Sexual functioning is at the heart of an individual’s being and their relationships with others, whether these are same sex or opposite sex. Sexual functioning can help us connect with partners in different ways. In both physical illness and psychiatric disorders, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction can be quite high as part of the symptom profile, but also as a common, but poorly recognized, side effect of medication, whether this is used for physical conditions or psychiatric conditions.
Prevalence rates of sexual dysfunction are high, though data vary, depending upon from where the sample is collected. Often clinicians do not ask the right questions, and the problems remain unexplored and undiagnosed. However, it is important to identify, as the outcomes of the therapeutic treatment of sexual dysfunction are generally positive, partly due to treatability factors, but also as individuals are likely to be highly motivated.
The sexual cycle is generally seen as having four key components, and these include desire, followed by sexual excitement and arousal, the act itself and orgasm, followed by a refractory period. For both men and women, the general components remain the same, though the difficulties may arise in one or more stages. The contexts within which dysfunction may appear vary dramatically, and clinicians need to be aware of such a variation.