Most men experience some form of sexual dysfunction at one point or another.
Male sexual health disorders are common, but most of them are treatable and preventable.
The first approach toward optimal sexual health is being educated about different male sexual disorders, their symptoms, causes, potential to affect male fertility, and treatment options.
That’s exactly what you are going to learn in this post. Read on to see more.
What affects male sexual health?
Male sexual health and performance depend on a wide range of factors.
Some of the most significant factors that play a role in your sexual health include:
- General health status
- Genitourinary disease
- Cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases
- Psychiatric/psychological conditions
- Sociodemographic conditions
- Physical activity levels
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Hormone levels, particularly testosterone
- Drug abuse
- Blood vessel disorders such as atherosclerosis and hypertension (high blood pressure)
As you can see, various factors can affect your sexual functioning and reproductive health.
We can categorize them into physical, psychological, and environmental.
Basically, your lifestyle plays an important role in your sexual health and whether you may develop a male sexual disorder.
Male Sexual Disorders
Several sexual disorders can affect men and impair their sexual performance and overall quality of life.
Below, we’re going to address each of the conditions playing a role in men’s sexual health.
As one of the most prevalent sexual dysfunctions, ED affects about 30 million men in the United States, and its prevalence increases with age.
It’s needless to mention that this condition takes its toll on a man’s sex life if not treated adequately. The condition may occur due to any problem with erectile function.
Increased blood flow to the penis causes an erection. Blow flows to penile chambers due to sexual stimulation such as direct contact with the penis or sexual thoughts.
In most cases, ED happens due to obstructed blood flow caused by vascular problems. A combination of psychological and physical issues is also involved.
Risk factors that make you more prone to ED include being overweight/obese, Peyronie’s disease, tobacco use, alcohol use, stress, anxiety, depression, injuries to nerves or arteries that control erections, certain medications, and treatments, including those for enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer treatment.
Symptoms of ED are easy to recognize. They include the inability to get and maintain erection and low sexual desire.
The treatment of ED depends on the cause. If erectile problems occur due to other health conditions, treatment of underlying disease can help. The doctor may prescribe medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), avanafil (Stendra). Penis pumps and penile implants may also be necessary for some patients. Like other problems, ED treatment also requires lifestyle modifications.
Low libido is a reduced interest in sexual activity. This sexual problem can affect men and women alike. While it’s normal for libido to vary or go up and down, low libido is marked with persistently decreased interest in engaging in sexual activities.
It is not the same as erectile dysfunction, even though the two conditions can coexist and affect sexual behavior. In some cases, the cause of libido is a single factor, but in most instances, a combination of factors is involved.
The most common causes of low libido are low testosterone, depression, medications, stress, and chronic illness including chronic pain. Low self-esteem, anxiety, negative body image, unresolved relationship conflicts, and lack of trust can also contribute to low libido. In women, birth control is a risk factor in addition to the abovementioned causes.
Treatment of low libido depends on the cause. For example, in men with low testosterone, hormone replacement could help. Other treatment options include psychotherapy, medications adjustment, and lifestyle changes.
Male hypogonadism, low testosterone, is a condition wherein testicles fail to produce enough testosterone.
Also known as low-T or testosterone deficiency syndrome, low testosterone happens when a man has less than 300 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter) of this hormone.
Generally speaking, men start gradually losing testosterone as they age. But in this condition, levels of this hormone are low constantly.
It would be impossible to pinpoint a specific cause of a low testosterone level. A combination of different causes is likely to contribute to this problem.
Common causes include injury or orchitis (infection of the testicles), chemotherapy, aging, severe primary hypothyroidism, obstructive sleep apnea, overweight or obesity, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, alcohol abuse, pituitary gland dysfunction, or tumor, liver cirrhosis, chronic kidney failure, among others.
Moreover, symptoms of low testosterone are numerous, too. The most common symptoms include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased muscular strength
- Reduced sense of wellbeing
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Low semen volume
- Hair loss
- Increased body fat
- Reduced bone mass
- Low blood counts
The primary route of treatment of low testosterone is hormone replacement therapy.
However, this is only prescribed to some men as testosterone replacement can come with numerous side effects. Lifestyle modifications are helpful for men with low T.
These include weight loss, regular exercise, stress management, quitting smoking and alcohol, and managing the underlying cause of low T.
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While women usually have this condition, men can develop it as well because they also have estrogen and progesterone.
The latter is produced in testicular and adrenal tissue.
As men age, the decreasing progesterone levels contribute to a decline in testosterone production. What happens next is that estrogen dominance takes place.
Additionally, environmental exposure to xenoestrogens can contribute to estrogen dominance too.
Xenoestrogens are estrogenic compounds usually found in some pesticides, fuels, drugs, among other things. That’s why young men can have this problem too.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance range from lethargy, abdominal weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, mood swings, insomnia, low libido, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Improving hormone levels with progesterone cream is a common treatment approach.
Ejaculatory dysfunction is defined as an inability or difficulty to ejaculate semen efficiently from the penis during sexual climax.
Of all sexual disorders, ejaculatory dysfunction is the most prevalent, and it is considered a common cause of male infertility.
Most people think ejaculatory dysfunction is a single condition wherein a man doesn’t get to last longer during intercourse.
However, there are several ejaculation problems, and it’s important to learn more about them. These include premature ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and anejaculation.
Premature ejaculation (PE) is a condition wherein a man ejaculates faster during sexual intercourse than he (and his partner) would like.
As a common sexual complaint, premature ejaculation may affect one in three men at some point in their lives.
The exact cause of premature ejaculation is unclear, but a combination of biological and psychological causes could be involved.
Biological causes include abnormal hormone levels, inherited traits, inflammation and infection of the urethra or prostate, and abnormal levels of neurotransmitters.
Psychological causes of PE include poor body image, sexual abuse, depression, worrying about premature ejaculation, relationship problems, and anxiety.
The main symptom of premature ejaculation is ejaculating within a minute after penetration. The problem may occur with masturbation too.
The most common treatment approach for premature ejaculation is a combination of behavioral techniques, medications and counseling, and topical anesthetics.
In retrograde ejaculation, semen enters the bladder instead of leaving through the penis during orgasm. Even though a man can still achieve an orgasm, he will ejaculate little to no semen in the process. For that reason, retrograde ejaculation is often referred to as dry orgasm.
The condition happens because the bladder neck muscle fails to tighten adequately.
Bladder neck surgery, some medications, and nerve damage caused by health conditions such as diabetes are potential causes of retrograde ejaculation.
Common symptoms of retrograde ejaculation include little to no semen, cloudy urine, and infertility.
Unless it affects fertility, retrograde ejaculation doesn’t need a specific treatment. Some men may receive a prescription for drugs that keep bladder neck muscles closed during ejaculation. These medications are formulated for other conditions, not retrograde ejaculation.
Also known as impaired ejaculation, delayed ejaculation is when a man needs an extended amount of time to achieve an orgasm and ejaculate.
Some men do not ejaculate at all. In some cases, the problem is short-term or temporary, but it’s a lifelong condition in some men.
Some medications, surgeries, and certain health conditions can contribute to delayed ejaculation. A combination of physical and psychological factors could be involved here.
Some men may need over 30 minutes to climax and ejaculate. Lifelong or acquired delayed ejaculation occurs after a period of normal sexual function.
Generalized or situational delayed ejaculation happens under certain circumstances only. Treatment of this ejaculation problem depends on the underlying cause.
It usually includes medications and counseling. If a medication is the cause of delayed ejaculation, the urologist may tweak the dose or change it entirely.
There are no medications specific to delayed ejaculation, but the doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, allergy medication, and Parkinson’s disease medication.
Anejaculation is the inability to ejaculate at all. A man with this condition produces sperm but can’t expel it, despite achieving an orgasm. Anejaculation happens when the prostate and seminal ducts don’t release semen into the urethra.
This can be due to several factors, including spinal cord injuries, medications such as alpha-blockers, traumatic injury, or infection to the groin area.
Conditions that affect the nervous system, e.g., Parkinson’s disease, spina bifida, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis, may also contribute to anejaculation.
Surgeries to the prostate, abdomen, and bladder may increase the risk of anejaculation.
In situational anejaculation, a man can ejaculate in specific situations, not in others. Stress is the biggest culprit here. Total anejaculation happens when a man doesn’t ejaculate ever. Anejaculation treatment depends on the goals of the patient.
Artificial insemination can help retrieve sperm in men who want to have children. Psychological or sexual counseling is often a helpful treatment method.
Cancer affecting the genital area can also cause sexual problems and affect a man’s performance, confidence, and quality of life. These cancers include penile and testicular cancer.
Penile cancer is a relatively uncommon type of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, this type of cancer affects one in 100,000 men, and it accounts for less than 1% of cancers diagnosed in U.S. men.
There are several types of penile cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common of them all.
While the exact cause of penile cancer is unknown, the disease is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Other risk factors include being uncircumcised, advancing age, smoking, weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, phimosis, psoriasis treatment with UV light.
Phimosis is a condition characterized by a thickened and tight foreskin that is tough to clean.
The main symptoms of penile cancer include growth or sore that doesn’t heal quickly, rash, smelly discharge, phimosis, bleeding from the penis, irregular swelling at the end of the penis.
If caught in the early stages, penile cancer is treatable. These cancer treatment options may include medications, cryotherapy, Mohs surgery, circumcision, and laser therapy.
Testicular cancer is a condition indicated by the development of cancerous cells in the tissues of a testicle.
In most cases, only one testicle is affected. Rare are the instances when both testicles develop cancer. The prevalence of testicular cancer is higher than that of penile cancer. One in 250 men will develop testicular cancer at some point in his life, according to the American Cancer Society.
We can divide testicular cancer into two main types called seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma develops from young germ cells and is marked by slow growth. This cancer is generally immobile. On the other hand, non-seminoma develops from mature germ cells and tends to be more aggressive.
The exact cause of the testicular factor is unclear. Various factors increase the risk of this condition, including cryptorchidism (undescended testicle), abnormal development of a testicle, family history, being white, and advancing age.
The most common symptoms of testicular cancer include a lump in the testicle, feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, back pain, tenderness or enlargement in breasts, pain or discomfort in the testicle, collection of fluid in the scrotum, dull ache in groin and abdomen.
Testicular cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer and the overall health of a patient.
A doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected testicle (radical inguinal orchiectomy) or remove nearby lymph nodes (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection).
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Male sexual disorders are numerous, and most of them are not that difficult to manage. Cancers of the testicles and penis are serious conditions that we can adequately treat with timely diagnosis.
Sexual health depends on the quality of your lifestyle, so always make wise and healthy choices. Above all, male sexual health should not be ignored.