How to Diagnose Sexual Dysfunction Disorder

Three Parts:Obtaining a DiagnosisDiagnosing Sexual Dysfunction in WomenDiagnosing Sexual Dysfunction in Men

Sexual dysfunction includes any problems that prevent a person or couple from achieving sexual satisfaction. Sexual dysfunction can occur at any point of the of the sexual response cycle, including arousal and desire, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. While many are shy to talk about sexual dysfunction, it’s surprisingly more common than you may think. About 31% of men experience sexual dysfunction, and 43% of women experience it.[1] Talk to a medical doctor if you are concerned you have a sexual dysfunction disorder in order to obtain a diagnosis and treatment.

Part 1
Obtaining a Diagnosis

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    Look into the categories of sexual disorder. While most everyone experiences nights of not being “in the mood”, disorders occur when problems occur regularly and impact the experience of sex. Think about when the problems occur and how they influence the experience of sex. The following are 4 different types of disorders:[2]
    • Desire disorder: This occurs when you have little or no interest in sex for an ongoing amount of time. For women, things like contraceptives can greatly lower or eliminate desire.[3]
    • Arousal disorder: Arousal disorder occurs when you want to have sex, yet your body does not respond.
    • Orgasm disorder: Your body and emotions may be engaged in sexual activity, yet you are unable to climax, which can leave you feeling frustrated.
    • Pain disorder: Pain disorder occurs when any part of sexual activity is painful, particularly intercourse.
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    Identify difficulties with orgasm. A lack of orgasm is called anorgasmia. Your provider may ask you questions about psychological and emotional factors that may cause anorgasmia, such as sexual inhibition, lack of experience, feelings of guilt or anxiety, or a history of sexual trauma or abuse. Some medications or chronic diseases can cause problems with arousal and orgasm.[4]
    • Sometimes anorgasmia can be helped with sufficient stimulation.
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    Identify the medical causes of sexual dysfunction. Stress if often a major culprit for sexual dysfunction. However, medical and psychological factors may affect sexual satisfaction. Diagnoses such as diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, and hormone imbalances can also cause sexual dysfunction.[5] Medication side-effects, drugs, and alcohol can also influence sex.[6]
    • If you’re above the age of 65, the likelihood of experiencing lower sexual response is increased.[7]
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    Discuss psychological causes. There are some sexual problems that can result from psychological causes. These can include having poor body image, mood disorders, relationship problems, or past sexual trauma.[8]
    • Psychological causes can result in a lowered libido, decreased desire or arousal, failure to achieve orgasm, or a lack of sensitivity in the genitals.
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    Take sociocultural and economic factors into account. Factors such as inadequate sex education, religious beliefs, culturally held shame about sex, or fatigue from family or work can contribute to sexual dissatisfaction.[9] Beliefs taught in childhood, cultural norms, and gender roles can influence a person’s sex life.
    • Think about how any beliefs you were taught in your upbringing affect your sex life. Were you taught that sex was “bad” or that you should be ashamed of your body? These factors can influence sexual satisfaction.
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    Discuss the problems with your healthcare provider. If the sexual problems cause you, your partner, or the relationship distress, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.[10] Talk about the problems and remember that your healthcare provider is there to help you. Be as specific as possible, noting what is causing problems, when it occurs, how frequently it occurs, and if there is pain involved.
    • While you may feel embarrassed to discuss these things with your provider, remember that you are seeking help and that there are treatments available.

Part 2
Diagnosing Sexual Dysfunction in Women

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    Schedule an appointment with a gynecologist. At your appointment, you may take certain tests, receive a physical examination, and be asked specific questions. During the physical examination, the provider may do a pelvic exam. You may also provide a Pap test to check for cancer or a precancerous condition.[11]
    • Your provider may ask you questions related to your attitudes toward sex, any past traumatic history, relationship problems, or problems with alcohol or drugs.
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    Obtain tests to check hormone levels. Lots of factors can influence sexual desire in women. Ask your provider to perform tests to check for any medical causes of dysfunction. For a low libido, check for low estrogen levels and low testosterone. You may also check for high blood pressure, thyroid problems, and diabetes.[12]
    • Other women-specific causes can include breastfeeding, hormonal changes after childbirth, and menopause.
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    Look at medical causes. Women may experience problems such as diminished blood flow to the genitals, problems with the pelvic floor muscles, vaginal trauma, spinal cord injury, or genital mutilation that can interfere with sexual satisfaction. These problems can lead to vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and severe pain during sexual activity.[13]
    • Many of these problems can be examined by a medical provider.
    • If you take medications, ask your provider whether the medications can affect libido or sexual satisfaction.
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    Look at problems with pain. Vaginismus and Dyspareunia are diagnoses given for pain during sexual activity. Vaginismus involves involuntary spasms that interfere with penetration.[14] It can result from fear or inexperience with sex, or result from a traumatic experience. Dyspareunia involves pain during intercourse. Dyspareunia can be caused by endometriosis, ovarian cysts, vaginal inflammation, or from scar tissue.[15]
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    Identify symptoms related to vaginal dryness. Some women experience difficulty lubricating. A woman’s ability to lubricate may change in response to breastfeeding or menopause. If a woman is anxious about sex or expecting sex to be painful, these thoughts can influence lubrication as well.[16]
    • Think about when difficulties arise. What thoughts or feelings surround the lack of lubrication? How do you (and your partner) respond?

Part 3
Diagnosing Sexual Dysfunction in Men

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    Make an appointment with a medical doctor. When diagnosing sexual dysfunction, the provider may do an examination and ask you questions to get a better understanding of your problems.[17] Your provider may check testosterone levels, which are primary in understanding men’s sexual health.
    • Your provider may ask about any current medications, alcohol or drug use, and lifestyle changes that may affect your sexual satisfaction.
    • Some possible tests your provider may request include a complete blood count, a urine test, a blood glucose test, a Serum creatinine test, a lipid profile, testosterone test, and/or a Prolactin level test.[18]
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    Look at problems with erectile disfunction. Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects many men, especially those over 40.[19] It is defined by the inability to maintain an erection during intercourse. Some possible causes of ED include improper blood flow, a nerve disorder, penis injury, some chronic diseases, and some medications. Over time, ED can cause stress and anxiety.
    • ED is associated with some medical diagnoses, such as diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, spinal cord compression and pituitary tumors.[20]
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    Identify ejaculation problems. Some men struggle with premature ejaculation (PE), which occurs when before or immediately after penetration. Some factors influencing PE include stress, depression, history of sexual repression, and low self-confidence.[21] Some people may be unable to ejaculate at all. Some possible causes include medications (like certain antidepressants), sexual anxiety, or a history of sexual trauma.[22] Sometimes, deeply held religious beliefs can interfere with sexual satisfaction.
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    Address problems with a low libido. Both men and women can struggle with libido. Some common problems for men with low libido include a low testosterone level, physical illness, or medication side-effects. Stress, depression, or anxiety about having sex or sexual performance can lead to problems with sexual desire.[23] Relationship problems can also lead to low libido.
    • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to a low libido.[24]

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Categories: Reproductive Health