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22 Feb

article and features

Men's sex problems

Around 1 in 10 men experience sexual problems.

Men's sexual problems can happen at any time of life, but become more common with age.

Most sexual problems can be treated - so seek medical advice if you have concerns.

Men's sex problems include:

    Erectile dysfunction - sometimes called impotence - is a problem getting and keeping an erection for sex

Premature ejaculation, this is coming sooner than he'd like to during sex
    Inhibited ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, when the man is slow to ejaculate

Retrograde ejaculation, where the ejaculation goes into the bladder instead of out of the penis
    Less interest in sex, loss of sex drive or libido.

What causes men's sexual problems?

Men's sex problems may be due to:

    Physical causes, including diabetes, heart disease and other long-term health conditions
    Alcohol abuse
    Drug abuse
    Medication side-effects, including some antidepressants
    Worries over sexual performance, unrealistic expectations about sexual performance
    Relationship problems
    Low testosterone
    Past traumatic sexual experiences.

How are men's sex problems diagnosed?

A doctor will ask about symptoms, review a man's medical history and may carry out a physical examination.

A GP or sexual health clinic may be able to make a diagnosis - or a referral may be made to specialists for further assessments, tests or treatment.

Specialists who may help with men's sex problems include:

    Urologists, who specialise in the urinary tract and reproductive system
    Endocrinologists, who specialise in conditions affecting hormones
    Neurologists, who specialise in the body's nerve networks
    Sex therapists or counsellors
    Mental health specialists.

What tests are used to diagnose men's sex problems?

Diagnostic tests for men's sex problems include:

    Blood tests, to identify any hormone problems, such as low testosterone, and any undiagnosed medical problems, such as diabetes
    Checking blood flow to the penis for any blockages or restrictions
    Nerve checks, for any loss of sensation, such as complications of diabetes
    Night-time penis rigidity tests, to check if natural erections that happen at night are stronger than a man may experience while awake, which may suggest psychological causes.

How are men's sex problems treated?

Treatment will depend on what's found to be causing the problem.

Approaches may include:

    Treating underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to sex problems
    Medication, injections, gel, or pellets to improve erections
    Hormone treatment to correct any imbalances, such as testosterone replacement therapy
    Psychological therapy, counselling or sex therapy, to discuss issues and help with anxiety or stress around having sex, which may involve the man's partner
    Mechanical devices to help create erections, including vacuum devices or penile implants.

Can men's sex problems be cured?

In many cases treatment can address sex problems - but the success of treatment will depend on the causes and the approach taken.

Can men's sex problems be prevented?

Men's sex problems can't always be prevented, but there are steps that can be taken to help maintain a healthy sex life by looking after health in general.

These include:

    Sticking to alcohol guidelines
    Quitting smoking
    Avoiding recreational drug use
    Avoiding stress, relaxing more
    Talking to a partner about concerns or problems.