Sexual Dysfunction and Disorder
Sexual dysfunction is a disorder that prevents the individuals and/or couple from achieving complete sexual satisfaction due to an organic or an inorganic alteration in the sexual cycle. In simple words, an inability to achieve sexual gratification due to an acute or chronic health issue or psycho-social problem is referred to as sexual dysfunction.
Normal Sexual Cycles
Clinicians explains that there are four phases of a normal sexual cycle; these are:
- Excitement Phase which begins with the onset of sexual desires to complete arousal (marked by elevation in the heart rate, increased circulation of blood to the genitals and flushing of skin).
- Plateau Phase constitutes; peaking of arousal, initiation of the act of intercourse and a sustained state of pleasure under the influence of chemical mediators and hormones.
- Orgasm Phase marks the rapid spike in the pleasure and sexual gratification, which is preceded or followed by ejaculation in males and rhythmic contraction of vaginal muscles in females.
- Resolution Phase marks the completion of the act of intercourse and is followed by return of the heart rate to basal levels.
It is imperative to keep in mind that sexual dysfunction may occur with an acute or chronic discrepancy in any of the above listed phases. According to a new study, the incidence of sexual dysfunction increases with advancing age and is fairly common in both males and females. Approximately 20 – 30% of all males and 40 – 45% of all females experience at least one manifestation of sexual dysfunction after the age of 30 years (1)
Sexual Dysfunction and Quality of Life
Moderate to severe sexual dysfunction can significantly alter the quality of life and relationships. It is highly recommended to seek immediate and emergent medical advice as accurate and proper diagnosis can prove useful in most cases. In addition, it is also very important to talk to your sexual partner, since stress and psychological issues are best dealt with proper communication and psychological counseling. Other helpful tips to prevent and/ or manage sexual dysfunction are:
- Seek appropriate medical help if the cause of sexual dysfunction is a chronic medical condition such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis etc.
- Maintain proper dietary intake of healthy nutrients especially antioxidants such as vitamin A, E, C and K in addition to micronutrients such as zinc, selenium and calcium.
- Maintain normal body weight since obesity or metabolic dysfunction can also present with sexual dysfunction.
- Maintain abstinence from harmful drugs, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
Sexual dysfunction in women and men will be discussed separately in the next following days.
- Lewis, R. W., Fugl‐Meyer, K. S., Bosch, R., Fugl‐Meyer, A. R., Laumann, E. O., Lizza, E., & Martin‐Morales, A. (2004). Epidemiology/risk factors of sexual dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine, 1(1), 35-39.