Sexual Enhancement Treatments
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There are many ways to treat sexual dysfunction, including counseling, treatment of other physical problems, mechanical devices, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements. Here is a quick overview of some of these different options.

Sexual Dysfunction
The cause of sexual dysfunction can be physical or psychological. Physical causes include several health conditions, such as heart disease , diabetes, injury, surgery, or hormonal imbalances. Side effects of medications used to treat these conditions or other conditions can also have negative sexual side effects. Psychological causes can include stress , anxiety , marital problems, depression , and previous traumatic sexual experiences.

Whether it affects arousal, performance, or climax, sexual dysfunction is a real problem for the men and women who have it. Once the problem is identified, sexual dysfunction may resolve on its own, or it may respond to treatment or resolution of the underlying condition.

Sexual Enhancement Drugs
Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra) may be used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. However, those who take nitrate medication should be aware that taking both nitrates and these sexual enhancement drugs can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

Alternative Sexual Enhancement Therapies
Certain natural remedies may be helpful for sexual dysfunction. For example, the herb Korean red ginseng may be helpful for men who have ED, and the hormone DHEA may be helpful in improving sexual function in older women.

Note: Since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these products, their purity and safety is often in question. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine advises that no complementary health therapies have proven to be safe and effective. In fact, safety is a serious concern with regard to dietary supplements promoted for ED or sexual enhancement. Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.

Other Treatments
In addition to medications and natural remedies, examples of other treatment options include:

  • Couples therapy sessions to address emotional and relationship issues that may be causing sexual dysfunction
  • Vacuum devices for men to increase blood flow to the genitals to help with arousal difficulties
  • Hormone therapy to treat hormonal insufficiencies that are involved in some cases of sexual dysfunction
If you are having problems with sexual function, remember it is treatable. Make an appointment to talk with your doctor so you can find a safe treatment plan that works for you.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States


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Last Reviewed January 2014

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