Sexual dysfunction or sexual malfunction is defined as difficulty during any stage of the sexual act (which includes desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution) that prevents the individual or couple from enjoying sexual activity.
Sexual dysfunction includes desire, arousal, orgasmic, and sexual pain disorders, including dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and vaginismus (involuntary spasm of the muscles of the vaginal wall that interferes with intercourse). Estimates of the number of women who have sexual dysfunctions range from 19-50% of the normal population, and increase to 68-75% when sexual dissatisfaction or problems (not dysfunctional in nature) are included.
One in 10 men in the world has erectile dysfunction, and approximately 30 million men in the United States have erectile dysfunction.
Sexual difficulties can begin early in an individual's sex life or they may develop after an individual has previously experienced enjoyable and satisfying sex. Sexual dysfunctions are more common in the early adult years, with the majority of people seeking care for such conditions during their late 20s through their 30s. A problem may develop gradually over time, or may occur suddenly as a total or partial inability to participate in one or more stages of the sexual act.
The causes of sexual difficulties can be physical, psychological, or both.
Sexual dysfunction is more common in people who abuse alcohol and drugs. It is also more likely to occur in people suffering from health conditions such as circulatory disorders and lack of vaginal lubrication (common in women with hormonal changes such as pre-menstrual syndrome or menopause), diabetes, and degenerative neurological disorders. Sexual dysfunctions are also common among patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure. Ongoing psychological problems, difficulty maintaining relationships, or ongoing stress with the current sexual partner can also interfere with sexual function. The incidence increases again in the geriatric population, typically with gradual onset of symptoms that are associated most commonly with medical causes, such as circulatory disorders, of sexual dysfunction.
For both men and women, conditions of sexual dysfunction may appear as an aversion to, and avoidance of, sexual contact with a partner. In men, there may be partial or complete failure to attain or maintain an erection, or a lack of sexual excitement and pleasure in sexual activity.
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