Total mind and body wellness requires the optimization of both mental and physical health. Although most people do not consider sexuality as contributing that much to overall health, people inevitably experience issues ranging from frustration and depression to lowered self-esteem and self-worth when sexual response and satisfaction is disrupted. At The Wellness Institute, doctors specializing in sexual disorders will help you overcome problems such as erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalances or performance anxiety by addressing all forms of sexual dysfunction in a compassionate and understanding manner.
General Reasons for Sexual Dysfunction
Emotional issues can negatively affect the ability to enjoy a healthy sex life just as much as physical issues. Psychological problems related to depression, guilt, anxiety, past sexual abuse and phobias may also decrease sexual desire in men and women. Chronic physical factors such as smoking, heavy alcohol drinking and taking narcotics will produce physiological changes that induce a variety of sexual dysfunctions.
Diseases and disorders affecting the circulatory and endocrine system are known to interrupt a person’s normally healthy sexual life. High blood pressure, problems with prostate gland functioning, diabetic neuropathy and thyroid/pituitary problems are just a few medical issues underlying sexual dysfunction.
A comprehensive physical and mental evaluation is necessary to begin narrowing down possible reasons why someone is experiencing sexual difficulties when none previously existed. The Wellness Institute provides examinations that facilitate discovering why a problem is occurring and what sort of treatment plan will help correct the problem.
Specialists at the Wellness Institute successfully treat hundreds of cases of erectile dysfunction every year. As the most common complaint from men over the age of 50, ED is a treatable condition arising from numerous physical and emotional causes that are readily reversible. The inability of a man to maintain or develop an erection may stem from one of these disorders that prevents sufficient blood flow from reaching the penis:
- Nerve damage, specifically a nerve called the nervi erigentes
- Heart disease and/or artherosclerosis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Obesity/lack of exercise
- Spinal cord injury
- Low testosterone/andropause
- Medications such as antihypertensives, antidepressants, antihistamines and appetite suppressants
Psychological factors also play strong roles is causing erectile dysfunction. Fear of failing (performance anxiety), relationship issues, clinical depression, stress, guilt or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) commonly affect men who are diagnosed with ED. Since the ability for men to become sexually aroused enough to keep an erection involves the muscles, nerves, the brain, emotional state, hormones and blood vessel health, erectile dysfunction often occurs when one or more of these systems is not functioning optimally.
Examination and Tests
In addition to a physical examination, other tests may be performed to determine why you are suffering from ED. These tests include:
- Blood testing for diabetes, low testosterone, possible heart disease and other medical problems relevant to erectile dysfunction.
- Urinalysis testing for signs of abnormal blood sugar or excessive levels of protein or liver enzymes.
- Ultrasound procedures that allow doctors to see if the penis is receiving enough blood.
- Psychological screening for depression, anxiety or other possible mental health issues.
- Another test monitors the occurrence of nocturnal erections in order to determine whether the problem is physical or mental.
- Since the majority of males experience involuntary erections while asleep, the continued absence of nocturnal erections may indicate that the problem is probably physical in origin rather than emotional.
Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
The Wellness Institute offers several effective forms of treatment for problems related to ED and sexual dysfunction. Sometimes making simple lifestyle changes solves the problem, such as stopping smoking and drinking, losing weight, exercising and eating healthier foods. For men who are diabetic or recently diagnosed with diabetes, adopting a lifestyle conducive to regulating your blood sugar not only benefits your sex life but your also your physical well-being.
Certain medications may affect blood flow and inhibit maintenance of an erection. Men needing to take prescriptions for medical conditions may ask their doctor if it is possible to lower the dose or if another class of medicine can be substituted that might not produce symptoms of ED.
Behavioral modification and psychotherapy has been used successfully for men who suffer from performance anxiety or depression. If applicable, the patient’s partner may be asked to sit in on therapeutic sessions that are designed to replace negative thinking patterns with more rational patterns that perceive situations involving sexual activity as less restrictive or demanding.
Popular today with men experiencing ED are oral medications like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. Belonging to a group of drugs known as PDE (phosphodiesterase ) inhibitors, these pills work to develop and keep an erection by boosting the effects of a chemical in the blood called nitric oxide. By relaxing certain penile muscles during sexual activity, nitric oxide increases blood flow to the penis which helps maintain an erection.
Some risks are involved with taking PDE inhibitors, especially if the man is already using nitrate based medications to treat heart problems or if he is on a regimen of alpha-blockers for hypertension or prostate enlargement. Blood pressure may be adversely affected and a few instances of men developing vision or hearing problems have been reported as well.
A healthier alternative to taking medication is testosterone replacement. TRT helps men suffering from ED by elevating low testosterone levels that have been lost due to aging (andropause), chronic illness or an endocrine disorder. Important for proper bone growth and density, red blood cell production, attention and cognition, maintaining muscle tone and mood regulation, testosterone is also vital to optimal sexual functioning in males. In addition, low testosterone may also cause clinical problems like anemia, osteoporosis, increased body fat and loss of body hair.
At The Wellness Institute, we will find out if you require testosterone replacement therapy by performing simple blood tests to determine your normal level of testosterone. Replacement involves straightforward procedures such as injections, wearing a testosterone patch or taking testosterone tablets orally. Specialists may also suggest a nutritional supplements containing vitamins and minerals that promote healthy blood flow and enhances your overall physiology.
Sexual Dysfunction Problems Common to Women
Women coming to The Wellness Institute for help with sexual problems often complain of loss of sexual desire, pain during intercourse and vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes incurred as a result of menopause. Menopause and hormonal imbalances—specifically reduced levels of estrogen—are probably the most common reasons why women ask for our assistance.
Other hormones such as testosterone (yes, women have some testosterone) and progesterone also play a roll in a menopausal women experiencing a decreased sex drive. While estrogen is the primary booster of sexual sensitivity, progesterone is thought to be responsible for increasing desire while testosterone maintains vaginal lubrication to facilitate intercourse. When menopause or a hysterectomy causes production of these hormones to drop drastically, so does the desire to have sex.
Mood swings, fatigue, depression and hot flashes associated with menopause can further suppress a woman’s desire to participate in sexual activity. The severity of menopause symptoms differs greatly among women, with some experiencing only two or three bothersome symptoms while others suffer symptoms that are debilitating. Fortunately, most women will find relief at The Wellness Center by beginning hormone replacement therapy and changing certain, unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Benefits of HRT that supplements low estrogen levels due to declining reproductive organ functioning include:
- Improves sexual desire and satisfaction
- Enhances skin by stimulation production of collagen
- Reduces vaginal dryness
- May decrease the risk for some women to develop osteoporosis, hypertension and cancer
- Increases HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol because it maintains healthy endothelium (the inner walls of blood vessels) and scavenges for LDL cholesterol plaques responsible for clogging arteries.
Why is Sex So Good for Your Mental and Physical Health?
Although the primary reason for sex is biological, research into the health benefits of an active and satisfying sex life have clearly found that sexual activity well beyond menopause and andropause may lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, boost functioning of the immune system, burn calories. contribute to weight loss, improve heart health and reinforce a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Endocrinological studies on the benefits of sex have also discovered that a hormone called oxytocin is released in massive amounts during and after sex which enhances the ability of endorphins to relieve the pain of arthritis, headaches and muscle tension. In other words, having sex is like taking the ultimate happy pill!
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, lack of sexual desire or symptoms of menopause that prevent you from enjoying sexual intimacy, visit us at The Wellness Institute for a professional, insightful and sympathetic consultation session to discuss your conditions as well as potential procedures to successfully treat your specific sexual dysfunction.