The cause of sexual dysfunction can be physical, medical, or psychological. Physical causes include several health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, injury, surgery, or hormonal imbalances. Side effects of medications used to treat these conditions or other conditions can also have negative sexual side effects. Psychological causes can include stress, anxiety, marital problems, depression, and previous traumatic sexual experiences.
Whether it affects arousal, performance, or climax, sexual dysfunction is a real problem for the men and women who have it. Once the problem is identified, sexual dysfunction may resolve on its own, or it may respond to treatment or resolution of the underlying condition.
Alternative Sexual Enhancement Therapies
Certain natural remedies may be helpful for sexual dysfunction. For example, the herb Korean red ginseng might be helpful for men who have ED, and the hormone DHEA might be helpful in improving sexual function in older women.
Note: Since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these products, their purity and safety is often in question. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health advises that no complementary health therapies have proven to be safe and effective. In fact, safety is a serious concern with regard to dietary supplements promoted for ED or sexual enhancement. Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.
Sexual Enhancement Drugs
Sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil may be used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. It works by improving blood flow to the penis.
In addition to medications and natural remedies, examples of other treatment options include:
Couples therapy sessions to address emotional and relationship issues that may be causing sexual dysfunction
Vacuum devices for men to increase blood flow to the genitals to help with arousal difficulties
Hormone therapy to treat hormonal insufficiencies that are involved in some cases of sexual dysfunction
There are many ways to treat sexual dysfunction, including counseling, treatment of other physical problems, mechanical devices, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements. Here is a quick overview of some of these different options.
Try the start-stop technique
Men who want to last longer during intercourse can try the start-stop technique.
To use this technique, stop sexual activity every time ejaculation feels imminent. Breathe deeply and start again slowly, then stop to delay ejaculation for as long as desirable.
This method can train the body to hold off ejaculation and help a man to feel more comfortable with not ejaculating, even during intense sexual activity.
Smoking cigarettes can lead to high blood pressure and other heart-related problems that cause erectile issues.
Smoking is also independently linked to erectile dysfunction. A 2015 analysis of 13 studies on smoking and sexual performance found that quitting smoking often improves sexual function and reduces erectile dysfunction.