinic, 2016).
Psychotherapy is also quite helpful to struggle with the problems with the sexual functions among men and women (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Paying particular attention to the emotional aspects and mutual understanding are the major strengths of this approach. Primarily, the past traumas, anxiety, fear, poor representation of self and other problematic feelings can be effectively treated with the help of the psychotherapy conducted by a skilled and experienced professional. For females, psychotherapy or sex therapy is appropriate to deal with psychological, relational, and sociocultural causes of sexual dysfunction (Faubion & Rullo, 2015).
These approaches can be used along with education on sexual health as the latter ensures that the patients understand the norm and deviation from it. Education and communication are the foundation of a healthy relationship (Cleveland Clinic, 2016). Therefore, these are important means to make people realize the main rules of behavior, the necessity of mutual support and communication to overcome possible obstacles. In particular, an open dialogue between the partners even without the professional involvement enables the couple to realize that the problem exists and, hence, becomes the first step on the way to overcoming barriers.
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To conclude, it is obvious that sexual dysfunctions can become an obstacle to building a happy relationship at various stages of life. They can manifest themselves in different ways and cause a lack of sexual desire, problems with arousal and orgasm as well as lead to sexual pain. For men, the common problems are associated with erectile function or ejaculation. As for women, they may experience the inability to reach orgasm or relax properly. Hence, some symptoms shared by males and females include the lack of desire, inability to get stimulated or painful feelings. Regardless of at what stage of sexual intercourse the dysfunctions appear, they are serious obstacles to getting pleasure as well as creating a healthy relationship.
While many people suffer from sexual dysfunctions, they fail to discuss it with their partner. It is one of the greatest challenges on the way to disorders treatment. All available remedies remain strongly dependent on human emotions and relationships with the partner. For this reason, the successful treatment of patients with sexual dysfunction may be provided by means of medication or mechanical aids. However, sex therapy, behavioral treatments, psychotherapy, and education are the essentials that should be used along with the above-mentioned methods. They ensure that the appropriate emotional connection between the partners is established.
Besides, they contribute to sharing the experiences and preventing the reoccurrence of a similar issue in the future. Therefore, the proper diagnosis and definition of the underlying causes for the condition are the main steps on the way to choosing the treatment. Nevertheless, the only communication between the partners results in a full recovery.