How is sexual dysfunction treated?

Most types of sexual dysfunction can be corrected by treating the underlying physical or psychological problems. Other treatment strategies include:

Medication — When a medication is the cause of the dysfunction, a change in the medication may help. Men and women with hormone deficiencies may benefit from hormone shots, pills, or creams. For men, drugs, including sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®, Staxyn®), and avanafil (Stendra®) may help improve sexual function by increasing blood flow to the penis.

Mechanical aids — Aids such as vacuum devices and penile implants may help men with erectile dysfunction (the inability to achieve or maintain an erection). A vacuum device (Eros) is also approved for use in women, but can be costly. Dilators may help women who experience narrowing of the vagina.

Sex therapy — Sex therapists can be very helpful to couples experiencing a sexual problem that cannot be addressed by their primary clinician. Therapists are often good marital counselors, as well. For the couple who wants to begin enjoying their sexual relationship, it is well worth the time and effort to work with a trained professional.

Behavioral treatments — These involve various techniques, including insights into harmful behaviors in the relationship, or techniques such as self-stimulation for treatment of problems with arousal and/or orgasm.

PsychotherapyTherapy with a trained counselor can help a person address sexual trauma from the past, feelings of anxiety, fear, or guilt, and poor body image, all of which may have an impact on current sexual function.

Education and communication — Education about sex and sexual behaviors and responses may help an individual overcome his or her anxieties about sexual function. Open dialogue with your partner about your needs and concerns also helps to overcome many barriers to a healthy sex life.

Can sexual dysfunction be cured?

The success of treatment for sexual dysfunction depends on the underlying cause of the problem. The outlook is good for dysfunction that is related to a condition that can be treated or reversed. Mild dysfunction that is related to stress, fear, or anxiety often can be successfully treated with counseling, education, and improved communication between partners.

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