What are some sexual health problems that can affect males?

What are some sexual health problems that can affect males?

Which types of sexual dysfunction affect males?

This section looks at the different types of sexual problems a person may experience and how a person can treat them.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a recurring problem with achieving or maintaining an erection that is hard enough for sex.

According to the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), ED is the most common sexual problem that males report to a healthcare professional. UCF estimates that ED affects around 30 million males.

A person may haveTrusted Source ED if they:

  • cannot achieve an erection at any time
  • can achieve an erection, but it does not stay long enough to have sex
  • can achieve an erection sometimes, but not every time they wish to have sex

ED can be a symptom of another underlying condition or health-related factor. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), males with type 2 diabetes are 2–3 times more likely to develop ED than males without diabetes.

ED can affect older or younger males.

Learn about how age affects ED here.

Treating erectile dysfunction

Treatment for ED may include:

  • Lifestyle changes: A doctor may recommend exercise, healthy eating, and quitting smoking.
  • Medications: These can include medications that increase blood flow to the penis, such as Viagra. A doctor may prescribe testosterone if the person has low testosterone levels in their blood.
  • Penile injections or suppositories: Injecting medicine directly into the penis may help a person achieve an erection. A person can also insert a suppository into their urethra. Medications for this purpose include alprostadil and more.
  • Penis pumps: These are tube-like devices that can help create and sustain an erection by pulling blood into the penis.
  • Surgery: This should be a last resort if all other treatments have failed. Surgery may involve inserting penile implants to make the penis erect.
  • Low libido

    Low libido, or low sex drive, is a persistent lack of interest in sex or lack of sexual desire.

    It is not uncommon for sexual desire to increase and decrease throughout a person’s life, depending on hormones, age, mental health, and other circumstances.

    However, when low libido feels distressing or impacts relationships, a person may consider it a problem.

    Low libido may occurTrusted Source as a result of medical conditions such as underactive thyroid, low testosterone levels, depression, stress, or certain medications.

    Find out more about low libido in men and women here.

    Treating low libido

    A doctor or healthcare professional may recommend the following treatments:

    • Testosterone therapy: A 2017 study trusted Source found that testosterone therapy improved libido in men whose testosterone levels were low.
    • Medication: If low libido is a side effect of a medication, a doctor may suggest a change in prescription.
    • Treating underlying conditions: Treating any underlying conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, may also help to improve a person’s sex drive.
    • Exercise: A 2015 study showed that exercise could help men with low testosterone cope with low libido, relationship changes, and body image concerns.
    • Therapy or counseling: A doctor may recommend this if relationship problems or mental health issues could be causing low libido.

    Find out 10 natural ways to increase libido here.

    Premature ejaculation

    Premature ejaculation (PE) occurs when a male ejaculates earlier than they would like during sex. People may also refer to PE as premature climax, early ejaculation, or rapid ejaculation.

    In the United States, PE affects around 1 in 3 males aged 18–59. Although physical causes can lead to PE, it is usually a psychological issue.

    PE may occur due to:

    • low levels of serotonin in the brain, which can reduce the time it takes to ejaculate
    • depression
    • stress
    • anxiety about sexual performance
    • lack of confidence
    • relationship issues
    • aging

    Treating premature ejaculation

    If PE is causing problems in a relationship, making sex less enjoyable, or negatively affecting a person’s mental health, they can speak with a doctor to discuss treatment options.

    Treatment for PE may include:

    • psychological therapy or counseling
    • behavioral therapy to train the body to delay ejaculation
    • medications to affect serotonin levels
    • applying topical numbing creams or sprays to the penis to decrease sensation before having sex

    Find out about home remedies for premature ejaculation here.

    Delayed or inhibited ejaculation

    Delayed ejaculation, or inhibited ejaculation, occurs when a male is unable to ejaculate when they want to, it takes a long period of stimulation before they can ejaculate, or they are unable to ejaculate at all.

    Delayed or inhibited ejaculation may occur due to:

    • certain medications
    • alcohol and drug use
    • injury or surgery to the pelvis or genitals
    • hormonal conditions
    • multiple sclerosis
    • nerve damage
    • stress or tiredness
    • aging

    Treating delayed ejaculation

    Treatment for delayed ejaculation may include:

    • counseling or therapy
    • switching medications
    • vibrator or electrical stimulation of the penis to trigger ejaculation
    Retrograde ejaculation

    Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen travels backward into the bladder during ejaculation rather than out of the penis.

    Symptoms of retrograde ejaculation include having little to no ejaculation when reaching orgasm and urine appearing cloudy following orgasm.

    Retrograde ejaculation may happenTrusted Source as a result of:

    • certain medications, such as some antidepressants or drugs for urinary problems
    • surgical procedures that may affect nerve or vascular function
    • surgical procedures for prostate enlargement, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
    • nerve damage resulting from diabetes
    • medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis

    Treating retrograde ejaculation

    Treatment for retrograde ejaculation may include trusted Sources taking a type of medication called sympathomimetics. These stimulate the release of noradrenaline, which narrows the urethra and stops the semen from traveling backward.

    Generally, if patients develop retrograde ejaculation as a result of certain medications, the issue will subside when the medication is stopped.

    However, if it is a result of surgery, retrograde ejaculation is generally not reversible.


    What causes sexual dysfunction in males?

    A range of mental, emotional, or physical issues can cause sexual dysfunction in males. This section looks at some common causes.

    • Mental health: Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress can play a part in affecting sexual function.
    • Physical health: Physical health issues that may lead to sexual dysfunction can include hormone imbalances and diabetes. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, and using drugs can also cause sexual dysfunction.
    • Age: According to research, sexual dysfunction is common in males of all different ages, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, with 52% of males aged 40–70 experiencing sexual dysfunction to varying degrees. According to a 2019 review trusted Source, aging impacts sexual function. This may be due to the development or progression of certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular issues.
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