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A sexual problem is something that keeps sex from being satisfying or positive. Most people have symptoms of a sexual problem at one time or another. For some, the symptoms are ongoing. But your symptoms are only a sexual problem if they bother you or cause problems in your relationship.
There is no "normal" level of sexual response. It's different for everyone. You may also find that what's normal at one stage of your life changes at another stage. For example, it's common for an exhausted parent of a baby to have little interest in sex. And it's common for people to have lower sex drives as they age.
When there's a problem in either the emotional or physical part of your life, you can have sexual problems. Things like stress, anxiety, and depression can be a cause. So can relationship problems. Other causes include an injury or disease, aging, and taking certain medicines. But sometimes a cause isn't found.
Symptoms of sexual problems can include not being interested in sex or having trouble getting sexually excited or reaching orgasm. Sex may also be painful. But symptoms are problems only if they bother you or cause problems in your relationship with a partner.
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health problems and the medicines you take. You'll be asked about your sexual history and for details about your sexual problem. Your doctor may also do a physical examination and order tests.
Treatment for a sexual problem depends on the cause. It may include treating a health problem. For example, you may take hormones or change medicines that cause sexual problems. You may also get a counselling-based therapy. These include counselling for you and your partner, psychological therapy, and sex therapy.
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Your sexuality is a mixture of mental, emotional, and physical signals. A problem in one area can grow to involve other areas. Sometimes a cause isn't found.
Some common causes include:
These include stress, anxiety, and depression. Other causes include relationship problems, fear, and a history of sexual abuse or sexual assault (rape). Being unhappy about your body can also be a cause.
These include hormone problems, pain from an injury, and other problems. Certain conditions such as diabetes or arthritis can also cause sexual problems.
During sexual arousal, blood normally swells areas of the vulva. If those areas aren't stimulated enough, you may not feel as much sexual pleasure.
This can cause changes in the vagina, such as dryness.
As you age, your sexual desire may decrease.
Some medicines may lower sexual desire and arousal. These include certain medicines for depression, anxiety, and seizures.
Being sexually active (alone or with a partner) helps keep your vagina healthy. You can take the following steps to help prevent sexual problems.
Symptoms of sexual problems can include:
These symptoms are problems only if they bother you or cause problems in your relationship with a partner.
Most people have symptoms of a sexual problem at times. But sexual response is different for everyone. And what's normal at one stage of your life may change at another stage. It's common to have a lower sex drive as you age. But many causes of sexual problems can be treated.
Call a doctor now if you have sudden, severe pelvic pain.
Call your doctor for an appointment if:
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you improve on your own, you won't need treatment. If you don't improve, you and your doctor will decide what to do next.
During watchful waiting, you might try home treatment, such as lubrication and exercises to stimulate sexual desire.
Maintaining honest and frequent communications with your doctor will help you decide if you need medical treatment.
Your doctor will work with you to identify your symptoms and will:
Some people are embarrassed to talk about sexual problems. It may help to remember that a sexual problem is no different than any other health problem. There's usually a treatment that will help.
Treatment will depend on the cause and the type of sexual problem you're having. Treatment may include:
It's important to feel comfortable talking with your doctor. What works for one person may not work for another. So the more you can tell your doctor, the more the doctor will be able to help you.
You can try a number of things that may help your sexual problems. These include:
You may be able to increase your sexual desire and arousal with:
Lack of lubrication in the vagina is the most common cause of pain with sex. Products that may help include Astroglide and K-Y Jelly.
These can help increase sexual arousal and improve orgasm. They include Kegel exercises and vaginal weights.
Medicines may be used to treat certain conditions that contribute to sexual problems. These medicines include:
Treatment for sexual problems can include various kinds of therapies. The best ones for you depend on the cause of your sexual problem. Sex counsellors and therapists are trained to help people with sexual issues. Therapies may include:
These can help you communicate with your partner.
This treatment helps you and your partner work through problems as a team.
This can help you gain control of symptoms that produce anxiety, such as fear or poor self-esteem.
This may include techniques to help you express your sexual needs with confidence.
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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