Sexuality is a complex process, coordinated by the neurologic, vascular and endocrine systems. Individually, sexuality incorporates family, societal and religious beliefs, and is altered with aging, health status and personal experience. In addition, sexual activity incorporates interpersonal relationships, each partner bringing unique attitudes, needs and responses into the coupling. A breakdown in any of these areas may lead to sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunctions cover a wide variety of problems, including erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature or delayed ejaculation, but also problems with sexual desire (libido) and response.  Men over age 65 are at higher risk for ED, although ED is not a normal part of aging. Decreased sexual desire is the most common complaint among men, affecting up to 43% of the population.  The problem may be psychological, physical, or a combination of both.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Premature or delayed ejaculation in men
  • Erectile dysfunction (not being able to achieve or maintain an erection)
  • Lack or loss of sexual desire
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Difficulty having an orgasm

What Causes It?:

Sexual dysfunction can be temporary or long-lasting. Causes of sexual disorders vary and may include:

  • Age 65 and over in men
  • Some prescription medications, including some antidepressants
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Drug abuse
  • Depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues
  • Stressful life events
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease

Treatment Options:

If sexual dysfunction is caused by depression, antidepressants may help.

Erectile dysfunction -- Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) can treat erectile dysfunction but may have potentially serious side effects in some men. Vasodilators (drugs that dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow) may be injected into the penis. Vacuum devices may also be used. Vascular surgery or an implant in the penis may help if the problem does not respond to other treatment.

Sexual dysfunction caused by decreased circulation, hormonal imbalance, depression, or anxiety may be helped by alternative therapies.

Click to Learn More: