Sexuality is a complex process, coordinated by neurologic, vascular and endocrine systems. Sexuality incorporates family, societal and religious beliefs, and often gets changes with aging, health status and personal experience. Sexual activity also integrates interpersonal relationships, unique attitudes and needs of partners. A breakdown in any of these areas may lead to sexual dysfunction. A sexual dysfunction can be any issue during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing sexual satisfaction. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Most cases of sexual dysfunction are treatable. Sexual dysfunction may be effectively approached only through proper understanding of sexual functioning and application of general medical and gynecologic treatments to sexual issues. It includes understanding the complete patient history, conducting a physical examination, application of basic treatment strategies, providing patient education and reassurance, and recommending appropriate referral when indicated.
Sexual dysfunction can be temporary or long-lasting. Both men and women are affected by sexual problems. They can occur in adults of all ages. Due to decline in health associated with aging it commonly affects seniors. Sexual dysfunction can be a result of a physical or psychological problem. Sexual dysfunctions cover a wide variety of problems, including erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature or delayed ejaculation in men, spasms of the vagina, pain with sexual intercourse, and problems with sexual desire and response, difficulty having an orgasm and vaginal dryness.
Physical causes: Many physical and/or medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, and hormonal disorders, chronic diseases such as kidney or liver failure, and alcoholism and drug abuse. In addition, lack of sexual desire and function manifests as side effects of certain medications.
Psychological causes: These include work-related stress and anxiety, depression, feelings of guilt, concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems and the effects of a past sexual trauma.