Sexual Dysfunction

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At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our urology and urogynecology specialists have years of experience in diagnosing and treating sexual dysfunction in women and men. Our specialists and their teams provide compassionate care in a comfortable setting to help improve our patients’ lives.

What is Sexual Dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction describes any difficulty that prevents a person or couple from wanting or enjoying sexual activity. Although sexual dysfunction is quite common, affecting 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men, it is highly treatable.

Advanced Care for Sexual Dysfunction

Our specialists conduct research to understand the causes of sexual dysfunction in men and women with the ultimate goal of improving treatment. This research, combined with our extensive clinical experience, enables UT Southwestern to provide our patients with the best possible medical care.

Types of Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction may include:

  • Desire: Lack of sexual desire or interest in sex
  • Arousal:
    • Arousal disorder: Inability to become aroused or excited during sexual activity. This may be psychological and/or genital.
    • Persistent genital arousal disorder: Persistent or recurrent and unwanted bothersome genital arousal or sensation that is unrelated to sexual interest (may include spontaneous orgasm)
  • Pain: Pain during intercourse or attempts at intercourse
  • Orgasm: Delay, absence, or decreased sensation of orgasm (climax)

Causes of Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can result from physical issues such as:

Gynecological problems can also cause sexual dysfunction such as:

Urology conditions in men can lead to sexual dysfunction:

  • Blood flow problems
  • Ejaculation problems
  • Injury to the penis
  • Nerve disorders
  • Peyronie's disease

Sexual dysfunction can result from psychological or emotional issues such as:

  • Mood disorders, including anxiety or depression
  • Past sexual abuse
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress

Diagnosing Sexual Dysfunction

People who are having sexual problems should see their doctor if they suspect a physical cause. Our experienced specialists talk with patients to understand what they are experiencing. We begin with a thorough evaluation that includes a:

  • Physical exam
  • Review of personal and family medical history
  • Discussion of symptoms

Sometimes, we might recommend one or more additional tests, such as:

  • Blood tests to check for underlying conditions that could be causing sexual dysfunction
  • Pelvic exam for women, to assess any physical issues

During the evaluation and treatment planning, UT Southwestern specialists take into account factors such as:

  • Conditions affecting the lungs, liver, kidneys, nerves, arteries, veins, skin, and muscles
  • Conflicts or lack of communication between partners
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Excessive tobacco use, especially in men
  • Health problems that can inhibit sex, such as Parkinson's diseasestroke, and spinal cord injury
  • Hormone deficiencies
  • Insomnia
  • Medications such as antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, and antidepressants
  • Previous sexual trauma
  • Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, guilt, and depression
  • Surgery that has affected the pelvic organs, genitals, or hormones

Treatment for Sexual Dysfunction

To help our patients overcome sexual dysfunction, we typically begin by ensuring that patients are receiving appropriate treatment for any underlying medical conditions. Our specialists also offer a variety of therapies specifically designed to improve sexual function, such as:

  • Education and counseling to enhance intimacy between partners
  • Education and counseling on lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and adequate sleep
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Medications for erectile dysfunction that increase blood flow to the penis
  • Medications for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women
  • Medications for vulvar skin conditions in women
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Reconstructive urology procedures to restore function after injury, illness, or other problems affecting the genitals
  • Surgery to implant penile prosthesis for men with erectile dysfunction who cannot be treated with medications or counseling
  • Vascular procedures to treat blocked arteries and improve blood flow to the penis