Premature / Delayed Ejaculation
Hypoactive Sexual Desire
Female Sexual Interest
Female Orgasmic Disorder
Genito-Pelvic Pain / Vaginismus
A number of sexual dysfunctions for both men and women may be rooted and exacerbated psychologically.
Both men and women can suffer from a variety of sexual dysfunctions. These disorders can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to enjoy or experience sex. Individuals who are affected may feel inadequate, depressed, frustrated, and often ashamed. Sexual dysfunctions in men include erectile disorder, male hypoactive sexual desire disorder, premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation. Dysfunctions in women include female sexual interest/arousal disorder, female orgasmic disorder, and genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder sometimes referred to as Vaginismus. All of these disorders may occur during the normal course of a person’s sex life, but they become diagnosable once they have been identified as persistent and recurring problems, usually marked by a period of at least 6 months. These disorders interfere with one or several stages within the sexual response cycle which constitute physiological and psychological components including desire, excitement or arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
Although a person’s age can account for some changes in sexual interest, frequency, and duration, an individual’s physical health can be a factor. Hormonal fluctuations and underlying medical conditions may affect any one of the sexual stages. For individuals who suspect or have ruled out underlying medical conditions, sex therapy may be an appropriate treatment.
Psychological and social factors can have a significant effect on our sex lives. For some individuals, earlier traumas including sexual abuse can provoke anxiety, fear, discomfort, and a number of mixed emotions preventing the pleasurable engagement of sexual activities. Underlying anxiety brought on by stress or depression highlighted by feelings of sadness, guilt, loss of interest, or loneliness or stress can also influence sex. Those in relationships may experience conflict which can inhibit sexual interest. Conflict may at times be direct, but may also build resentment over the course of years leading to a couple’s sexual disconnect. Feelings pertaining to one’s own self-worth, body, or comfort with touch may decrease our ability and interest to engage in sex. Religious beliefs and cultural messages may also deter our ability to embrace our own sexuality or welcome our partner in to share a healthy sexual connection.
Therapeutic techniques vary depending on the dysfunction, but therapy can often provide the necessary space to talk about our relation to sex through a non-judgemental lens. It may be helpful to untangle earlier sexual scripts which cloud our sexuality. Other times, therapy may explore the messages we tell ourselves during the act or help us become conscious of what we are actually feeling. Sex is an experience that requires a hollistic embodiment of mind, body and spirit, not just the functionality of our sexual organs.