Believe it or not, sexual health is directly related to your overall health for everyone. In fact, people who have difficulty in having sex are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Poor sexual health can impact both – the ability to recreate (pleasure sex) and procreate (reproduce) to have children. Also, you might experience sexual dysfunction if you have an underlying health condition.
Obesity, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, high blood pressure, hormonal disturbances, liver and kidney diseases, mental health issues like anxiety depression or guilt, alcohol, smoking, and substance abuse ( drugs) reduce sexual performance in both men and women. Some medications taken for psychological diseases and high blood pressure can also cause sexual dysfunction.
Types of sexual dysfunction
This is categorised into four types:
- Desire disorder: Lack of interest in sex
- Arousal disorder: Inability to be aroused
- Orgasm disorder: Absent or delayed orgasm
- Pain disorder: Pain during intercourse
Sexual dysfunction is more common in men and women over the age of 40 years.
How to identify sexual dysfunction?
The symptoms may vary one person to another, and one gender to another. Having said that, here are the symptoms of sexual dysfunction you should know:
Symptoms in men include:
- No or poor erection, also known as erectile dysfunction
- Absent or delayed ejaculation
- Premature ejaculation
Symptoms in women include:
- Lack of orgasm
- Vaginal dryness during intercourse
- Frigidity – Inability to have intercourse due to tight vaginal muscles
Common symptoms in both men and women are
Lifestyle disease that lead to sexual dysfunction
We are seeing a pandemic of lifestyle diseases. Sedentary habits, high calorie food intake, and stress are contributing to these problems.
Excess fat accumulation can lead to poor efforts during sex. In obese men, low testosterone causes erectile dysfunction, reduced desire, and poor orgasm. Obesity causes hormonal disturbances in women, which reduces desire and increases discomfort during intercourse. A poor body image can reduce confidence and negatively impact intimacy.
2. Cardiovascular disease
High blood pressure and heart diseases reduce sexual performance. These reduce blood flow to the penis which is responsible for erection. In women, reduced flow to genital organs leads to vaginal dryness, poor arousal, and orgasm. This leads to poor sexual satisfaction.
Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, leading to erectile dysfunction, poor desire in men, and reduced orgasm in women.
4. Mental health disorders
Depression, anxiety and stress all affect sexual function by reducing desire, causing poor arousal, low confidence and strained relationships. Professional counselling, relaxation techniques and tailored medications will help improve sexual function.
How to treat sexual dysfunction?
It is important to identify lifestyle diseases early and reduce the risk by eating healthy, doing regular exercises, avoiding stress and taking appropriate treatment for the diseases.
Other treatments include medications for erectile dysfunction in men and for improving desire in pre-menopausal women. Mechanical aids like vacuum devices and penile implants can be used for erectile dysfunction. Vaginal dilators can help women with narrow vagina. Vibrators can increase enjoyment and orgasm. Sex therapy, psychotherapy, and self-stimulation techniques can benefit many.