What Are Sexual Dysfunctions and Are They Normal?

Socially, sex is a difficult topic. Most of us think about sex (a lot) and we pay for sex toys and porn discretely. The sex toy industry alone is projected to be worth $35.5 billion by the end of 2023. Compare that to the toothbrush industry which is just $4.72 billion. Sex is portrayed in television, advertisements, and other media like porn as a specific act that is performed perfectly every time.


But everyday life is not filled with actors and production teams, it's filled with people who have everyday struggles not deemed worthy of the silver screen. Talking about sex realistically, as well as discussing, diagnosing, and treating sexual dysfunctions is hardly ever spoken about.


Although sex education and the overall acceptance of sex acts have come a long way in the past decade, there still remains a huge taboo around sexual dysfunctions and sexual pleasure.



Of course, sex is naturally a topic that can feel very personal and private. For many people, talking about sex, let alone sexual issues can feel vulnerable and even embarrassing. And it doesn't exactly help that there aren't many people out there helping us.


But the truth is that sexual dysfunctions are SO normal. That's why we’ve built a business to help people overcome them. And we're also going to dedicate this blog post to explaining everything about them. What it means, how people experience them and just how common they are.


So, what is a sexual dysfunction? Well, it is often defined as "a physical or psychological problem that prevents a person from experiencing sexual pleasure".


What causes sexual dysfunctions?


Physical


Such as underlying health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, alcoholism or drug abuse, or even medication.


Psychological


Such as stress, anxiety, depression, other mental illnesses, concern about sexual performance, relationship problems, issues with body image, and psychological trauma.


They can broadly be categorized into these four themes


Desire


Sexual desire is fluid throughout a lifetime, however, at various points in one’s life, low sexual desire can cause a person significant distress.


The opposite is also true, high libdo or a hyperactive sexual desire can also cause distress and confusion while disrupting the person’s life.


Arousal


This is a decrease in response to sexual stimuli and a decrease in blood flow to the genitals.


Orgasmic dysfunction


This can be either situational or acquired, which can cause a person to experience difficulty reaching climax.


Pain


When a person experiences pain during sex. This tends to be more common among women, with 26% of women experiencing some pain during sex.



What does this look like in men and women?

In men...

  • It can result in an inability to achieve or maintain an erection, to the extent it is difficult to have intercourse.

  • Delayed or an inability to ejaculate, despite receiving adequate sexual stimulation.

  • The inability to control when one ejaculates, also known as premature ejaculation.


In women...

  • The inability to reach orgasm.

  • Female sexual arousal disorder, which is a lack of arousal often leading to vaginal dryness and pain during sex.

  • Difficulty relaxing the vaginal muscles to experience penetration, could be a form of vaginismus.

  • These often occur in relation to menopause or in older adults.

In men and women...

  • Loss or lack of sexual interest.

  • Difficulty becoming aroused, despite receiving adequate sexual stimulation.

  • Experiencing pain with intercourse.Who is susceptible to having a sexual dysfunction?


Who is susceptible to having a sexual dysfunction?


If you are experiencing any of the above, you are one of the millions who experience sexual dysfunctions. Here are the facts behind sexual dysfunctions.


Up to 45%* of women and 31% of men are affected by some kind of sexual dysfunction.


Studies have shown that 30% of women have a hypoactive sexual desire disorder and 15% of men too.


When it comes to sexual arousal disorders, around 10% to 20% of men and women will experience them. Erectile dysfunction alone affects 30 million men every year.


Orgasmic disorder (also known as the difficulty or an inability to reach orgasm) affects around 10% to 15% of women based on various studies.


Whereas, for men, premature ejaculation is the most common sexual complaint. Surprisingly, up to 30% of men report experiencing it, yet just 3% of men fit the medical definition.


Sexual pain also affects up to 26% of women and 5% of men.


All of these have been shown to impact a person's interpersonal relationships and overall quality of life.


This might sound daunting, but there are solutions.



Given that it’s so normal, why is no one talking about it?


Knowing about sex and our bodies, discussing it, and educating people have not been a priority in the past. So, it’s no surprise these issues are still largely missing from public conversation and our sexual education.


On top of that, you have assumptions about what it is to be a man. That you should always have a rock-hard, long-lasting erection when you want one. And that being a man comes hand in hand with having a high sex drive and an interest in sex. Neither of which is true for any person.


Female sexuality too has not been openly celebrated until recently. Just think, male masturbation is basically a “given” among boys going through puberty. But this conversation is largely absent among young women. Despite the fact that most women report doing it.


It’s also such an intimate experience, that for many people, having an open discussion about it can feel private or uncomfortable.


You’re not alone…


The Lover app has been created to help people overcome their sexual issues. Because there are solutions that provide long-lasting change.


If you want t ask questions directly to a doctor about your struggles, our community forum on the Lover app is the perfect place. This is a space for our users to openly ask their questions to our sexual therapist Dr. Britney Blair. In a non-judgmental, open space. Hopefully, you’ll get to see the concerns of other people all across the world, and learn the many steps you can take to take back control of your happiness in the bedroom, AND your relationships.

Download the Lover app today to start your sexual wellness journey.



 

References


Pereira, Valeska Martinho et al. “Sex therapy for female sexual dysfunction.” International archives of medicine vol. 6,1 37. 26 Sep. 2013, doi:10.1186/1755-7682-6-37


The Cleveland Clinic


Rosen RC. Prevalence and risk factors of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2000 Jun;2(3):189-95. doi: 10.1007/s11920-996-0006-2. PMID: 11122954.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11122954/