Pronounced: sigh-co-sex-u-al dis-funk-shon
The inability to become sexually aroused or achieve sexual satisfaction in the appropriate situations because of mental or emotional (also known as psychological) reasons. No physical problems, specific illnesses, or medication side effects appear to cause the problem.
Although psychosexual dysfunction is not life threatening, it can have a major effect on your relationships and self-esteem. This condition is treatable; contact your doctor if you think you may have psychosexual dysfunction.
Psychosexual dysfunction is a sexual dysfunction that is due to psychological causes rather than physical problems, medical illnesses, or the side effects of medication.
Some of the psychological conditions include:
Reduced sexual desire or activity is very common among women and men. Often, the condition is treatable, but first it is necessary to determine whether the dysfunction is caused by physical causes (such as diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism, heavy smoking, side effects of medications (a very common cause of decreased libido or desire), or hormonal problems or psychological causes. Only sexual dysfunction due to psychological factors is called psychosexual dysfunction.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chances of developing psychosexual dysfunction. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
Symptoms of psychosexual disorder may differ for men and women.
Symptoms for men include:
Symptoms for women include:
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to psychosexual dysfunction. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, and your sexual history. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam. Make sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking. Your doctor may also ask questions about your partner.
Tests may include the following:
If your doctor does not find anything significant from the examination or these tests, your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. The most appropriate treatment will depend on the cause of the psychosexual dysfunction.
Some medications can alleviate the symptoms (for example, medications to alleviate erectile dysfunction or to help overcome vaginal dryness). However, to successfully manage psychosexual dysfunction, it is important to treat and manage the mental and emotional issues that underlie the problem.
Treatment options for psychosexual dysfunction include the following:
Medications may be prescribed to treat the symptoms. Medications differ for men and women.
You talk and work with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or licensed counselor to figure out ways to deals with stressful or painful issues.
Sex therapists assist you by encouraging communications, teaching you about sexual fantasies, and helping you focus on sexual stimuli.
A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or licensed counselor works with you to unlearn automatic behaviors.
Couples meet with a psychologist, social worker or other type of mental health professional to discuss issues, including communications problems.
There are no known ways to prevent psychosexual dysfunction.
To help reduce your chances of developing psychosexual dysfunction, take the following steps:
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychological Association
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
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Last reviewed December 2011 by Ryan Estevez, MD, PhD, MPH
Last Updated: 12/30/2011