Sexual intimacy is often described as one of the most pleasurable activities of life. But for many of us, that joy is curtailed when we are unable to become sexually aroused. We may think about sex, desire sex, and even dream about it. However, some of us, some of the time, when we are actually involved in a real life sexual encounter with a real live person, suddenly have difficulty becoming aroused.
In 1998, the first erection enhancement drug, Viagra, entered the marketplace and literally millions of men came forward to admit that sometimes they needed help to become aroused. Physicians now prescribe additional drugs, (Cialis and Levitra), each presenting additional benefits and varying side effects.
For those men who cannot take these drugs due to complications with other illnesses and medications (e.g., diabetes and hypertension), physicians might prescribe penile injections and even the surgically implanted vacuum pump. Although these drugs, injections or surgeries may help, they often do not override the psychological blocks to sexual arousal.
Arousal for women is sometimes more complex. They may have a vaginal or urinary infection that is preventing lubrication, creating dry skin, and causing painful intercourse. Women may have varying hormonal changes, such as those that occur before, during and after pregnancy and in peri-menopause and actual menopause. There are a variety of medical solutions currently being used with varying levels of success. These include testosterone patches, estring vaginal estrogen, estrogen and progesterone creams, pills, and they are even experimenting with hormonal nasal sprays. Some women retain vaginal pain from an episiotomy given to them during the birthing process. Other women are emotionally depressed or anxious which can interfere with sexual arousal.
Physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor treatments can often resolve vaginal pain, vaginismus (painful contractions), and other muscular tensions problems that interfere with arousal and enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Many other body therapies can help to alleviate the bodily tension patterns that may interfere with blood flow and decrease sexual arousal.
For both men and women, prescription medications can interfere with the body’s natural arousal process. Medication taken for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, some cancers, and other acute or chronic illnesses, can block arousal. Psychological medicines, such as Prozac and Zoloft can improve mood by increasing the level of serotonins, but this in turn can decrease sexual arousal.
Arousal problems can be exacerbated by unexpressed emotions, fears, insecurities and even physical discomforts. Psychotherapists, sex therapists and marriage and family therapists can help individuals and couples to better understand what is happening, why it might be happening, and some possible ways to overcome the problems. Even a few sex therapy sessions, with an experienced and qualified therapist, can help you to recognize your own thinking patterns that may be causing arousal problems.
If you are currently experiencing a problem with sexual arousal and have not talked to a professional about this problem, what are you waiting for? What is stopping you? What are you afraid of? The only thing to fear is fear itself. By facing the problem head on, admitting you have a problem and seeking help, very soon what was once a problem will be just a memory.