Pronounced: sigh-co-sex-u-al dis-funk-shon
Psychosexual dysfunction is the inability to become sexually aroused or achieve sexual satisfaction in the appropriate situations because of mental or emotional reasons.
Although psychosexual dysfunction is not life threatening, it can have a major effect on your relationships and self-esteem.
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:
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Reduced sexual desire or activity is common among women and men. Before treatment can begin, it is necessary to determine whether the dysfunction may be caused by physical causes like diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism, heavy smoking, side effects of medications, or hormonal problems. Only sexual dysfunction due to psychological factors is called psychosexual dysfunction.
Factors that may increase your chances of developing psychosexual dysfunction include:
Symptoms of psychosexual disorder may differ for men and women.
Symptoms for men include:
Symptoms for women include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, and your sexual history. A physical exam will be done. Make sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking. Your doctor may also ask questions about your partner.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
You may have a psychological assessment. This can be done with:
Men may have tests done to assess erection ability. This can be done with:
Women may have additional tests done, such as:
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. However, to successfully manage psychosexual dysfunction, it is important to treat and manage mental and emotional issues.
Treatment options for psychosexual dysfunction include the following:
Medications may be prescribed to treat the symptoms, such as hormone therapy or medications used to treat psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression.
Medications for erectile dysfunction can also be tried in men.
Psychotherapy allows you to 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 communication, 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:
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychological Association
Sex Information and Education Council of Canada
AACE male sexual dysfunction task force. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of male sexual dysfunction: a couple’s problem–2003 update. Endocrine Practice. 2003; 9(1):77-94.
Crenshaw TL, Goldberg JP, et al. Pharmacologic modification of psychosexual dysfunction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 1987;13(4):239-252.
Cutler SJ, Smith W, et al. Treatment of sexual dysfunction. US Pharmacist. 2002;23(5).
Female sexual problems. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website. Available at:
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Accessed May 23, 2014.
Glass CA. Addressing psychosexual dysfunction in neurological rehabilitation settings. Journal of Mental Health. 1995;4(3).
Phillips NA. Female sexual dysfunction: evaluation and treatment. American Family Physician. 2000;62(1):127-136.
Reiner WG, Gearhart JP, et al. Psychosexual dysfunction in males with genital anomalies: Late adolescence, Tanner states IV to VI, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 1999;38(7):865-872.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 05/23/2014