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611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

NurseWise 24-Hr Crisis Line
1-866-495-6735

NAZCARE Warm Line
1-888-404-5530


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Sexuality & Sexual Problems
Basic Information

Sexuality & Sexual Problems

Across time, shame and taboo have been associated with sexuality, perhaps contributing its mystery. Whatever the reasons, sexuality remains a topic that is under-discussed. The purpose of this paper is to provide general information about what constitutes healthy sexuality vs. what constitutes disordered sexuality.

In 1785 William Cowper wrote a poem entitled "The Task." From this poem emerged a commonly-used saying: Variety is the Spice of Life. Sexuality is no stranger to variety and when we speak of "normal" sexuality, it may be useful to keep this saying in mind. People often wonder what constitutes normal, healthy sexuality. When it comes to sexuality, defining what is normal, and what is not, is quite complicated because there is such tremendous variety in sexuality.

Defining "normal" sexuality is further complicated because we often use the words, "normal" and "healthy" to mean the same thing. While "normal" and "healthy" may often refer to the same thing, the...

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is healthy sexuality?

  • In an ongoing sexual relationship, both partners should be aware of the important role that sex plays in their lives.
  • While it is important not to make sex an exaggerated area of focus, it is certainly important to recognize sexuality as a natural part of being human.
  • Healthy and natural sexuality should also include an acceptance of our animal nature and a positive attitude toward our bodies, our nudity, and our sexual urges.
  • One formal definition includes having an appreciation for one's own body, seeking out knowledge regarding reproduction, understanding that human development includes sexual development, interacting with both genders respectfully and appropriately, understanding and respecting sexual orientation, appropriately expressing love and intimacy, and developing and maintaining meaningful relationships while avoiding exploitative or manipulative ones.
  • Healthy sexuality has also been suggested to include components of communication and acceptance of love, expressing emotion and giving and receiving pleasure, having the ability to enjoy and control sexual and reproductive behavior without feelings of guilt, fear, or shame.
  • It is important to be aware that there are differences in sexuality based on gender and also that sexuality changes throughout the lifespan and these changes must be understood.

For more information

What are the risk factors for sexual dysfunction?

  • There are general biological and psychological risk factors associated with all sexual disorders.
  • Wincze, Bach, and Barlow (2008) have categorized risk factors into the following categories: direct biological risk factors, indirect biological risk factors, psychosocial risk factors, and relationship factors.
  • There are several direct, biological risk factors (vascular disease, diabetes, hormone levels, alcohol, and medications) that may contribute to sexual dysfunction.
  • In terms of indirect biological risk factors, the natural aging process and certain lifestyle choices create indirect risk factors for sexual dysfunction. For example, smoking indirectly increases risk because it increases the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. which are direct biologic risk factors.
  • Psychosocial risk factors include psychological disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders), emotions (i.e., anxiety), maladaptive thoughts (i.e., being distracted during sex), and negative attitudes towards sex (i.e., masturbation is dirty, premarital sex is wrong, sex within marriage is solely for the purpose of procreation).
  • Additionally, racial, ethnic, and religious background, impact what we believe and expect with regard to sex.

For more information

What types of sexual disorders are there?

  • Masters and Johnson established the three-phase Sexual Response Cycle consisting of Desire, Arousal, and Orgasm.
  • Sexual Disorders are grouped or classified according to these three phases of the Sexual Response Cycle.
  • Sexual dysfunction includes three important components: 1) a disruption in one or more of the three phases described above, 2) distress regarding the disruption, and 3) a disturbance in interpersonal relationships.
  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire simply translated is, low sexual desire.
  • Sexual Aversion Disorder includes fear, anxiety, or disgust at the mere prospect of a sexual encounter. For more information
  • There are two very different types of Female Arousal Disorders for women: subjective and physiological.
  • Erectile dysfunction, or "ED" as it is commonly know, is defined as an inability to achieve and/or maintain a satisfactory erection necessary for the completion of sexual activity.
  • Both female and male orgasmic disorder are defined as a persistent delay or absence of orgasm after a normal excitation phase.
  • The American Urological Association has defined premature ejaculation as ejaculation that occurs sooner than desired, either before or after penetration, and causes distress in one or both partners.
  • There are two sexual pain disorders: dyspareunia and vaginismus.
  • For a paraphilia to be diagnosed, the behavior must cause distress, or impairment of social, occupational, or other functioning, in order to be considered a disorder. Paraphilias include exhibitionism, fetishism, transvestic fetishism, frotterism, pedophilia, sexual masochism & sexual sadism, and voyeurism.
  • Gender identity disorder includes strong and persistent cross-gender identification.

For more information

What self-help strategies can be used for sexual health?

  • Sexual health should not be taken for granted, and many sexual disorders are not easily prevented.
  • There are many self-help steps that can be taken and that are beneficial because they may: 1) maintain or improve one's sexual health, 2) reduce the risk of developing a sexual disorder, or 3) limit the negative impact of having a sexual disorder.
  • Get Regular Medical Screening & Evaluation - it is important that you establish a comfort level with your health care provider(s) so that you can ask questions and receive appropriate screenings.
  • Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices - Choosing not to smoke and limiting alcohol consumption can both help improve sexual health and function. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can do wonders for circulation which in turn can help to improve sexual health. Being aware of medical conditions and medications and their side-effects that can foster sexual dysfunction is also important.
  • Maintain a Healthy Body Image - body-image dissatisfaction is related to sexual dissatisfaction, avoidance of sexual activities, sexual distress, and feeling sexually unskilled.
  • Increase Physical Comfort - Some surprisingly simple things can make sexual activity more comfortable.
  • Increase Intimacy & Passion In Your Relationships - Anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows that with the passage of time, passion can dwindle. Therefore, it is important keep in mind the idea of relationship maintenance.
  • Educate Yourself: Become A "S-Expert" - Education can solve many problems that occur when people have false or misleading expectations of themselves, or their partner.

For more information


 
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