Sexual dysfunction is/are the problem/s that a person may experience during any phase of the sexual response cycle. This prevents the person or the couple from experiencing any satisfaction from sexual activities. The different facets of the sexual response cycle include excitement, orgasm, plateau and resolution. Research has shown that about 43 % of women and 31 % of men suffer from some sort of sexual dysfunction.
There are 4 different types of sexual dysfunction. They are – desire disorder which implies that a person has little or no interest in any kind of sexual activities; arousal disorder means when a person is emotionally ready for sex but the body refuses to cooperate; orgasm disorder occurs when a person is emotionally ready for sex but is not being able to reach climax and pain disorder means a person is experiencing pain during the act.
The treatment for sexual dysfunction in men can involve the use of oral medicines. Other treatments are mechanical methods like vacuum pumps and constriction rings, local therapies like suppositories and injections and surgical methods like penile implants. For women, there can be non-medical treatments like counseling, reverting to a healthy lifestyle, use of lubricants or devices like vibrators. Women with low sexual desire are often recommended a medicine called flibanserin. When female sexual dysfunction is linked to hormonal problems, estrogen therapy or androgen therapy is generally recommended.
Mechanical methods like the use of vacuum pumps help to treat sexual dysfunction in 50-75 % of the cases. The device is to be used by a man on his penis to expand it temporarily. This device is particularly useful for people with diabetes. Constriction rings are used to treat sexual disorder in those men who get an erection but fail to sustain it throughout the intercourse. This condition is called early detumescence and can be cured by placing a rubber ring at the base of the penis after erection.
Local therapies involve the use of pellets which are inserted into the tip of the penis with a pre-filled applicator. This therapy is mostly beneficial for people with diabetes. Another local therapy is the injection therapy whereby the shaft of the penis of the patient is injected with a drug which helps to produce an erection.
Penile implants are one of the oldest methods of treating erectile dysfunction in men. Some doctors may even go for vascular surgery to repair the blood vessels and increase the blood flow to the penis.
For females suffering from sexual dysfunction, healthy communication with her partner, healthy lifestyle habits, counseling or physical use of vaginal lubricants and use of devices that stimulate the clitoris are some of the non-medical treatment options. In women, sexual dysfunction treatment often involves the addressing of some medical condition or hormonal change. Treatment of sexual dysfunction due to hormonal changes can be done with estrogen therapy which involves use of vaginal ring, tablet or cream. Another method of treatment is androgen therapy which involves the use of testosterone.
Any person can suffer from sexual dysfunction but it generally tends to occur in aging people. A person can undergo treatment for sexual dysfunction if he/she suffers from the symptoms associated with the condition. The symptoms that a man can experience are inability to maintain or achieve an erection, delayed or no ejaculation even with adequate sexual stimulation and inability to control the timing of ejaculation.
The symptoms in women are the inability to achieve orgasm, inability to relax the vaginal muscles to allow intercourse and inadequate vaginal lubrication before and during intercourse. Moreover, men and women both lose interest in sex, experience pain during intercourse and have problems getting aroused.
Sexual dysfunction occurs when a person is unable to achieve satisfaction while indulging in sexual activities. The doctor will look at the entire medical history of a patient and even perform a physical test to find out if a person is actually suffering from this condition. A doctor will generally find out about the person’s attitude towards sex as well as other contributing factors like fear, anxiety, past sexual trauma, medications, personal issues and if the person was addicted to any drug or alcohol. After thorough evaluation of these factors, the doctor will understand whether a person is eligible for treatment or not.
Constriction rings are usually safe but may cause pain, numbness and cold sensation in the area for some people. A person should consult a doctor if he has sickle-cell disease, heart disease or if he is on blood thinning medication. A penile vacuum pump may cause small red dots to appear on the skin, can cause pain or bruising, and even give a feeling of numbness or coldness. Prostaglandin E1is injected into the shaft of the penis in injection therapy. The side-effects may include persistent erection and scarring of the male sex organ. Use of the same drug in the form of pellets may cause aching or burning in the penis and minor bleeding.
The side-effects of estrogen therapy include bloating, bleeding from the vagina, nausea, headache, indigestion and others. Some of the side effects of androgen therapy may be weight gain, acne, frequent mood changes, breast development and problems with urine flow.
After undergoing penile implant surgery, a person will experience mild pain for several weeks. A person will need to take antibiotics for about a week after the surgery to avoid infection. Strenuous physical and sexual activities should also be avoided for a few weeks. The doctor might also ask the patient to inflate and deflate the inflatable penile implants twice a day so that he gets used to using them. There are, however, no such post-treatment guidelines for treatment via mechanical methods. One may experience pain after the use of constriction rings. He should immediately go and see a doctor.
The penile implantation procedure may cause bruises on the organ and can also make the scrotum to swell. However, the swelling and pain disappears after about 14 days with the help of several warm baths per day. Hormone therapy in women is generally done over a few months time and may even take years. Hormones should be used for treatment for the shortest period of time but a woman needs to check every 3-6 months whether she needs to continue with the therapy or not.
Medications for hormone therapy are available for as low as Rs 100 for a week. However, the entire procedure starting from the diagnosis to the therapy may cost between Rs 1, 00,000 – Rs 2, 50,000. Constriction rings are available within the price range of Rs 300 – Rs 900. Vacuum pumps to treat erectile dysfunction cost something around Rs 19,500 and Rs 32,500.
Use of constriction rings and vacuum pumps are temporary measures that help to spruce up your conjugal life temporarily. They do not provide a permanent solution. Surgical methods like penis implants may provide a longer-lasting effect but there are chances of some side-effects too. Hormonal therapy in women may help to deal with sexual dysfunction on a long-term basis. However, the therapy should have to be continued if the situation demands.
Women respond well to counseling sessions. Instead of going for hormone therapy or taking medications, a woman can talk to a counselor about how to enhance intimacy with her partner, how to optimize the body’s sexual response and what exercises to do. For men, Panax ginseng and Rhodiola rosea works well to treat erectile dysfunction. DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is a remedy for erectile dysfunction in men with concurrent diabetes. Acupuncture can also help to deal with sexual dysfunction.