Sexual Dysfunction FAQs

If medical issues are affecting your sexual health, Mercy can help. Learn more about what causes these conditions.

What’s sexual dysfunction?

Usually, the sexual response cycle includes excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Sexual dysfunction can affect this cycle.

The four categories of sexual dysfunction are:

  • Desire disorders – Lack of desire or interest in sex
  • Arousal disorders – Inability to become aroused or excited during sexual activity
  • Orgasm disorders – Delay or absence of orgasm (climax)
  • Pain disorders – Pain during intercourse

Share any concerns about your sexual health with your Mercy doctor. 

What causes sexual dysfunction?

  • Medical problems – Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, neurological disorders, kidney or liver failure, alcohol or substance use and medications can affect sexual function.
  • Psychological problems – Stress, anxiety, depression, sexual performance concerns, relationship problems, body image concerns and past trauma can affect sexual health. 

What’s sexual dysfunction in MS?

About 40-80% of women and 50-90% of men with MS experience sexual dysfunction. Symptoms may include decreased sensation, desire and vaginal lubrication. MS may also cause ED and orgasm difficulty. 

What causes sexual dysfunction in women?

Physical issues, emotions, beliefs, experiences, relationships and lifestyles can affect women’s sexual health at any stage of life. Types of women’s sexual dysfunction include:

  • Low sexual desire – A lack of interest in sex
  • Sexual arousal disorder – Inability to become aroused or arousal difficulty during sex, even when desire is present
  • Orgasmic disorder – Ongoing difficulty with achieving orgasm after satisfactory arousal
  • Sexual pain disorder – Pain associated with sexual stimulation or vaginal contact

Is sexual dysfunction permanent?

Some types of sexual dysfunction can be resolved. For example, premature ejaculation can be sporadic and usually isn’t permanent. But medical care is required, so share any concerns with your Mercy doctor. 

How do you treat sexual dysfunction?

Treatment options include:

  • Behavioral treatments – Individual therapy offers behavioral insights and can help address sexual dysfunction.
  • Education and communication – Learning about sexual behaviors and responses can help, including talking with your partner.
  • Mechanical aids – Devices and implants may improve performance and satisfaction. Ask your Mercy doctor for more information.
  • Medication or medication changes – For men, drugs like sildenafil (Viagra®) increase blood flow to the penis. For women, hormone therapy boosts sexual function, and medications can treat premenopausal desire issues. If a medication side effect causes sexual dysfunction, ask your doctor about other options.
  • Psychotherapy – Mercy mental health professionals treat a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues, including trauma, anxiety, fear, guilt, body image disorders and many others.
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