Last week we explored the little-discussed topic of sexual dysfunction in women. Continuing with our trend of gender-specific topics, in this blog, we are uncovering more information on the subject of male sexual dysfunction. While the treatment and exploration of sexual problems, in general, is still in its infancy, male sexual issues are a bit more developed than the female side. However, much like with sexual dysfunction in women, the causes can vary widely from the physical (a lack of blood flow) to the psychological (concerns of performance debilitating actual performance). Men can suffer from a range of disorders, all of which make sexual activity virtually or actually impossible. Despite the actual results differing, the conditions that these come from are extremely similar in origin to women.
Common causes of sexual dysfunction:Physical causes in males run an entire gamut of sources. Diabetes, heart and vascular disease, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases, alcoholism, and drug abuse can all contribute to the physical ceasing of sexual performance and even desire. Psychological causes range from stress and anxiety commonly found in overworked patients, concerns about sexual performance resulting in poor sexual performance, relationship problems, depression, guilt, and effects of past sexual trauma. All of these can individually, or in combination, have an effect strong enough on the body and mind to inhibit proper sexual function.While men and women do share common dysfunctions, such as lowered libido, some are exclusive to men. This is mostly due to the obvious inclusion of a different sexual organ, but some can be psychologically more predominant in men. Some of the more common are ejaculation disorders that vary in function, the well-known erectile dysfunction, and inhibited sexual desire. What is erectile dysfunction?Often shortened to “ED”, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to attain and/or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse. This can be caused by any of the factors listed in above but lies predominantly on the physical side. Most of these can be attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle or health diseases onset by age, genetics, or the aforementioned lifestyle. The most common causes for ED center around blood flow in the body and the circulatory system. Those that are obese, have heart disease, clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol, and/or abuse drugs/alcohol are much more likely to develop ED, especially as they age. The effects of aging also significantly reduce testosterone production, which can not only be a leading cause of ED, but lowered libido as well.
Note: How to test for ED
The presence of a physical ED condition is tested by blood tests, vascular assessments, sensory testing, nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity testing. The latter would help assess the natural process of erections at night to distinguish if the issue is physical or psychological.
Inhibited Sexual DesireInhibited sexual desire stands as one of the most commonly found sexual dysfunctions in both men and women. It is defined as a decrease in desire for, or interest in, sexual activity. This dysfunction is significantly more prevalent in older males and females, as age and health are often negatively correlated with sexual desire. A marker for the age in which this decline begins is the age range for menopause in women (about 48-55 years in the US), which is roughly the same time testosterone begins to dwindle significantly in men.
The lowered testosterone production in men, coupled with the negative effects of poor diet and health, can result in a critical blow to sexual desire and function. Fortunately, we are beginning to become more health conscious as a whole, and the concept of needing our bodies at peak performance is ideal for overall happiness. With a few exceptions, such as unavoidable diseases brought on by genetics, we can now considerably reverse the effects that age and poor health choices can have on our sex lives. Treatments exist that cover entire realms of psychological and physiological sources.
TreatmentsThe most widely known treatment for the most widely known dysfunction is, of course, Viagra (along with Cialis and Levitra). These three names are the brand names of three drugs designed to increase blood flow to the penis. While these treatments have been shown to be extremely effective, they are generally on a spot treatment, and their effects wane after their single use.Long term effective treatments are designed to more fully correct the problems a man is experiencing with the ultimate goal of returning him to a normal state of function. These treatments vary depending on the discovered cause but range from psychological therapy and communication therapy to large diet changes and testosterone replacement therapy. Hormone therapy is the longest used form of treatment. Testosterone is central in the male sexual response, including the desire for sex and the mechanics of triggering an erection. It has also been proven to increase sexual function, along with the standard benefits that come with balanced testosterone (increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased bone mass). Because males begin to produce less and less testosterone once they get older, a lowered or lack of sex drive is very likely to follow. This makes it incredibly important to be aware of your testosterone and other important hormone levels. Don’t be left in the dark on your own equilibrium!
For more information on sexual dysfunction and its treatment, as well as all things hormone-related, be sure to check out our website or call us at (225) 960-1580.