The San Diego Psychological Center, Inc. is an organization consisting of psychologists and other mental health professionals dedicated to finding creative solutions for life’s challenges.

Sexual dysfunction is when an individual or a couple experience extreme distress as a result of problems with their sexual activity. This could happen during the stage of physical pleasure, desire, preference, arousal or orgasm. Now if the difficulty is due to drugs, either prescribed or otherwise, it would require a different path to treatment. Having difficulties in these areas clearly causes concern in one’s life and should warrant consultation and treatment. Treatment of sexual dysfunctions are quite successful in most cases, if you stick to therapy and follow the recommendations as suggested. These are the recommended treatment steps by American Psychological Association ( http://www.apa.org/topics/sex/treatment.aspx) that we use at our center.

The goal of sex therapy is to provide a safe environment within which individuals and couples can obtain the tools and information they need in order to achieve fulfilling sexual interactions. It is directive (exercises are assigned to be completed at home); time limited (usually 3-6 months); goal oriented (increasing sexual satisfaction).

What follows is a short list of some of the sexual disorders one may experience:

Lack of desire
This increasingly common problem occurs when people lack any interest in sexual fantasies or activity and suffer distress or relationship problems as a result. Treatment is a multi-step process. Therapists begin by helping clients identify negative attitudes about sex, explore the origins of those ideas and find new ways of thinking about sex. The focus then shifts to behavior: therapists may ask clients to keep diaries of their sexual thoughts, watch erotic films or develop fantasies. Therapists also address any relationship problems.

Erectile dysfunction

When the penis fails to become or stay erect, intercourse becomes impossible. The cause is typically a mix of physical and psychological factors. Physical causes include illnesses like diabetes or medication side effects. One of the main psychological causes is performance anxiety. After the first incident, men sometimes get so nervous the problem occurs again. Therapy focuses on reducing anxiety by taking the focus off intercourse. For men with physical problems, medication or devices can help.

Premature ejaculation
Ejaculation is premature when it occurs so soon after intercourse begins that it causes emotional distress. While the causes still aren’t understood, treatment works in almost all cases. Therapy focuses on behavioral training. With his partner’s help, the man learns to withstand stimulation for longer and longer periods.

Painful intercourse

Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia, is recurrent or persistent genital pain that causes significant distress or relationship problems. Most cases – especially among men – involve a physical problem. A urologist or gynecologist should rule out or address any medical concerns. For women, the typical treatment focuses on relaxation training.