Depending on what kind of dinner parties you attend, you might have come across the term ‘psychosexual dysfunction’ (potentially in the context of a specific issue like ‘psychological ED’). If you haven’t – don’t worry, you’re probably just going to better dinner parties than we are.
But what is a psychosexual dysfunction? And why are they increasingly being talked about?
At its most basic, ‘psychosexual dysfunction’ is a term used to describe any sexual problem that is caused by psychological factors. This is in contrast to ‘regular’ sexual dysfunctions, which are often caused by physical factors like hormonal imbalances or medical conditions. Except… in many cases psychosexual dysfunctions are actually more regular than, well, regular dysfunctions.
So while the tough-love advice of the friend who tells you “it’s all in your head” might not feel so good, there’s a decent chance it could be accurate.
It’s important to note that most physical sexual problems also develop an element of psychosexual dysfunction. So even if low blood pressure (for example) has inhibited your ability to reach orgasm, after a few ‘failures’ it’s possible that you’ll also develop anxiety around this issue, which would in turn contribute to it.
Common causes of psychosexual dysfunctions
So what causes psychosexual dysfunctions? Well, there are many possible factors, including past traumas, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and stress.
One of the most common, yet least talked about causes is shame. This can often come from our social or cultural upbringing, where sex and masturbation is seen as ‘naughty’ or ‘wrong’. Those feelings can stay with us as we move into adulthood, unconsciously forming the foundation for sexual problems to flourish.
Whether the root cause is childhood shame, relationship anxiety or work stress, the effect is often similar. It creates a psychological reaction of anxiety to either the prospect or the reality of sex.
This in turn triggers our flight or fight response. At this point, your body is in panic mode. This means your brain is more concerned with survival than seduction, and your body is sending blood to every part of your body except your genitals. It’s no surprise that this results in a range of sexual problems!
Common psychosexual dysfunctions for men
In terms of the most common psychosexual dysfunctions for men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is often at the top of the list. ED is characterized by a man's inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sexual activity.
But anxiety in the body can also create physical tension in our muscles, which can create the condition of premature ejaculation. And many men may experience both ED and premature ejaculation concurrently, which surprises some people.
One of the least talked about, but most common, psychosexual dysfunctions for men is also delayed ejaculation. This is the inability to reach orgasm during partnered sex, which can be really distressing for both partners.
And all of this can contribute to a low sex drive indirectly, by training men’s brains to want to avoid sex because of a history of problems. But stress in the body also lowers our libido directly, which can create additional challenges!
Common psychosexual dysfunctions for women
For women, the most common psychosexual dysfunctions are often related to issues with sexual desire and arousal. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from a lack of interest in sex to difficulty becoming sexually aroused.
It’s also important to note that for many women, it could result in a lowered sexual desire for their partner, but not for sex in general. If that sounds like you – don’t panic. There is nothing wrong with you and it’s totally normal. Read on for treatment options below!
Other common psychosexual dysfunctions for women include difficulty achieving orgasm, pain during sex, and vaginismus (involuntary muscle spasms that make intercourse painful or impossible).
What age do psychosexual dysfunctions happen?
So when do psychosexual dysfunctions most commonly occur? Well, the truth is that they can happen at any age, but they tend to be more common as we move past our mid-twenties.
This is partly because our bodies change as we age, and partly because we may be dealing with more stress and relationship issues as we get older.
The “sweet spot” for psychological dysfunctions is normally between the ages of 27 and 55. As people move into their 60s, the physical issues associated with aging tend to become the predominant factor.
How can you treat psychological dysfunctions?
Fortunately, there are many effective treatments for psychosexual dysfunctions. These can include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and even sex toys.
For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very effective in helping people overcome psychosexual dysfunctions by identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Exposure therapy is another approach which has been proven to drive great results. Exercises like the “Wax & Wane” technique has been shown to be effective for 94% of men experiencing ED.
And mindfulness exercises can also be incredibly effective. Just one course of these exercises helped over 90% of women in one study experience their first ever orgasm!
Whatever issue you’re dealing with, it’s important to seek a credible, holistic treatment approach which works on both your brain and body.
The team at Lover have spent years doing just this, creating courses specifically designed to help people of all genders overcome psychosexual dysfunctions in a matter of weeks.
If you’re interested in trying the app, you can download it here. You’ll get a 3 day Free Trial to see how it works – and 87% of people report positive results within 10 days.