Types of sexual dysfunction in women and men

Good sex life is vital in every healthy relationship. It also plays a role in the individual’s happiness and overall wellbeing. There has to be a balance between pleasure, satisfaction, desire and eroticism to be a good place sexually. If there is an interference in any of these, it can negatively impact your sex life. This interference is often termed sexual dysfunction.

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction is any problem preventing an individual from engaging in sexual activity. This often leads to dissatisfaction, relationship and personal distress. Sexual dysfunction is not age or gender-specific, so it can affect men and women of all ages. However, the risk of developing sexual dysfunction increases as one age.
Lack of sexual satisfaction and desire usually results from a disruption in the interrelationship between the mind, body and emotions during sexual activity.
Sometimes, the affected person would not be in the mood to engage in sexual activity.

When you should consider a bad night experience a problem

It is normal to not be in the mood to engage in sexual activity with your partner. However, this becomes a cause for concern when it becomes a routine and interferes with your sexual life.

Sexual dysfunction can be categorised into the following, depending on the part of the sexual response affected.

  • Sexual arousal disorder
  • Sexual pain disorder
  • Low libido disorder
  • Orgasmic dysfunction

Low libido disorder

Fantasy, desire or thought to engage in sexual activity is the first step in any sexual activity. A low libido disorder occurs when you have little or no drive to engage in sex. This occurs recurrently or continuously for a long time, leading to personal distress. A low libido disorder may occur after a long period of having a normal sex life. In some cases, this disorder may always be present.

Two types of low libido disorder affect people. They include:

  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder

This disorder occurs as a recurrent or persistent low or no desire to be intimate with a partner.

  • Sexual aversion disorder

Sexual aversion disorder makes the affected person avoid sex, which can affect their relationship with a partner. Some people with this disorder experience panic attacks when there is a possibility of sexual activity.


Low libido in men is usually due to low testosterone levels, while in women, it may result from the following.

  • Breast-feeding
  • Hormonal imbalance during childbirth
  • Low levels of oestrogen
  • Menopause

Factors common in men and women that may result in low libido include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Age
  • Sexual inhibitions
  • Fear of pregnancy
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Anxiety
  • Traumatic past
  • Stress
  • Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Certain medications such as antidepressant drugs


Treatment for low libido disorder may include:

  • Couple counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Switch an antidepressant medication
  • Hormonal therapy

Sexual arousal disorder

Sexual arousal fuels erotic changes before sex, so when you can’t become aroused, it makes sexual intercourse difficult, unsatisfying and painful.Sexual arousal disorder occurs as a continuous lack of sexual arousal,whether emotional, mental or physical such as penile erection, vaginal wetness, throbbing or tingling in the genitals in response to sexual stimulatory activities like watching porn, touching the genital, kissing or dancing.


Most causes of sexual arousal disorder arethe same as low libido disorder. They include hormonal disorder, stress and depression. Other causes include

  • Drying and thinning of the vagina after menopause (atrophic vaginitis)
  • Blocking of blood vessels and nerve damage
  • Bladder infection (cystitis) or vaginal infections (vaginitis)
  • Diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease


The following can help treat sexual arousal disorder

  • Therapies help balance hormone levels
  • Mature cooperation in making the environment more comfortable for sexual intercourse
  • Activities that increase intimacy and trust between sexual partners
  • Using aphrodisiacs such as tadalafil or sildenafil under a doctor’s prescription
  • Discussing and understanding your partner’s sexual interest

Orgasmic dysfunction

Orgasmic dysfunction occurs when the affected person does not experience climax or experiences delayed sexual climax (orgasm) even with sufficient sexual stimulation and arousal. An example is delayed or early ejaculation in men. Orgasmic dysfunction causes irritation, personal problems, distress and frustration.


Common causes of orgasmic dysfunctions include:

  • Diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Nerve damage such as spinal cord injury
  • Personal issues, physical trauma, history of sexual abuse, gynaecological trauma relationship conflicts
  • Medications like antidepressants
  • Low self-esteem, depression, stress, cultural and religious beliefs. Shyness, guilt


Treatment for orgasmic dysfunction depends on its cause. They include:

  • Couple counselling
  • Sex and cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Treating underlying diseases
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Changing antidepressant medications
  • Increasing genital stimulation by using arousal oils or toys, other sexual activities during masturbation or sexual intercourse

Sexual pain disorder

Sexual pain disorder, also called penetration disorder or genito-pelvic pain,occurs when the affected person experiences pain during different phases of sex. This condition makes enjoying sex difficult and more traumatic. It also increases sexual and interpersonal distress and rescues emotional quality of life.


Pain during any sexual activity may result from the following.

  • Hormonal changes due to menopause
  • Spinal cord injury or nerve damage
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Tense vaginal muscles or poor lubrication
  • Involuntary vaginal muscles spasms or vaginismus
  • Psychological factors: depression, anxiety, fear
  • Damage to the penis (Peyronie’s disease)
  • Urinary tract, bowel or neurological infections and disorders, such as chronic pelvic pain syndrome, chronic prostatitis, genital herpes


Treatment for sexual pain disorder depends on its cause. Common treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Treating the underlying damages or diseases
  • Couple counselling
  • Sex therapy or cognitive behaviour
  • Using lubricants and trying different sex positions
  • Vaginal relaxation exercises
  • Changing the medication responsible for causing pain during sex

If your partner always tries to avoid sex or gives excuses to avoid sex, try talking to them about it and encouraging them to share the problem instead of making hasty conclusions. Your partner may be struggling with sexual dysfunction and needs your support.

If you’re going through the same situation, talk to your partner about it and visit here for a sexual health check to determine the cause of the problem.