According to a 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 43% of the females suffer from Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) while 47% of men can be expected to experience Erectile Dysfunction (ED) during a sexual encounter. It is also estimated that around 70% of couples have some problems with sexual functioning. With over half of the population experiencing problems in the bedroom, what are the current treatment options?
Sexual dysfunction can be caused by several different variables including psychosocial factors like upbringing, beliefs and values around sex. Dysfunction can also be brought on by physiological factors such as hormones, anatomy and illness. Treatment of sexually based problems is divided into four main categories including problems with desire, arousal, orgasm and/or pain. We will discuss the two main presenting problems in the population including desire disorders and difficulty achieving orgasm.
Sexual desire disorder is a growing problem being presented to practicing sex therapists and physicians. Sexual desire is clinically defined as “a person who has neither positive nor negative feelings about sexual expression” and could “take it or leave it”. Despite these feelings, many suffering from low sexual desire alternatively feel frustration, sadness and or guilt about their feelings around sex. Often when relationships begin, being sexual comes naturally because the atmosphere is highly arousing and new. When a desire disorder is present, it can spell trouble for your sex life and create problems. It has been said that when sex is working it is 10% of a relationship but when it isn’t it can be up to 90%.
Treatment options considered for desire problems include three basic parts; Awareness of the problem, insight and understanding of desire disorders and behavior changes. Becoming aware that a problem exists is the first step. Individuals need to define amongst themselves what is “normal” for them in terms of a sex life. Insight of the problem can include thinking differently about being sexual, or talking about feelings within the relationship that could be contributing to the problem. Behavioral changes around sex may include being put in charge of initiating to reduce anxiety about sex or being given permission to be sexual in a relationship or while dating. Finally, looking at biological factors such as testosterone and estrogen could be a part of treatment. Often times, problems with desire can disappear as quickly as they appeared simply by taking inventory on what is contributing to the low desire and making simple changes.
Difficulty with orgasm is also a troubling situation for both sexes. It is estimated that around 30% of women and around 5% of men suffer not being able to be orgasmic when sexual. This situation can be very difficult and embarrassing for a couple to deal with but is often treatable using simplistic interventions. While in a new relationship, not being able to perform creates feelings of frustration as well as confusion for both parties.
Treatment options for orgasmic problems include an in depth look at the history of the individual. Often, the story reveals good reason as to why they cannot achieve orgasm. Many times the messages around sex growing up were negative and that has created a platform for being tense, feeling guilt or holding back when sexual. Treatment includes reshaping sexual attitudes as well as embracing sex as an ingredient in a relationship. It is also important to note that an individual may not be functioning sexually because they aren’t sure how. Masturbation plays an important role in learning what feels good and ultimately, what leads to orgasm. Finally, talking with your partner about how to create a “no pressure environment” to relax and focus on sensation rather than “final result” when intimate can help the dysfunction disappear.
In the end, sexual dysfunction can be embarrassing as well as frustrating for both genders alike. With more of the population experiencing sexual troubles at some point, sexual dysfunction is more “normal” than one might think. Although it may seem as if the problem could never be fixed, consulting with a trained sex therapist or your family physician can offer alternatives that will contribute to a more fulfilling and relaxing sexual experience
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