Patient Care

Sexual Dysfunction

What is Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual Dysfunction in men / women refers to disturbance in any component of the physiological sexual response cycle. Changes may be seen in desire, arousal, performance (particularly in men) and / or orgasmic response.

The common problems affecting males include erectile and ejaculatory dysfunctions. In women, pain disorders such as vaginismus (involuntary muscle spasm of the vaginal wall preventing intercourse) and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) are important concerns.

Sexual Dysfunction can be caused by:

Psychological Causes
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Fears
  • Depression
  • Early history of sexual abuse
Physical / Organic Causes
  • Vascular / neurological / metabolic problems - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atherosclerosis, obesity, aging related changes
  • Hormonal disturbances: menopause, andropause
  • Penile injuries, deformities (such as Peyronie's)
  • Prostatic, lower urinary tract problems
  • Prescription drugs, alcohol, smoking, substance abuse
  • Allergic reaction to soaps, creams, douches (in women)
What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Optimal strength of erection is necessary for penetration and successful intercourse. Failure of penetration due to lack of penile strength is considered as Erectile Dysfunction or impotence.

If a man is unable to get an erection, it could be due to physical and life style factors (such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or heavy smoking) or psychological factors due to stress, interpersonal/intimacy issues with partner, performance anxiety in man or female dysfunction such as vaginismus.

Getting softer soon after achieving an erection is inability to sustain an erection; this condition could be due to difficulty in maintain arousal state or swift return of the engorging blood from penis back to the body.

Healthy men with positive attitudes towards sexuality are known to enjoy sexual health to the ripe old age. However, diseases, physical disability, hormonal changes as one ages and ageing itself can compromise erectile function.

For men who are suffering from Erectile Dysfunction, the best solution is to seek a professional consultation who can advise on the use of well-established medications like viagra, cialis or levitra.

What are the treatment options for Sexual Dysfunction?

The treatment depends on the type of Sexual Dysfunction. Organic precipitating factors need to be appropriately treated.

For Erectile Dysfunction in men, the currently available drugs containing active compounds such as sildenafil, vardenafil or tadalafil are useful; these drugs act by increasing the blood flow to the penis through important cellular pathways. Other management options include intra-penile injections and vacuum devices.

For premature ejaculation, the common type of ejaculatory dysfunction (30%), topical anaesthetic creams and certain centrally-acting drugs are useful.

Testosterone is helpful in improving desire and libido - both in men and women.

Women with vaginal dryness may find relief with topical gels and hormone containing creams. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is useful for post-menopausal women.

Couple therapy and counselling are other important management options.

How is Sexual Dysfunction prevented?

To prevent Sexual Dysfunction, identify and treat the predisposing conditions.

Some tips include:

  • Prevention and active management of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis
  • Choosing prescription drugs without sexual side effects
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs
  • Improve physical fitness
  • Lifestyle changes and stress management
  • Open communication, resolving conflicts and relationship issues
Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

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