Types of Male and Female Sexual Problems

sexual problems

The amazing thing about sexual problems is nobody wants to talk about them. So everyone who has one thinks they're the only one.

You Are Not Alone
Millions of Americans experience common sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction or dryness of the vagina. Many of these problems, while embarrassing to talk about with your doctor, respond well to certain medications. With the surge in sales, it is no wonder this is one of the most common difficulties experienced in life. Because it is an embarrassing subject, many people feel alone in their problems, even more alone than people who experience other, similar types of problems.

You Are Not to Blame
Sexual problems are often the result of simple learned behaviors and associations we make over years of conditioning. Other people's sexual dysfunction is related to a specific, diagnosable medical cause. Whatever the cause, you are not to blame. Sexual dysfunction is usually not caused by parental upbringing or by some conscious desire to have difficulties in the sexual arena. And if it is a problem you've been grappling with for years, it is not likely to just go away or cure itself overnight.

What Do I Do Now?
This information is here to act as a comprehensive guide to help you better understand sexual problems and find out more information about it on your own. I encourage you to learn more about your sexual dysfunction and some of the treatment options available to you, ranging from medication to behavior-oriented or couples psychotherapy.

Criteria below is summarized from: American Psychiatric Association. (1994).
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

 

 


Female Orgasmic Disorder:
Persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase. Women exhibit wide variability in the type or intensity of stimulation that triggers orgasm. The diagnosis of Female Orgasmic Disorder should be based on the clinician's judgment that the woman's orgasmic capacity is less than would be reasonable for her age, sexual experience, and the adequacy of sexual stimulation she receives.

The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The orgasmic dysfunction is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (except another sexual dysfunction) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

Male Orgasmic Disorder:
Persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase during sexual activity that the clinician, taking into account the person's age, judges to be adequate in focus, intensity, and duration.

The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The orgasmic dysfunction is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (except another sexual dysfunction) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

Fetishism:
In psychology, the term applies to sexual urges and fantasies that persistently involve the use of nonliving objects by themselves or, at times, the use of such objects with a sexual partner. Common fetishes include feet, shoes, and articles of intimate female apparel.

Symptoms:
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the use of nonliving objects (e.g., female undergarments). The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The fetish objects are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (as in Transvestic Fetishism) or devices designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., a vibrator).


Frotteurism
SYMPTOMS
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving touching and rubbing against a nonconsenting person.
The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Male Erectile Disorder
SYMPTOMS
Persistent or recurrent inability to attain, or to maintain an adequate erection until completion of the sexual activity. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The erectile dysfunction is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (other than a sexual dysfunction) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

Premature Ejaculation
SYMPTOMS
Persistent or recurrent ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation before, on, or shortly after penetration and before the person wishes it. The clinician must take into account factors that affect duration of the excitement phase, such as age, novelty of the sexual partner or situation, and recent frequency of sexual activity. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The premature ejaculation is not due exclusively to the direct effects of a substance (e.g., withdrawal from opioids).

Masochism and Sadism
SYMPTOMS
Sexual Masochism:
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.


 


Sexual Sadism:
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving acts (real, not simulated) in which the psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person.
The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Transvestic Fetishism
SYMPTOMS
Over a period of at least 6 months, in a heterosexual male, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving cross-dressing. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Vaginismus
SYMPTOMS
Recurrent or persistent involuntary spasm of the musculature of the outer third of the vagina that interferes with sexual intercourse. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. The disturbance is not better accounted for by another Axis I disorder (e.g., Somatization Disorder) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.

Voyeurism
SYMPTOMS
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the act of observing an unsuspecting person who is naked, in the process of disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Dyspareunia
SYMPTOMS
Recurrent or persistent genital pain associated with sexual intercourse in either a male or a female. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. The disturbance is not caused exclusively by Vaginismus or lack of lubrication, is not better accounted for by another Axis I disorder (except another Sexual Dysfunction), and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.


Exhibitionism
SYMPTOMS
Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the exposure of one's genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder
SYMPTOMS
Persistent or recurrent inability to attain, or to maintain until completion of the sexual activity, an adequate lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The sexual dysfunction is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (except another sexual dysfunction) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

Gender Identity Disorder
SYMPTOMS
A strong and persistent cross-gender identification (not merely a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex).

In children, the disturbance is manifested by four (or more) of the following: repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex in boys, preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; in girls, insistence on wearing only stereotypical masculine clothing strong and persistent preferences for cross-sex roles in make-believe play or persistent fantasies of being the other sex intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex strong preference for playmates of the other sex.


 


In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as a stated desire to be the other sex, frequent passing as the other sex, desire to live or be treated as the other sex, or the conviction that he or she has the typical feelings and reactions of the other sex. Persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex.

In children, the disturbance is manifested by any of the following: in boys, assertion that his penis or testes are disgusting or will disappear or assertion that it would be better not to have a penis, or aversion toward rough- and-tumble play and rejection of male stereotypical toys, games, and activities; in girls, rejection of urinating in a sitting position, assertion that she has or will grow a penis, or assertion that she does not want to grow breasts or menstruate, or marked aversion toward normative feminine clothing.

In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as preoccupation with getting rid of primary and secondary sex characteristics (e.g., request for hormones, surgery, or other procedures to physically alter sexual characteristics to simulate the other sex) or belief that he or she was born the wrong sex. The disturbance is not concurrent with a physical intersex condition.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

To make this easier to navigate, I've broken things down to male sexual problems and female sexual problems. Of course, there's a lot more here. Just take a look at the Sexual Problems table of contents.

next: Range of Sex Problems Stuns Even Researchers

Last Updated: 09 April 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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