Sexual Disorder: What It Is, Types, Categories, Symptoms And More

The sexual dysfunction (sexual dysfunction or sexual dysfunction) is the difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple during any stage of a normal sexual activity, including physical pleasure, desire, preference, arousal or orgasm.

According to DSM-5, it requires a person to feel extreme distress and interpersonal tension for a minimum of 6 months (excluding substance or drug-induced sexual dysfunction). The disorders sex can have a profound impact on the perceived quality of sex life of an individual. The term not only refers to physical sexual dysfunction, but also to paraphilia; This is sometimes called a sexual preference disorder.

A thorough sexual history and evaluation of general health and other sexual problems (if any) are very important. Assessing anxiety , guilt, stress, and concern about performance are essential for optimal management of the sexual disorder.

What are the categories of sexual disorder?

They can be classified into four categories: sexual desire disorders, arousal disorders, orgasm disorders, and pain disorders.

Sexual desire disorders

Disorders of sexual desire or decreased libido are characterized by the lack or absence during some period of sexual desire, sexual activity or sexual fantasies. The condition ranges from a general lack of sexual desire to a lack of sexual desire for the current partner, it may have started after a period of normal sexual functioning or the person may have always / no low sexual desire. Read more information about: Disorders of sexual desire.

Sexual arousal disorders

They were previously known as frigidity in women and impotence in men, although impotence is now known as erectile dysfunction, and frigidity has been replaced by a series of terms that describe specific problems that can be divided into four categories as described by The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Lack of desire, Lack of arousal, Pain during intercourse, Lack of orgasm.

Causes can include psychological factors such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, distraction, or physical factors (or both). Inadequate sexual stimulation or the environment in which sexual activity takes place can also affect and contribute.

The type of disorder may be the consequence of a low estrogen level after postpartum or amneopause. Age-related reduction in testosterone or vulvar dystrophy (e.g. lichen sclerosus) may contribute, certain chronic disorders such as multiple sclerosis can damage autonomic or somatic nerves, leading to decreased congestion or sensation in the genital area. Complete content on Sexual Arousal Disorder.

Orgasm disorders

Orgasmic disorders, specifically anorgasmia, present as delays or no orgasm after a normal sexual arousal phase in at least 75 percent of sexual encounters. The disorder can have physical, psychological, or pharmacological origins.

A common physiological culprit for anorgasmia is menopause, where one in three women report problems obtaining an orgasm during post-menopausal sexual stimulation. For more information click on orgasm disorder.

Sexual pain disorders

Sexual pain disorders affect women almost exclusively and are also known as dyspareunia (painful intercourse) or vaginismus (an involuntary spasm of the muscles of the vaginal wall that interferes with sexual intercourse).

For women, symptoms of dyspareunia include pain in the vagina during sexual activity, either at the entrance to the vagina or further inside. Some experience vaginismus, which means that their vaginal muscles contract involuntarily during penetration, making the experience painful. Dr. Huang says that some women with vaginismus not only have pain during sex, but may also feel pain during routine gynecological exams. Get more content on sexual pain disorders.

Symptoms of sexual disorders

In men

  • Inability to have an erection (erectile dysfunction).
  • Absent or delayed ejaculation despite adequate sexual stimulation (delayed ejaculation).
  • Inability to control the moment of ejaculation (premature or premature ejaculation).

In women

  • Inability to reach orgasm.
  • Too little vaginal lubrication before and during intercourse.
  • Inability to relax or stimulate the vaginal muscles to allow intercourse.

In men and women

  • Lack of interest or desire for sex.
  • Inability to get aroused
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

What Causes a Sexual Disorder?

Physical causes

Many physical and / or medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function, these conditions include diabetes, heart and vascular (blood vessel) disease, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases such as kidney or liver failure, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Also, the side effects of some medications, including some antidepressants, can affect sexual function.

Psychological causes

They include work-related stress and anxiety , concerns about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression , feelings of guilt, concerns about body image, and the effects of past sexual trauma .

When to see your doctor?

When sexual problems keep happening, things can move forward if they don’t discuss it or seek some treatment. If the situation does not improve or you suspect a physical reason, it is time to see your doctor, where you should be prepared to provide a complete medical history, including a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications, tell your doctor the details of your trouble.

Your doctor will start with a physical exam, depending on the result, this may be followed by a diagnostic test, if they don’t find a physical cause, consider seeing a therapist.

Treatments for sexual disorders

One of the most common sexual dysfunctions, erectile dysfunction, is easily treated with medication. There are three FDA-approved drugs to treat erectile dysfunction: Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra, all three are available by prescription only and work by increasing blood flow to the penis. This allows for an easier erection in men when sexually stimulated.

Levitra works slightly longer than Viagra and both take effect in about 30 minutes. In both drugs, the effects can last between 4 and 5 hours, Cialis works a little faster (in about 15 minutes) and the effects can last much longer: up to 36 hours in some cases.

For other sexual disorders and concerns, psychotherapy is usually the best option, you should seek a therapist who is specialized or well experienced in sex therapy , a specific type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping a person or partner with their sexual problems. (Sex therapy does not involve any kind of sexual or physical interaction with the therapist.)

Psychotherapy is not critical, a professional therapist is there to help you address sexual concern, it is a safe and supportive environment.

Psychological sexual disorders

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder

It refers to a decrease in desire or interest in sexual activity. Low libido can be the result of physical or psychological factors. It has been associated with low levels of the hormone testosterone. Learn more about hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

Sexual aversion disorder

It is the phobic aversion or disgust and avoidance of sexual contact with a sexual partner that causes personal distress. This is the most serious form of sexual desire disorder. It involves a fear of sexual intercourse and an intense desire to avoid sexual situations altogether.

It is related to hypoactive sexual desire disorder, it has some of the same characteristics as a general lack of sexual desire, but it also includes an element that can be characterized as an anxiety disorder. Read more about sexual aversion disorder.

Female sexual arousal disorder

It refers to the persistent or recurrent inability of a woman to achieve or maintain an adequate lubrication-swelling response during sexual activity. This lack of physical response can be lifelong or acquired, and generalized or situation-specific. The results are often sexual avoidance, painful intercourse, and sexual tension in relationships. Complete content on female sexual arousal disorder.

Erectile dysfunction

Formerly called impotence, it is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection that is sufficient to ensure satisfactory sex for both parties. This problem can cause significant distress for couples. Read more about  Erectile Dysfunction.


Also known as Coughlan syndrome, it is defined as the inability of a patient to reach an orgasm even with adequate stimulation, it can also refer to long delays in achieving an orgasm, causing great concern or stress to the patient. This condition is seen more often in women, especially those in the postmenopausal age group. To know more: Anorgasmia.

Premature ejaculation

It occurs when a man has no control over ejaculation, and as a result, he and his partner are not sexually satisfied, it is when an orgasm or “climax” occurs earlier than desired. It can occur in as little as 30 seconds to a minute, and it can even occur before penetration, contrary to the unrealistic depictions seen in porn movies, the average time that passes before a man ejaculates during intercourse is four to five minutes.

Premature ejaculation can occur along with erectile dysfunction, but not always. Read the full article on  premature ejaculation.


It is the term used to describe pain before, during or after vaginal intercourse. There are many causes of dyspareunia, including physical ones, such as insufficient lubrication, a skin infection, illness, or surgery. Psychological causes like relationship problems, stress, and anxiety can also contribute and make things worse. More information about dyspareunia.


It is a condition that involves a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sex, have a gynecological exam, and insert a tampon.

When you try to insert an object such as a tampon, penis, or speculum into the vagina, it becomes tight due to an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. Everything you need to know about vaginismus.


Paraphilias are sexual behaviors in which unusual objects or settings are needed to achieve sexual arousal. Eight paraphilias are recognized, which are the following:


A fetish is sexual arousal in response to an object or part of the body that is not typically sexual, such as shoes or feet. They are more common in men.

Many people with fetishes must have the object of their attraction on hand or fantasize about it, alone or with a partner, in order to become sexually aroused, have an erection, and have an orgasm.

You can masturbate while holding, smelling, rubbing, or tasting the object, or you can ask your partner to use it or use it during sexual intercourse.


It is a sexual disorder, in which a person is sexually aroused by clothing of the opposite sex. Usually refers to men who dress in women’s clothing. Some men wear a single item or women’s clothing, such as underwear, while others must wear makeup and dress completely to get excited.


Also called sadistic personality disorder , it is a term that describes the experience of taking pleasure in inflicting pain, humiliation, degradation, cruelty, or watching others inflict these behaviors on another person. Often this pleasure is sexual in nature, although this is not always the case, people who enjoy these acts are known as sadists.

In some cases, these people may commit illegal acts such as rape, torture, and murder for sexual satisfaction.


It is a disorder in which individuals use sexual fantasies, impulses, or behaviors that involve the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, or made to suffer to achieve sexual arousal and climax.

These acts may be limited to verbal humiliation, or they may involve being beaten, tied up, or otherwise abused. Masochists may act out their fantasies about themselves, such as cutting or piercing their skin, or burning themselves, or they may seek out a partner who enjoys inflicting pain or humiliation on others (sadistic).


It is the act of touching or rubbing the genitals against another person in a sexual way without their consent, in order to derive sexual pleasure or achieve orgasm. Those who practice it enjoy experiencing a private sexual experience in a public setting.

Although it can occur at any age, the problem is seen most often in young, seemingly shy men between the ages of 15 and 25, but it has also been seen in older, reserved, and socially withdrawn men. It is rare among women.


Exhibitionism, also known as exhibitionist disorder, is a paraphilia in which a person derives sexual arousal from the act or fantasy of exposing their genitals to strangers who do not accept consent. In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrators of exhibitionist acts are men and the victims are women. However, new research suggests that there are women who also use exhibitionism as a way to rebel against societal expectations that women be sexually passive and receptive.

The individual with this problem, sometimes called “intermittent,” feels the need to surprise or impress his victims. The condition is generally limited to exposure, with no other harmful advances being made, although “indecent exposure” is illegal. Actual sexual contact with the victim is rare. However, the person may masturbate while exposing himself or while fantasizing about exposing himself.


It is a sexual disorder in which a person derives pleasure and gratification from looking at naked bodies and genitalia or by observing the sexual acts of others. It is generally hidden from view of others.

A variant of voyeurism involves listening to erotic conversations, this is commonly known as phone sex.


Also called pedophile disorder, psychosexual disorder, which generally affects adults, characterized by sexual fantasies or attempts to participate in sexual acts with a child of the same or opposite sex.

For more information visit: Paraphilias.

Gender identity disorders

They are defined as disorders in which an individual exhibits strong and persistent identification with the opposite sex and persistent discomfort (dysphoria) with their own sex or a sense of inadequacy in the gender role of that sex. Read more about gender identity disorders.

Website | + posts

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *