What is the incidence of sexual problems and why study them?

It is estimated that 43% of all women suffer from some form of sexual problem or complaint. Low desire or hypoactive sexual desire disorders are the most common forms of sexual complaint. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 40100% of female cancer survivors suffer from sexual problems that cause personal distress. Women with any chronic medical illness including hypertension[1], diabetes, or endocrinopathies all suffer from sexual complaints. The data do support the fact that as women age, the incidence of sexual complaints increases (however, older women are less bothered by the problems than their younger counterparts are). Although many women have sexual issues and problems, many do not complain and many suffer in silence. Clearly, only women who are bothered or distressed by their sexual healthcare concerns should seek professional medical care and treatment.

According to a recent article titled "Survey Says Patients Expect Little Physician Help On Sex." published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

• 85% of adults would like to discuss sexual functioning with their physician; however, they do not for many reasons.

• 71% believe their physician would not want or have the time to deal with sexual problems.

• 68% of adults are concerned about embarrassing their physician.

• 76% thought no treatment was available for their problems.

There is a need for accurate medical information concerning the diagnosis, assessment, and effective treatment of sexual complaints. Busy healthcare providers, internists, and primary care physicians can use this book as part of a comprehensive educational tool to help their patients achieve sexual satisfaction.

It is estimated that 43% of all women suffer from some form of sexual problem or complaint.

Interestingly, one act of sexual intercourse[2] burns 200 calories or is about the equivalent of 30 minutes of jogging. Sexual intercourse is an excellent aerobic activity that improves cardiovascular health and releases endogenous endorphins (brain feel-good hormones). Sexual hormones may also influence and lead to lower rates of depression[3], anxiety, suicide, and infections and may boost immunity, which can increase longevity. Oxytocin and DHEA (which stands for dehydroepi-androsterone), two hormones that are both released during orgasm[4], may prevent breast cancer cells from developing into tumors. The Viagraization of America—with millions of prescriptions and users—has lead to changing cultural stereotypes of middle-aged men and women. Middle-aged women are now viewed as strong, vibrant, sexual human beings. Coupled with this cultural change in perspective on sexuality is more focus on research and emerging treatments of sexual dysfunction.

  • [1] High blood pressure. An abnormality in arterial blood pressure that typically results from a thickening of the blood vessel wall. It is a risk factor for many illnesses including heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke or end-stage kidney disease.
  • [2] Sexual contact usually involving coitus or penile vaginal penetration.
  • [3] A state of lowered mood usually associated with other disturbances such as sleep issues, loss of or uncontrollable appetite, and loss of life's pleasure. Serious cases may be associated with suicidal thoughts.
  • [4] The intense pleasurable sensation at the peak of sexual activity or sexual climax usually associated with spasmodic contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. It is often associated with ejaculation, especially in men.
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