Sexual Dysfunction Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1858 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

¶ … sexual dysfunction. As many studies point out, sexual dysfunction is not unique and is a common occurrence for many couples in relationships. A standard definition is as follows: "Sexual problems are defined as difficulty during any stage of the sexual act (which includes desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution) that prevents the individual or couple from enjoying sexual activity" (Sexual problems overview).

A more formal and comprehensive definition of sexual dysfunction is from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Sexual dysfunction is defined as; inhibition in sexual appetite or psychophysiological changes interfering with a complete sexual response cycle. Individual dysfunctions included inhibited orgasm (male and female), inhibited sexual excitement, functional dyspareunia (painful sex), inhibited sexual desire, premature ejaculation, and functional vaginismus.

Johnson, Phelps, and Cottler)

There are many different views as to the main causative factors in sexual dysfunction. One commonly accepted viewpoint about this phenomenon is that, "Sexual functioning involves a unique combination of physical, emotional, and social expression..." (American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Patient's Fact Sheet: Sexual Dysfunction). This view is associated with the various psycho-social elements and factors that can play a significant role in this dysfunction.

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The research methods that are used to ascertain the causative aspect of sexual dysfunction range across a number of disciplines. The causes of this dysfunction are most often ascribed to a combination of aspects rather than a single factor. For example, factors such as upbringing, religious beliefs, emotions are considered in combination with a multitude of physiological factors such as "....hormones, anatomy, and illness" (American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Patient's Fact Sheet: Sexual Dysfunction)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Sexual Dysfunction Assignment

From another perspective, the problem of sexual dysfunction is also linked to the issue of infertility. In this sense sexual dysfunction is seen as a cause or a result of infertility. In this regard, psychological aspects such as stress, self-image and sexual demand are all factors that have to be taken into account when dealing with this problem. Age is another variable in this discussion and many studies find that that elderly people are still sexually active but that the extent of any sexual problems is not well documented.

Therefore, the fact that sexual dysfunction often involves a certain psychological dimension as well as physical aspects means that a wide range of methods have been used for the evaluation and the measurement of this phenomenon. This includes both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Quantitative medical and biological examinations are often the most common method of ascertaining the causative aspects of this problem. This usually includes a complete physical exam and sexual history. This might include the valuation of hormone levels and anatomical factors. As some studies note, "...Assessment methods now utilize techniques that allow for better diagnostic precision of concurrent physical conditions and also provide verification of sexual responses linked to sexual symptoms" (Aubin, and Heiman 488).

However, psychological aspects such as individual and marital stability, depression, other mood disorders or emotional problems, and a history of sexual abuse, have to be taken into account in the research methodology. These aspects therefore necessitate a more qualitative approach and interviews as well as descriptive and more open ended research techniques are often employed.

2. Literature review

There is a plethora of information from various databases, books and journals on this subject. More contemporary studies of sexual dysfunction tend to focus on the distribution and prevalence of sexual dysfunction and the way that that sexual dysfunction is 'constructed" by society; as well as the reasons for the differences in rates and types of sexual dysfunctions and the differences between the sexes. A study that explores, among others, the reasons the differences in males and females is, the Association of Sexual Dysfunction and Substance Use among a Community Epidemiological Sample by Johnson, Phelps, and Cottler. For example, this study finds that,

What is consistent across studies... is that sexual dysfunction is more prevalent among women than among men. In Iceland, a lifetime prevalence rate of 14.4% for sexual dysfunction was found in a general population study in which 73% of those with a dysfunction were women... In a U.S.-based population study, sexual dysfunction was prevalent in 43% of women and 31% of men

Johnson, Phelps, and Cottler)

However, the study also states that research methodologies are not uniform in this area. "...Because various methodologies have yielded varying rates among the population, the actual prevalence rate of sexual dysfunctions and difficulties in the general population is not clearly known" (Johnson, Phelps, and Cottler). This study also notes factors such as alcohol abuse as being associated with sexual dysfunction. The authors refers to studies that "...found that sexual dysfunction in females can precede as well as accompany alcoholism" (Johnson, Phelps, and Cottler).

A study by Aubin, and Heiman, 20 Sexual Dysfunction from a Relationship Perspective (2004) deals with the relationship between sexual dysfunction and the psychological aspects of relationships. This study deals with a variety of causative factors for sexual dysfunction in both males and females, including the fact that, "Hypoactive sexual desire is regarded by most authors as more prevalent in females than in males..." (Aubin, and Heiman 486). The study also includes information on sexual arousal disorders as well as orgasmic disorders and sexual pain disorders

Another study that focuses on the way that social and psycho-social aspects play a leading role in forms of sexual dysfunction is Sexual Dysfunction: A Neglected Complication of Panic Disorder and Social Phobia by Ivan Figueira, Elizabete Possidente, Carla Marques and Kelly Hayes. This study is focused on the relationship between sexual dysfunction and various comorbid anxiety disorders. The study also finds a close correlation between panic disorder syndrome and forms of sexual dysfunction. These results suggest that sexual dysfunctions are frequent and neglected complications of social phobia and panic disorder. (Figueira, Possidente, Marques, and Hayes 369)

An interesting study that refers to the way that sexuality is perceived and experience by the human psyche is Dysfunctional Sexual Beliefs as Vulnerability Factors for Sexual Dysfunction by Nobre and Pinto-Gouveia (2006). This study refers to the fact that although the effect of sexual beliefs and myths on sexual functioning is receiving some attention from clinical studies, they "...have not been submitted to systematic empirical test" (Nobre, and Pinto-Gouveia).

An important recent study entitled Dyspareunia Is the Only Valid Sexual Dysfunction and Certainly the Only Important One (2005) looks at the way that sexual dysfunction has been defined and contests this definition. The author criticizes the "... sexual dysfunction nomenclature in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association as it applies to women." (Tiefer) She sees the focus on genital-performance as a "reductionist" view.

Sexuality among the elderly is a common theme in the literature on this topic. A useful resource is Talking over the Years: A Handbook of Dynamic Psychotherapy with Older Adults by Sandra Evans and Jane Garner (2004). Among other findings this book refers to the link between diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia in elderly men and sexual dysfunction. (Evans and Garner 224) Another useful study in this regard is a Study of Sexuality and Health Among Older Adults in the United States (2007). This study found that, among others, many adults are sexually active and that the sexual relationships and sexual problems among this group are not well documented or reported.

3. Critical review number of aspects are evident from the above research. The first is that there is a general paucity of data on certain aspects of sexual dysfunction. This is particularly the case with regard to the elderly and as Lindau et al. (2007) state, the prevalence and the extent of sexual problems among this group is not well documented. What is clear however from other studies is that elderly people who are afflicted with dementia and other age-related problems often experience sexual problems.

What is very clear for the research is that sexual dysfunction in all age groups and genders is a combination of psychological and physical aspects. It is also clear that psychological aspects such as stress and depression have a definite and profound effect on sexual functioning and can be the cause of sexual dysfunction.

What is also evident from the above research is that there is a modern tendency to view sexual dysfunctionality in terms of numerous psych-social issues. For example, studies that refer to the way that the way we think or perceive sexuality in society is a central factor that has been found to determine various forms of sexual dysfunction.

Another very important aspect is the controversy about the definition of sexual dysfunction. As many critics assert, there is in the present definition of the term a certain bias that tends to reduce the female experience of sexuality and favor more male oriented views of sexuality and this impacts on the overall understanding of sexual dysfunction.

4. Conclusions

4.1. Sexual dysfunctional is a combination of psychological and physical factors.

4.2. Psychological aspects such as stress and tension and various emotional… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Sexual Dysfunction" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Sexual Dysfunction.  (2008, May 7).  Retrieved October 16, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Sexual Dysfunction."  7 May 2008.  Web.  16 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Sexual Dysfunction."  May 7, 2008.  Accessed October 16, 2021.