Sexual dysfunction is defined basically as the problems that interfere with sex — its initiation, consummation, and a person’s satisfaction with it. Both men and women can experience these problems.

For men, such sexual problems can be divided into three types: ejaculation disorders (premature, retarded or retrograde ejaculation), erectile dysfunction or impotence (the inability to achieve or maintain an erection to be able to have sex), and loss of libido (a decreased desire or interest for any kind of sexual activity.

Among women, on the other hand, sexual dysfunction typically falls under four types: low sexual desire (a diminished libido), sexual arousal disorder (the desire is there, but there is difficulty achieving arousal or maintaining it during intercourse), orgasmic disorder (difficulty in achieving orgasm), and sexual pain disorder (experiencing pain from sexual stimulation or contact with the reproductive area).

The impact of the mind on sexual issues

In order to stimulate sexual response, a number of different factors come into play: physiology, behaviours or emotions, beliefs, experiences, relationships, and lifestyles are examples.

Mental and emotional variables, in particular, can greatly affect a man’s or a woman’s ability to achieve sexual arousal and satisfaction, and even the level of their self-esteem and the health of their relationships.

The following are examples of causes that can contribute to a person’s psychosexual dysfunction:

  • Anxiety or fear
  • Stress due to work and financial issues
  • Depression
  • Negative feelings regarding their own body image or their partner’s
  • Relationship problems
  • Guilt
  • Performance anxiety
  • Traumatic experiences related to sex (such as abuse or rape)
  • Cultural or religious restrictions

Sexual dysfunction and relationships

Couples experiencing sexual issues can consequently experience challenges that can test their relationship. When one or both partners feels little sexual desire, difficulty becoming aroused, pain during intercourse, or an inability to reach orgasm, tension can arise, communication can begin to break down, resentments emerge, and the bond between them can weaken.

One of the most important steps that couples can take is to accept that they are facing intimacy issues, upon which they can make the decision to seek professional help and save their relationship.

Signing up for couples counselling, everyone must know, is certainly not a sign of weakness or failure in any way — rather, it is a way to demonstrate that both parties care and are fully invested in their relationship to be pro-active about finding a solution and repairing their connection.

Couples counselling can help men and women improve their communication skills, open up about their thoughts and emotions regarding relevant sexual issues, increase their understanding of their partners, reclaim their ability to work and function as a team, reignite their intimacy and emotional closeness, and build a much stronger relationship foundation.

Therapy sessions with a trained sex therapist or counsellor are also helpful as these specialists can help individuals combat problems with depression, anxiety or guilt, which could be negatively affecting the quality of their sexual experiences.

If you’re dealing with a sexual issue or have problems in your relationship or marriage with your sex life,  search our directory of therapists who work with sexual issues.