Sexual dysfunctions cover a wide variety of disorders, including impotence and premature or delayed ejaculation in males, spasms of the vagina, pain with sexual intercourse, and problems with sexual desire (libido) and response. Men over age 65 are at increased risk for impotence, although impotence is not a normal part of aging. The causes of sexual disorders vary and include psychological problems and some medical conditions, such as illness or injury. Sexual dysfunction can be temporary or long-lasting.
Signs and Symptoms
• Premature or delayed ejaculation in men
• Inability to achieve or maintain an erection (impotency)
• Pain during intercourse
• Lack or loss of sexual desire
• Difficulty achieving orgasm
• Inadequate vaginal lubrication in women
What Causes It?
• Age 65 and over in men
• Some prescription medications, including some antidepressants
• Hormonal imbalances
• Drug abuse
• Depression or anxiety
• Stressful life events
• Certain medical conditions
If sexual dysfunction is caused by depression, antidepressants may help. Viagra (sildenafil) can treat erectile dysfunction but does have potentially serious side effects in some men and should not be taken if you have heart disease. Cialis (Tadalafil) and Levitra (Vardenafil) work in similar fashion, but also have side effects. Vasodilators administered by injection are sometimes used for erectile dysfunction. Over-the-counter products are available as creams or gels for women whose bodies produce inadequate lubrication.
A variety of psychological, behavioral, and interpersonal therapies are also available for many sexual disorders.
Sexual dysfunction caused by decreased circulation, hormonal imbalance, depression, or anxiety may be reduced with alternative therapies. Unless noted, treatments are for both men and women.
Nutrition and Supplements
Vitamin C (250 - 500 mg one to two times per day) may be helpful for both men and women, as it increases blood flow. One study suggests vitamin C may increase libido in women.
Vitamin E (400 IU per day), B6 (50 - 100 mg per day), and zinc (30 mg per day) to support hormone production.
Essential fatty acids (1,000 mg three times per day), found in evening primrose oil, fish oil, and borage oil, help improve blood flow.
Magnesium (200 mg twice a day) supports hormone production.
B-complex (50 - 100 mg per day) helps reduce stress.
For women: DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone, 50 mg per day), a hormone produced by the body's adrenal gland, diminishes as women grow older. Some studies show DHEA may help restore libido in older women, but has no effect on younger women. DHEA is a powerful hormone that can convert into other hormones such as estrogen and testosterone once in the body. Do not use DHEA without a doctor's supervision.