Male Sexual Dysfunction

Last Updated: August 16 2022

In men, sexual dysfunction is typically related to problems with arousal, getting an erection, and/or ejaculating. Sexual dysfunction is complicated and can be caused my many things. Improving diet, exercising more, and identifying underlying factors are all important for treating sexual dysfunction.

Male Sexual Dysfunction falls under theHealthy Aging & LongevityandMen’s Healthcategories.

What is sexual dysfunction?

In men, sexual dysfunction typically involves issues with one or more of the following factors:[1][2]

  • Interest in sex/arousal
  • Getting an erection
  • Ejaculation
What are the main signs and symptoms of sexual dysfunction?

Men who are experiencing sexual dysfunction may have the following symptoms:

  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Difficulty becoming aroused
  • Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
  • Ejaculating too quickly or too slowly
  • low-testosterone
How is sexual dysfunction diagnosed?

Because many of the symptoms (e.g., satisfaction with time to ejaculation, level of interest in sex) are subjective, sexual dysfunction diagnoses are primarily based on what an individual identifies as problematic. A person’s emotions and previous experience can contribute to sexual dysfunction, so a full history and psychiatric evaluation may be useful. Similarly, lab tests can be used to identify or rule out physiological causes of sexual dysfunction.[2]

What are some of the main medical treatments for sexual dysfunction?

Depending on the condition, a variety of medical treatments may be used:[2]

ConditionMedical Treatments
Premature ejaculationSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Topical anesthetics (e.g., lidocaine)
Delayed ejaculationCessation of medications that may cause delayed ejaculation (e.g., SSRIs, opioids)
Erectile dysfunctionPhosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors (e.g., sildenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil)
Low libidoTestosterone replacement therapy and/or cessation of libido-reducing medications (e.g., SSRIs, opioids)

Additionally, sexual dysfunction can be secondary to some other issue, such as depression, cardiovascular disease, or hypogonadism (i.e., low testosterone).

Have any supplements been studied for sexual dysfunction?

A handful of studies have found maca to improve sexual desire in people with and without sexual dysfunction. Additionally, cocoa extract may improve sexual function by supporting vascular health.

A number of other supplements have shown some promise (e.g., fenugreek, yohimbine, tribulus-terrestris, Eurycoma Longifolia Jack), but very little research has been conducted on any of these supplements.

How could diet affect sexual dysfunction?

In individuals who are overweight, or have diet-related health conditions like type-2-diabetes, weight loss can markedly improve sexual function.[3]

Are there any other treatments for sexual dysfunction?

Regular exercise can improve erectile dysfunction.[3]

Psychotherapy and sex therapy are also effective for treating sexual dysfunction, especially if the dysfunction is caused by a person’s beliefs, previous experiences, or perception of themselves.[2]

Smoking cessation is probably beneficial for erectile dysfunction.[4][5]

If the sexual dysfunction is secondary to another condition, treating that condition may resolve the sexual dysfunction.

What causes sexual dysfunction?

“Normal” sexual function requires vascular, neurological, hormonal, and psychological systems to function together. As such, issues with any of these symptoms may produce issues with sexual function.[6]

Sexual dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Neurological issues (e.g., damage to the brain, the spinal cord, or the nerves of the penis)
  • Vascular issues (e.g., reduced penile blood flow due to cardiovascular disease)
  • Endocrine issues (e.g., low testosterone, high prolactin, high/low thyroid hormones)
  • Psychosocial issues (e.g., depression, stress, or relationship issues)[7]
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Medications (e.g., SSRIs, opioids, certain blood pressure medications)
  • Recreational drugs
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