The Most Common Sexual Problems in Men

Many men experience sexual problems (sexual dysfunction) at some point in their life. In fact, research shows that 20 to 30 percent of adult men have one or more types of sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and other problems.

Key takeaways:
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    Male sexual dysfunction is common, affecting about one-third of men at some point in their lives.
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    Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and Peyronie’s disease are the most common male sexual problems.
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    Both physical and psychological conditions can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction.
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    Depending on the cause, treatments for male sexual dysfunction can include medication, psychological therapy, or, in some cases, surgery.

Fortunately, there are many treatments available that can effectively address the underlying physical and psychological causes of male sexual dysfunction. In other words, sexual problems in men are both common and treatable.

Male sexual dysfunction

Male sexual dysfunction can include problems that affect sexual performance, arousal, sex drive, and interest in sex. In order to treat any of these problems, you must first identify what may be causing your sexual dysfunction. Sex is both physical and mental, involving both the body and the mind. Sexual problems can arise when either your body or your brain aren’t functioning at their best.

If you are experiencing sexual problems, you should seek help from your healthcare provider. In order to find the appropriate treatment, you must first determine the underlying cause of a sexual problem. Sexual dysfunction is common but may indicate a serious underlying condition.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is any difficulty with achieving and/or maintaining an erection that affects your sexual performance or sexual pleasure. As many as one-third of all adult men experience erectile dysfunction, making it the most common type of male sexual dysfunction. There are many possible causes of ED, including medication side effects as well as psychological and physical causes.

While occasional difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection is normal, repeated problems with erections should be treated. Treatments for ED can include oral medications (sildenafil (Viagra) and others), testosterone therapy, vacuum erection devices, penile implants, and medication injected directly into the penis.

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (PE) is a condition that causes men to orgasm and ejaculate semen too quickly during sex (or even during foreplay). PE is usually followed by the loss of an erection, which can bring things to a sudden and unexpected halt in the bedroom, negatively impacting self-esteem, sexual confidence, and relationships.

PE occurs in 30 to 40 percent of men at some time in their lives. PE is linked to serotonin levels in the brain—lower serotonin levels can result in PE. Treatments for PE include psychological or psychiatric therapy, couples therapy, sexual counseling, medications, and exercises to improve control over ejaculation.

Peyronie’s disease

Any deformity of the penis can affect sexual function. Injuries to the penis can result in scar tissue forming under the skin, resulting in Peyronie’s disease (PD). Research suggests that more than 10 percent of adult men in the U.S. may have Peyronie’s disease. PD can develop after even mild penile injuries (most often during sex), causing the formation of scar tissue that can change the shape of the penis and may be painful.

Abnormal curvature of the penis often occurs with PD. Having a curved penis is normal—everyone is different—but changes to the size or shape of your penis are abnormal and should be seen by a healthcare provider. Treatments for PD include medications, penile injections, and surgery.

Infertility and other problems

Other, less common types of sexual dysfunction include infertility and difficulty achieving an orgasm. Male infertility is a problem for men wishing to conceive a child. Male infertility commonly results from problems with sperm function or problems with ejaculation. Many factors affect sperm production, resulting in low sperm counts or poor sperm motility (the sperm can’t swim correctly), including genetics and various medical conditions. Retrograde ejaculation, where semen enters the bladder rather than exiting the penis, can also cause male infertility. There are many different possible causes for male infertility and many different treatments, depending on the cause.

Premature ejaculation is not the only type of orgasmic sexual dysfunction that men experience. While much less common, some men have delayed ejaculation or anorgasmia, taking longer than normal to orgasm or not having an orgasm at all during sex. Both of these can be caused by a variety of psychological or physical problems and can be difficult to treat.

Common causes of sexual dysfunction in men

The two most common types of male sexual dysfunction—erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation—share many of the same possible causes.

Mental health. Psychological and psychiatric problems can lead to sexual dysfunction. This can include anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, religious concerns about sex, guilt, or a history of sexual repression. Simply lacking sexual confidence or worrying about your sexual performance can also contribute to sexual dysfunction.

Overall health. Overall health has a significant impact on sexual function. In addition to normal aging, a number of different health problems can cause multiple types of sexual dysfunction. Basically, anything that affects blood flow or nerve function can lead to sexual dysfunction, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and injury.

Diabetes can cause damage to small blood vessels and nerves needed for proper sexual function. According to research, more than half of men with diabetes have sexual dysfunction. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, atherosclerosis (arterial plaques), and high blood pressure, can all affect blood flow to the penis, leading to erectile dysfunction and other problems. Additionally, some prescription medications can contribute to sexual problems in men, including certain heart medications and antidepressants.

Low testosterone levels (male hypogonadism) can also contribute to sexual dysfunction. Testosterone levels in men decrease with age, especially after age 40, but can also be affected by medications. If levels are too low and causing sexual problems or other symptoms, then testosterone replacement therapy may help improve low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

Common but treatable

Male sexual dysfunction is common and often treatable. Any changes in your sexual health, sexual performance, or sexual satisfaction that concern you deserve to be checked out by a healthcare provider. To find the best treatment for your sexual problems, you must first get an accurate diagnosis. Treatment can be as simple as a pill or talk therapy, or it may be more involved, such as surgery.

If you are having sexual problems, then seek help. Remember, you aren’t alone, so don’t let embarrassment or shame prevent you from getting the help you need to get your sex life back on track.


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