Sexual dysfunction is a common but rarely discussed cause of conflict in many happy marriages. Around 25.8% of women and 81.5% of men in Malaysia suffer from some degree of sexual dysfunction. However, the issue is often left unaddressed due to social taboos and lack of communication between the partners. Sexual dysfunction refers to any problem that prevents a person from enjoying sex regularly.
What are the Types of Sexual Dysfunctions?
Sexual dysfunction affects both men and women and may involve one or more of the following:
- Desire disorders: A person does not have an interest in sex or desire for sex.
- Arousal disorders: A person does not get aroused or excited during sex.
- Orgasm disorders: A person is not able to or takes a long time to climax.
- Pain disorders: A person experiences pain during sexual intercourse.
Men with this condition commonly experience difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection and early or delayed ejaculation. Women more frequently complain of inability to achieve an orgasm or inadequate vaginal lubrication and pain during sex.
Who is Affected by Sexual Dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can occur at any age but is more common after 40 years of age and is associated with ageing. “According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the common causatives for this condition are damp-heat, cold, blood deficiency, blood stasis, spleen-deficiency-induced phlegm and dampness, liver stagnation, kidney deficiency. All these are a result of our stressful working lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits,” explains Brandon Yew, a senior TCM physician at Real Health Medical Clinic in Singapore.
Jing (vital essence) represents the body’s capacity for creativity, growth, and reproduction and is particularly important for sexual health. It manifests as semen in men and menstrual blood in women.
Other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, hormonal disorders, kidney and liver failure, alcohol and drug abuse can also cause sexual dysfunction. Stress-related to work or marital problems, anxiety over sexual performance, depression, sexual trauma in the past, and body image concerns also play an important role in sexual dysfunction.
Many therapies used in Western medicine can also cause sexual dysfunction. Hence, it is essential to check with your medical practitioner if you take medicines to treat high blood pressure, depression, or hormonal disorders.
What Are the Treatments for Sexual Dysfunction?
It is important to consult your medical practitioner to ensure that the sexual dysfunction is not due to any serious underlying health problem or arising as a side-effect of medications.
Stress and unhealthy lifestyles contribute to sexual dysfunction. Physician Yew also notes that adequate rest and sleep, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a clean lifestyle without smoking and consuming excessive alcohol can help improve harmony in bed.
Herbal remedies and formulations such as Cordyceps can alleviate the symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Other formulations like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Shen Qi Wan, Cong Rong Bu Shen Wan, Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan, Zuo Gui Wan, and You Gui Wan help treat reduced libido. However, physician Yew reminds that there is no standard treatment for all patients in TCM. Treatment for each person is different and based on their specific body constitution.
“There is a TCM saying, ‘All medicines have their toxicity’. This implies that all medicine, no matter how natural or mild they are, have to be consumed with caution and in moderation. Never self-diagnose and self-medicate without proper consultation and guidance with a TCM professional,” he advises. As the saying goes, one man’s poison is another’s medicine.
Lubricating gels or creams and hormone therapy can help women who suffer from vaginal dryness, particularly after giving birth or menopause.
Your practitioner may prescribe hormone shots, pills, or creams to treat sexual dysfunction caused due to hormonal deficiencies, particularly in post-menopausal women. For men, drugs such as sildenafil may treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis. In women, too, there are new medicines that improve sexual desire.
Warning: All these medicines may have serious side effects. Use them only under the guidance of a medical practitioner.
Education and communication
Learning about sex and sexual behaviours can reduce anxieties about sex. Having an open dialogue with your partner about your needs and concerns helps to strengthen the marital bond and improve compatibility in bed. The couple can also seek the help of a counsellor to address any underlying issues.
Know about the different sexual dysfunctions affecting men and women and seek help from professionals. With traditional herbal remedies and modern-day medicine, it is not too difficult to keep things lively between the sheets!
Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Sexual Dysfunction. [Accessed 1 November 2021]
Chubak B, Doctor A. 2018. Traditional Chinese medicine for sexual dysfunction: Review of the evidence. Sexual Medicine Reviews. [Accessed 1 November 2021]
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