Treating Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women - Inside Rx
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Health Tips

Treating Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women

02/22/2022

Sexual dysfunction is common among men and women. However, treating sexual dysfunction in men and women can vary quite a bit. We’ve put together a resource for treatment options for all.

Both men and women are prone to experiencing sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. More women than men experience sexual dysfunction in the United States: 63% of women versus 52% of men are living with sexual dysfunction at any given time.

The stigma surrounding problems in bed can make it difficult for adults to seek treatment. However, treatment options are readily available and include lifestyle changes, counseling, and medications.

Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women

In women, sexual dysfunction can develop as pain or dryness in the vagina, problems reaching orgasm, or low sex drive. Men may develop erectile dysfunction, problems with ejaculation, or low sex drive.

Certain physical and psychological conditions can cause sexual problems. Men and women with diabetes, high blood pressure, hormonal changes, obesity, or nerve damage may be at a higher risk of sexual dysfunction than others. Psychological causes of sexual dysfunction include depression and anxiety.

In addition, certain medications can cause sexual problems. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed antidepressants known for causing low sex drive, among other sexual problems.

Treating Sexual Dysfunction

There are different ways to treat sexual dysfunction. Working with a healthcare provider is often the best way to start treating sexual problems. A physical examination and lab test may be recommended to pinpoint any underlying causes or conditions in some cases. Non-pharmacological methods like lifestyle changes, and medical treatments like medications, are often recommended to treat sexual problems.

Non-pharmacological treatments

Lifestyle changes

A healthcare provider may recommend changing lifestyle habits to treat sexual dysfunction. Limiting alcohol use can help with sexual problems since alcohol use can affect sex drive, orgasm, and maintaining an erection. Using relaxation techniques can help decrease stress and anxiety that may be causing performance issues. Regular exercise can help stimulate blood flow and regulate mood to ease sexual problems.

Open communication

Being open and communicating with your partner may help relieve any pent-up stress. An open discussion about likes and dislikes can help improve intimacy between you and your partner.

Counseling

A therapist or counselor can help partners work through any relationship problems causing sexual dysfunction. They may recommend techniques to enhance intimacy, improve sexual skills, and understand any barriers getting in the way of sexual satisfaction.

Medications

PDE5 inhibitors

Otherwise known as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, PDE5 inhibitors help improve blood flow to the penis. These medications are FDA-approved to treat erectile dysfunction.

PDE5 inhibitors include Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Stendra (avanafil). While not approved for sexual dysfunction in women, studies have shown that sildenafil may benefit women with low sex drive.

Addyi (flibanserin)

Addyi is an FDA-approved oral medication that treats sexual arousal disorder in women. It can help improve sex drive when taken daily. Addyi contains flibanserin, which works on serotonin receptors to increase sex drive.

Vyleesi (bremelanotide)

Vyleesi is an injectable medication approved to treat low sex drive in women. It is injected once before engaging in sexual activity. The exact way in which Vyleesi works is unknown. Around 25% of women using Vyleesi experienced an increase of 1.2 or more in their “sexual desire score” compared to approximately 17% of women using a placebo.

Other treatments

In severe cases, other treatments may be recommended, including hormone therapy, devices, and even surgery. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss any concerns about sexual dysfunction before starting treatment.

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