Men's Sexual Health

Sex is an important part of life. For many men, thinking about sex starts early, often before puberty, and lasts until their final days on earth.

On one level, sex is just another hormone-driven bodily function designed to perpetuate the species. On another, it's a pleasurable activity. It's also an activity that can help cement the bonds between two people.

Sexual health refers to a state of well-being that lets a man fully participate in and enjoy sexual activity. A range of physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors influence a man's sexual health.

Optimal male sexual health includes sexual desire (libido) and the ability to get and sustain an erection (erectile function). Although physiology can affect both the desire for sex and the ability to have sex, mental health and emotional factors also play important roles.

Male sexual health isn't merely the absence of disease. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get an erection or to maintain it long enough for satisfying sexual activity. Many things can cause ED, including stress, depression, relationship issues, abnormally low testosterone, damage from urological surgery, and even cholesterol-clogged arteries. In fact, it is often an early warning sign for heart disease. ED can be treated with pills, injections into the penis, or devices.  Men can also experience difficulties related to ejaculation, including premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, or the inability to experience orgasm upon ejaculation (anorgasmia).

 

Male sexual health also covers the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and the assessment and treatment of male infertility.

Men's Sexual Health Articles

Vaginal Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections, also called "Candida vaginal infections," typically are caused by the Candida albicans fungus. During a lifetime, 75% of all women are likely to have at least one vaginal Candida infection, and up to 45% have two or more. Women tend to be more likely to get vaginal yeast infections if their bodies are under stress from poor diet, lack of sleep, illness, or when they are pregnant or taking antibiotics. (Locked) More »

Balanitis

Balanitis is an infection or inflammation of the skin on the head (glans) of the penis. In men who are not circumcised, this area is covered by a flap of skin known as the foreskin, or prepuce. Balanitis can occur in both circumcised and uncircumcised men, although it occurs more commonly in men who are not circumcised. Young boys generally are affected only if they have a very tight foreskin that is difficult to pull back. (Locked) More »

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These bacteria can be passed from person to person during sexual activity (vaginal, oral and anal intercourse) leading to infections of the urethra (urine tube), cervix, vagina and anus. If untreated, these gonorrhea infections can spread to higher portions of the reproductive tract, causing prostatitis (prostate inflammation) and epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis) in men, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. (Locked) More »

Phimosis and Paraphimosis

In an uncircumcised male, the head of the penis is covered by a sheath of skin known as the foreskin. Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin is tightly stretched around the head of the penis and cannot be pulled back freely. Phimosis can occur naturally. For example, in boys younger than age 4, it is normally hard to pull back the foreskin. However, in older boys and men, phimosis often is triggered by an infection under the foreskin (balanitis) or by other medical conditions such as diabetes. Paraphimosis occurs when a tight foreskin is pulled back behind the head of the penis and then becomes stuck. It cannot be placed forward again to its usual position covering the tip of the penis. This can cause swelling, pain, and loss of blood flow to the tip of the penis. If the foreskin cannot be pushed back into its natural position, serious harm can occur. (Locked) More »

Cervicitis

The cervix is the donut-shaped opening to the uterus. Cervicitis is an inflammation and irritation of the cervix. Symptoms of cervicitis can be similar to vaginitis, with vaginal discharge, itching or pain with intercourse. Cervicitis can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection. Most common are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Trichomoniasis and genital herpes can also cause cervicitis. In some cases, cervicitis is not caused by infection. It may be due to trauma, frequent douching or exposure to chemical irritants. (Locked) More »

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. It is the most common serious infection among young women, with approximately 1 million new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. It usually affects sexually active women during their childbearing years. About one in every seven women receives treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease at some point in her life. (Locked) More »

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. In premenopausal women, infection is the most common cause. After menopause, a low level of estrogen often leads to vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis). Vaginitis also can be the result of an allergic reaction to an irritating chemical, such as a spermicide, douche or bath soap. (Locked) More »

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection spread by having unprotected sex with someone infected with bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. These bacteria are found in the urine and genital secretions of infected people. Chlamydia can affect several areas of the reproductive system, causing urethritis, vaginitis, cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Chlamydia also can cause eye infections and pneumonia in newborns delivered by mothers who have chlamydia. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Infections occur most often in unmarried people under age 25 who have had two or more sex partners during the previous year. In women, chlamydia that is not treated can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain and tubal pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants and grows in the fallopian tube, rather than the uterus. (Locked) More »

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause blisters and skin ulcers in the genital and anal area. It can be caused by either of two types of herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 or HSV-2. HSV-2 is the more common cause. HSV-1 more commonly causes sores on the face and mouth. HSV spreads from person to person through kissing and skin-to-skin contact, as well as through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse. An infected person often transmits the virus when skin blisters or ulcers are visible, but the virus also can be spread when there are no symptoms or skin sores at all. Herpes virus can be transmitted by people who don't know they are infected. In a pregnant woman with HSV infection (usually HSV-2), the virus can pass to the baby during delivery, causing infections of the newborn's skin, mouth, lungs or eyes. If the herpes virus spreads through the baby's bloodstream, it can cause serious infections of the brain and other vital organs.   (Locked) More »

Priapism

Priapism is an abnormally prolonged and often painful erection. This erection may not be related to sexual desire or stimulation. It often won't be relieved by orgasm. Priapism may start after prolonged sexual activity, although this by itself is not believed to cause priapism. Most men seek medical attention within hours to days, but a few people may have a partial erection that persists for weeks. Priapism can affect males of any age. Most cases occur in boys aged 5 to 10 years or men aged 20 to 50 years. In young boys, the most common cause is sickle cell disease. In adult males, the leading cause is drug treatment of erectile dysfunction, especially injection therapy. Other less common causes include recreational drug use, trauma to the genitals or groin, other medications and spinal cord problems. In up to one-third of cases, no specific cause can be found. In a normal erection, the veins that drain blood from the penis narrow and cause blood to back up, which makes the penis stiffen and swell. After the veins relax and open, the penis will not be erect. In most cases of priapism, these veins do not relax after orgasm, which causes the penis to remain erect. Less commonly, priapism occurs when so much blood flows into the penis that it cannot drain, even through veins that function properly. This increased blood flow is usually caused by a damaged blood vessel. (Locked) More »