Sexual Problems in Men

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are sexual problems in men?

Sexual health is an important part of a man's life, no matter his age, civil status, or sexual orientation. It is also an important part of a couple's foundation and contributes to the quality of life. Sexual problems in men can seem taboo but they are very common. This article was written to help patients better understand the possible problems affecting their sexual health and if possible, to make them talk about them with their doctors.

The definition of sexual dysfunction is the inability to have a satisfactory sexual relationship. This definition depends on each person's own interpretation on what he/she judges satisfactory. In general, sexual dysfunction can affect the quality of life and, even more importantly, can be the first symptom of another medical or psychological problem. Any sexual complaint should be taken seriously and evaluated.

What is the physiology of sexual function?

Sexual activity involves coordination between various systems of the body. Hormones and neurological pathways must be in sync for sexual desire to be present. Blood vessels, nerves, and penile integrity must all be present for an adequate erection and its maintenance during the sexual relation. Muscles and nerves coordinate ejaculation and it is achieved when the physiological passageway for sperm (from the testicles to the urethra) is present. Orgasm is a complex phenomenon that isn't completely understood but it involves the coordination of muscles and nerves. When sexual dysfunction is present, the physician must evaluate all the possible insults in this chain of events.

How are sexual problems in men diagnosed?

Evaluation of sexual dysfunction starts with a detailed medical, sexual, and psychological history, followed by a thorough physical examination. The second step must not be overlooked because as you will note throughout this article, sexual dysfunction can have many causes. Sometimes, the patient's partner can also contribute to the evaluation, for she/he could provide useful information as well.

A detailed medical, psychological, and sexual history is acquired during the interview with the physician. Some of the questions that are asked can be intimate and might cause you to feel shy to answer thoroughly. It is imperative to give the proper information, even though it is understandable that it can take time to be comfortable talking about this. Having a good relationship with your physician is always helpful.

Some of the questions the doctor could ask might concern the frequency of sexual relations, your sexual orientation, if the frequency or quality of sexual relations are satisfying, and your number of sexual partners, among others. They will also inquire about nonsexual-related complaints.

A complete physical examination is performed including assessing the pulses in the legs and a thorough examination of the external genitalia (penis, scrotum, and perineum) and their reflexes. The doctor will look for visual field defects and might ask for laboratory tests or imaging.

One of the possible tests is a nocturnal tumescence test to evaluate nocturnal erections. Your physician might also ask for tests for penile blood vessel function or some tests of the nervous system to help differentiate between possible causes of sexual dysfunction.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/19/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Sexual Problems in Men - Treatment Question: Have you had treatment for a sexual problem? Did it work?
Sexual Problems in Men - Types Question: What type of sexual problem did you have?

Sexual Problems in Older Adults

As we age, most people desire the need to be close to others. Moreover, as we approach the “golden years” many of us also want to maintain satisfying, active physical and sexual relationships...Unfortunately, the aging process also may cause some undesirable changes in our bodies.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!