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8 reasons 'excuses' to avoid sex may not be just excuses

Sexual health problems could be more than just sexual. They may indicate an underlying health issue.

Sex is an important part of life. There are a lot of problems in the reproductive system that primarily affect sexual health. But did you know that sexual health issues can be a result of an underlying chronic health problem? Here are a few sexual problems that could stem from a condition originating from somewhere else in the body. Identifying the underlying problem affecting your sexual health can help you deal with it better.

Excuse 1: Not in the mood - Low libido/sex drive

Sometimes you may not just be in the mood because you are tired or you have something else on your mind. It could even be due to lack of sleep, caffeine or alcohol! But do you find it difficult to rekindle romance in bed despite love blossoming within you?

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A sluggish sex life due to low libido could be due to an underlying condition. Anaemia can be a reason behind the dwindling stamina in bed. It causes weakness and can lower your sexual arousal. In men, anaemia can lead to lowered sexual desire as well as erection problems.

Have you hit menopause? Women in their menopause may lose interest in sex owing to the drastic hormonal changes that take place. Low libido in women can also be due to deficit testosterone. Yes, you heard it right! Testosterone, often associated with male libido, is not only present in women but is essential for female libido.

Excuse 2: Not interested

Are you struggling with stress or depression? Chronic stress increases the levels of cortisol which suppresses the function and effect of the male sex hormone testosterone. It reduces the level of oxytocin in women, which plays a key role in sexual excitement during foreplay. Something wrong with the brain signalling mechanism can also affect sex drive. One of the symptoms of depression is anhedonia, which is the inability to enjoy activities that used to be pleasurable, which can include sex.

Certain medications like some anti-depressants and anti-anxiety, and even birth control pills, etc. may also affect your libido.

Excuse 3: Sex hurts!

For men

Of course, injury to the sexual organs and irritation and inflammation due to lack of hygiene around the penis area can cause pain. But sex can be painful for various other reasons too. Is the foreskin of the penis too tight to retract over the head of the penis completely? Or, is the foreskin is tucked behind the penis and cannot be pulled forward? These conditions, called phimosis and paraphimosis respectively, could lead to pain during intercourse. And pain in the penis could also be due to a bladder infection? Pain in the tip of the penis can be due to prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and in rare cases, penile cancer too. Urinary tract infections can cause the penis to emit a foul smell and pain during ejaculation.

Pain in the testicles

Even a minor injury can cause discomfort or pain in the very sensitive testicles. But if there are no obvious signs testicular pain could mean more. Sometimes pain from kidney stones may be perceived in the scrotum. An inflammation of or a cyst growing inside the epididymis (a tightly coiled tube situated in the back of each testicle that stores semen) may also be the reason for pain in the testicles.

For women

Vaginal infections, infection in the cervix, fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory diseases, cysts in the ovaries and ectopic pregnancy can all trigger pain during deep penetration. Pain during sex could also be an indication of reaching menopause. The vaginal lining can lose its moisture and become itchy during menopause.

Excuse 4: Excessive discharge down there

Vaginal discharge in a healthy woman signifies optimal functioning of the glands and internal hormonal secretions. Excessive white discharge at times can be normal and harmless too as seen during ovulation, sexual excitement and pregnancy. But at times, problems down there could mean or be indicative of certain infections or a health crisis. Excessive discharge could mean that you are stressed out. Stress is a major cause for hormonal imbalances within the body.

A smelly vaginal discharge in excess often is an indicator of a vaginal infection or vaginitis caused by fungus, bacteria or virus. It could also serve to be an early symptom of a sexually transmitted disease. Abnormal vaginal discharge can also be associated with urethritis due to chlamydia or trichomoniasis infection.

Excuse 5: Heavy flow during periods

Menstrual bleeding is a normal bodily phenomenon among women, but heavy bleeding is not. Heavy bleeding or prolonged menstrual cycle (hypermenorrhoea) may indicate certain health issues. A non-cancerous tumour called fibroid that grows on the walls of the uterus is one of the most common causes of excessive bleeding. Heavy menstrual bleeding could also indicate other conditions like hormonal problems, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and some blood clotting disorders. Although rare, cancerous growths in the body can also lead to heavy bleeding. Prolonged menstrual bleeding for more than 10 days to weeks could indicate uterine cancer.

Excuse 6: Insufficient lubrication in women

Vaginal dryness, the unpleasant symptom of menopause, is well known. But insufficient or lack of lubrication leading to vaginal dryness and pain during sex in women could be due to various other reasons. Diseases like high blood pressure and arterial hardening, which involve blood vessels, have a direct impact on blood flow and cause insufficient lubrication in women. Certain medications like contraceptive pills, antidepressants and medications for allergies could be culprits too. They tend to make the skin down there become dry and flaky.

Excuse 7: Not able to get and maintain an erection

In men, erection is an important factor that determines sexual health. Impotency or erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a serious sexual problem afflicting them. Sometimes the problem can lie in the mind. It could be due to performance anxiety. But not being able to get and maintain an erection could be an indication of a health problem. About 60-70% men suffering from high blood sugar levels experience ED during their lifetime.

Diabetes interrupts the flow of blood to the penis and also gives rise to nerve-related problems. As a result, the nerves controlling erection of the penis do not receive appropriate signals. Diseases involving blood vessels like high blood pressure and arterial hardening have a direct impact on blood flow to the penis and can cause sexual dysfunction. ED could be an early marker of heart disease! They share the common risk factors.

Conditions like atherosclerosis that interfere with blood flow reduce the blood supply to the penis, which results in an inability to sustain erection while having sex. ED may also be due to other diseases and conditions like nerve disease or nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord and brain injuries, etc. Check your medicine cabinet. ED can be a side effect of many common medicines such as blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquillisers, appetite suppressants too.

Sexual dysfunction can also be linked to depression.

Excuse 8: Ejaculation - sooner than desired

You might definitely feel a little anxious if you are having sex for the very first time or with a new person or after a long interval due to insecurity and lack of experience. Premature ejaculation can also be triggered by a desire to play the part of the perfect lover . But chances are that your lower ejaculatory threshold can be due to a chemical imbalance in important brain centres. Ejaculation can happen sooner than desired as you need less stimulation before you ejaculate. Your erectile dysfunction could also cause premature ejaculation. It is thought that men with erectile problems begin to ejaculate quickly to compensate for not being able to keep an erection. Premature ejaculation could be a sign of excess thyroid hormone or chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

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References:

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2. Hsu CY, Lin CL, Kao CH. Gout is associated with organic and psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Eur J Intern Med. 2015 Jun 15. pii: S0953-6205(15)00206-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2015.06.001. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26089189.

3. Cihan A, Demir O, Demir T, Aslan G, Comlekci A, Esen A. The relationship between premature ejaculation and hyperthyroidism. J Urol. 2009 Mar;181(3):1273-80. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2008.10.150. Epub 2009 Jan 29. PubMed PMID: 19185321.

4. Lee JH, Lee SW. Relationship between premature ejaculation and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. J Sex Med. 2015 Mar;12(3):697-704. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12796. Epub 2014 Dec 5. PubMed PMID: 25475760.

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