Sexual disorders

Note: This section covers both men’s business and women’s business.

Sexual disorders or dysfunction can affect both men and women, and can negatively impact on a person’s quality of life, self-esteem, relationships and sense of identity [1178][41424].

Sexual disorders that affect both men and women include, but are not limited to:

  • infertility
  • lack of libido (sexual interest)
  • inability to enjoy sex or experience pleasure
  • anxiety about performance
  • worry about looking unattractive during sex [41412].

Other sexual disorders are gender specific.

For males, erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) are common among the general population; both conditions affecting approximately 20% of men at some point in their lives [41422][41423]. Although ED is more prevalent among older men, younger men are also frequently affected [41411]. The prevalence of PE does not increase with age and can affect men of all ages [41411].

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, the prevalence of ED increases across age groups, from about 10% in younger men to 28% in older men [24694]. ED among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, particularly those living in a remote location, has been strongly associated with chronic disease [24694]. The prevalence of sexual health disorders among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men may correspond to the high rates of CVD, diabetes and other chronic diseases among this population [4436].

Other sexual disorders that can be experienced by men include:

  • blood in semen
  • foreskin problems and circumcision
  • prostate enlargement
  • testosterone deficiency [41423].

Some women may experience sexual disorders throughout their reproductive years including difficulties falling pregnant (infertility) or problems carrying a pregnancy to full-term [40126][41221]. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are at higher risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal condition linked to infertility [25090]. Post-menopausal changes in women can also impact sexual function [41221].

Other common sexual disorders that affect women include:

  • vaginismus (tightening)
  • dyspareunia (pain during penetration)
  • physiological changes following childbirth
  • problems caused by menstruation or menopause [41424][41422].

There are many factors that contribute to sexual disorders, some of the most common include:

  • smoking, alcohol and other drugs
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • injury
  • hormone changes
  • trauma during childbirth
  • anxiety, depression and stress
  • chronic diseases
  • prolonged use of medication [41424][41412][24694].

Sexual problems are often regarded negatively and cause embarrassment; this is particularly so in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where talking about sex or sexual health in general is often considered to be shameful [21766]. Shame can be a serious barrier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people getting access to information about sexual disorders or related medical care and services. There are a growing number of sexual health promotion and awareness initiatives and services across Australia, and many that deal with “men’s business” and “women’s business” in culturally appropriate ways.

References

Key resources

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Artwork

Bec Morgan - When the fresh water meets the saltwater

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