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Unable to perform

A common misconception exists that only older people experience sexual dysfunctions. However, according to Melvin James, sex therapist and adjunct professor at USF, both genders of all races and ages may encounter difficulties performing sexual activities.

“College students see the whole range of them,” James said.James said the majority of sexual dysfunctions fit into four categories: sexual desire, sexual arousal, pain disorders and orgasmic disorders.

“All four major areas are experienced by a good number of people,” he said.

The causes of these dysfunctions range from medication one may be taking to one’s upbringing. He said the treatment for the problem is based on the cause.

James said some of the reasons for lack of sexual desire could be a traumatic experience or even a religious perspective, which may have resulted in an aversion toward anything sexual. Some medications, such as certain antidepressants or diabetic drugs, can impact the nervous system, which in turn can affect sexual abilities. In some cases, auto accidents cause injuries to the spine which can affect a male’s ability to get an erection, James said. Also, the lack of testosterone in both men and women may contribute to sexual-related issues. Even stress or anxiety can prevent an orgasm.

James said if someone is suffering from a sexual dysfunction due to a psychological problem, therapy helps to work through the cognitive process. The individual may also discuss and work through emotional and religious issues or his or her upbringing.Although these disorders can be cured, James said people who have attended college tend to be more willing to get help if they are experiencing problems because of their education.

“Being in college provides a certain degree of education about issues,” James said. “Those who don’t go to college still hold the views they had prior.”

James said when people approach their late 20s and early 30s their relationships become more stable and this is generally when they go to get help.

“There’s always that feeling that, ‘Oh, I’ll get over it,'” James said. “But the issues don’t really go away by themselves.”

James said if one is experiencing sexual difficulties, he or she should make an appointment with a general physician, who will most likely refer someone to an expert.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

According to the Syked! Web site, which specializes in psychiatric disorders, this disorder consists of “deficient or absent sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity” which is not due to another disorder or problem. The dysfunction may be due to childhood issues or underlying problems and may be resolved through therapy. It may be temporary or may last until the issues are resolved.

Sexual Aversion Disorder refers to sexual aversion as the avoidance of sexual activity, which may result in panic or anxiety attacks. This dysfunction may also be derived from a childhood traumatic experience and may be treated by identifying and dealing with the issue.

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder

This disorder involves the “inability to maintain or attain until completion of sexual activity adequate lubrication in response to sexual excitement.” According to the Syked! Web site, it may be related to relationship issues and/or sexual abuse. Treatment includes therapy and addressing childhood issues.

Male Erectile Disorder

Formerly known as impotence, the Viagra drug has brought this once-embarrassing disorder to the limelight. It involves the inability of a male to attain or keep an erection. This disorder may be caused by medical problems but is also related to such concerns as “performance anxiety,” according to Treatment can involve the progression of sex, eventually leading to penetration.

Female Orgasmic Disorder

Females experiencing this disorder may suffer from the delay of an orgasm during or after sexual activity and can be due to anxiety or fears. Treatment involves addressing the issues causing the disorder.

Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation deals with “ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation before or after penetration and before the person wishes,” according to Problems such as stress in a relationship, anxieties or intimacy issues can create this dysfunction. It occurs often and is a recurring problem, although it can be treated with education and relaxation training, said.


Occurring in males or females, this disorder is associated with persistent pain in the genital area before, during or after sexual activity. According to, rape victims may suffer from this, but it can be treated through therapy.


This disorder includes spasms of the vaginal muscles that interfere with sexual activity and cause persistent pain, according to The Web site said sexual abuse victims and those with strict religious upbringings may suffer from this, and it can be treated with therapy.

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