What is orgasmic anhedoniapleasure dissociative orgasmic dysfunction?
The word “anhedonia” refers to the inability to experience pleasure from an activity that is normally considered pleasurable. People with orgasmic anhedonia (also called pleasure dissociative orgasmic dysfunction or PDOD) are unable to feel pleasure when they climax.
Orgasmic anhedonia/PDOD doesn’t affect sex drive. People with this rare condition still feel driven to have sex. Men still ejaculate. And women still know they’re reaching orgasm. The difference is that the pleasure is missing.
The situation can be quite frustrating for couples. People with orgasmic anhedonia/PDOD may be embarrassed or feel like they’re missing out. Partners may feel inadequate, like they are doing something wrong. Some partners are unaware of the situation.
Experts believe that orgasmic anhedonia/PDOD occurs because of a problem with neurochemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine. Patients may receive sexual stimulation, but there is a disconnect between the sensation and the part of the brain that recognizes that sensation as pleasurable.
It’s possible that the orgasmic anhedonia/PDOD is linked to psychological issues like depression or addiction. But it could also be connected to medications, high prolactin levels, low testosterone, or physical conditions like spinal cord injury.
If the cause of orgasmic anhedonia/PDOD can be identified, treating that issue may solve the problem. Sometimes, a combination of medical treatment and sex therapy is necessary.
People who do not feel pleasure during orgasm are encouraged to see their doctor.
What is postcoital dysphoria (“post-sex blues”)?
Sometimes, people feel deep sadness or agitation after consensual sex. The medical term for these feelings is postcoital dysphoria (PCD), but some call it the “post-sex blues.”
In some cases, people become tearful or depressed after orgasm. In others, they become argumentative with their partner. These feelings occur even if the sexual encounter has been satisfying and enjoyable.
Not much is known about PCD, but research published in the journal Sexual Medicine in 2015 has revealed how common it is among women.
Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia asked 230 female university students to participate in a survey about their experiences with PCD. The women ranged in age from 18 to 55 with an average age of 26 years.
Forty-six percent of the women said they’d experienced PCD in the past. About 5% said they’d had symptoms over the past month. And about 2% reported having PCD “always” or “most of the time.”
However, PCD was not linked to intimacy in close relationships, the researchers reported.
Experts aren’t sure why PCD happens. It may be that the bonding with a partner during sex is so intense that breaking the bond triggers sadness. Childhood sexual abuse may play a role as well.
The QUT researchers noted that their findings may not apply to other groups, as their participants were heterosexual, mostly Caucasian, and university students.
Additional studies with larger, more diverse groups may provide more clues. It is also uncertain to what extent postcoital dysphoria affects men.
People who are concerned about the post-sex blues are encouraged to talk to their doctor or a sex therapist.
What is premature ejaculation (PE)?
Premature ejaculation is repeated ejaculation in response to minimal stimulation before, at the time of, or shortly after penetration, but before the man wishes it, and over which the man feels he has little or no control. It is important to recognize that premature ejaculation is a subjective diagnosis and totally depends on the satisfaction of the partners.
How common is PE?
PE is the most common sexual dysfunction reported by men but is still under-diagnosed and under-treated. Estimating the prevalence of PE is difficult since many men do not want to talk about it, while others may not even perceive that they have PE.
However, recent research indicates that 25-30% of men struggle with PE.
PE can happen at any age and its prevalence is consistent across all ages.
Is there variation in incidence between countries?
Global studies consistently report that 20-30% of men experience PE worldwide. This means that PE is experienced at similar rates across the globe.
What is the difference between life-long and acquired PE?
Primary PE refers to men who have experienced this sexual problem since first having sex.
Secondary PE refers to men who had ejaculatory control at some point but began experiencing PE later in life, sometimes even after years of satisfying sex, without explanation.
How does PE affect a man's psychology?
PE can have a broad impact on many aspects of a man's life. Men experiencing PE can suffer anxiety, embarrassment, inadequacy, depression, anger and guilt.
PE can cause both personal stress, and stress to a relationship. In one study, men with PE were less satisfied with sexual intercourse and their sexual relationship, and suffered more problems with sexual anxiety and arousal compared to non-sufferers.
Some men with PE have trouble staying in relationships or may be scared to begin new ones.
Does PE affect the partner of the man with PE?
PE is a problem for the couple as a whole. Partners sometimes experience frustration and anger. Also, many couples do not discuss the problem with each other or with friends and family and there can be a breakdown of intimacy between them.
Causes - Premature Ejaculation
Unfortunately, the cause of PE is generally unknown. Historically PE was seen as a psychological disorder, but researchers now suggest that most cases are multi-factorial with a contribution from both psychological and physical factors.
PE is categorized as either primary or secondary as mentioned above.
Many researchers believe that premature ejaculation, at least in some men, may be due to a chemical imbalance or changes in receptor sensitivity in the brain or spinal cord.
What are the key factors in diagnosing PE?
Although there are no specific diagnosis or treatment guidelines for PE, the diagnosis of PE is based mainly on a detailed sexual history that establishes:
- The patients' perception of his control over ejaculation. Is it poor, fair or good?
- The time frame within which he ejaculates. Less than a minute? More than 2 minutes?
- The majority of men who self-identify themselves as having PE will ejaculate in less than 2 minutes.
- The majority of men who self-identify as NOT having PE will ejaculate in longer than 2 minutes.
- PE is considered to be the occurrence of ejaculation prior to the wishes of both sexual partners, (which can vary widely from couple to couple); no clear time cut-offs have been set as to the appropriate duration for sexual contact before reaching orgasm, although the FDA in its assessment of drugs for PE uses 2 minutes as the guideline. Patient self-report time to ejaculation (known as ejaculatory latency time) has been shown to be surprisingly accurate.
- That the short ejaculatory latency time is a source of distress for him or for his partner.
- That the short ejaculatory latency time is interfering with the satisfaction of sexual relations for him or the couple.
- If this condition has been life-long or if it has occurred more recently. Life-long PE is known as primary PE and recently acquired PE is known as secondary PE. If the onset of the problem is more recent, are there precipitating factors?
- Frequency of PE. An occasional instance of PE might not be cause for concern, but if the problem happens more than 50% of the time, a pattern usually exists for which treatment may be appropriate.
PE or ED ?
How do I know if I have ED or PE?
ED is a man's inability to attain or sustain an erection for the duration of sexual intercourse. Whereas PE is when a man and/or his partner perceives that he reaches orgasm and ejaculates too quickly and with little control.
In other words, PE is ejaculation before a man and his partner wants it to happen. There are men however who develop PE as a result of poor erection sustaining capability. In this situation, they condition themselves to reach orgasm/ejaculation quicker so they can do so before they lose their erection. The treatment of this begins by treating the erection problem first. With treatment many men can resolve the PE problem. Differentiating between the two conditions is a very important step for patients and physicians. An experienced physician should be able to define the real problem relatively easily.
Treating Premature Ejaculation
What types of treatment are available for PE?
- Physical & Psychological Treatment
What medications are currently available for PE?
- Desensitization treatments:these are aimed at reducing the sensitivity of the penis immediately before sexual relations. It is noteworthy to mention that there is no evidence that men with PE have any difference in penis sensitivity than men without PE. Although these techniques work for some men with mild PE, they can cause a reduction in sensitivity so that sexual satisfaction during intimacy is also reduced. Little research has been done on these techniques and their true benefit. Techniques that are employed by some men include:
- Using condoms: the use of a single condom may reduce sensitivity enough to make a difference in ejaculatory control for some men. Using multiple condoms, however, reduces sensitivity, potentially to the point where the sensation during relations is less than satisfactory for men.
- Using desensitization ointments: local anesthetics like lidocaine/prilocaine creams can be applied to the undersurface of the head of the penis (the glans) 30 minutes before sex. Desensitization ointments are best applied and then washed off 5-10 minutes before sexual relations, otherwise they will cause a numbing effect for the partner also. Some men use these creams underneath a condom.
- Masturbating prior to intercourse: many men with PE, even those with primary (life-long) PE, have much better ejaculatory control if they have sexual relations a second time within a short period of time after the initial encounter. Some men use masturbation in the hours before anticipated intimacy as a means to improve ejaculatory control.
- Non-FDA approved treatment options: a number of over-the-counter and prescription 'medications' have been used for PE:
- Herbal therapies: there are currently no studies that show the effectiveness of herbal products (also known as nutriceuticals). Many of these products contain androgens (testosterone, DHEA and androstenedione) that may be inappropriate for some men to use. Furthermore, some herbal products used for male sexual health contain Viagra and Cialis, which is of concern to men taking nitroglycerin-containing medications, since taking these together can be deadly
- PDE-5 inhibitors: medications such as Viagra®, Levitra® and Cialis® have been used by some men for PE. Studies suggest that they may help some men suffering from PE. Scientists are not sure why these medications would work in men with PE. However, it is generally believed that these medications can help men with PE who also have ED.
- Antidepressant medications: Antidepressants have been used for the treatment of PE. Prozac®, Paxil® and Zoloft® have been used with some success for this condition. Although no antidepressants have been specifically used to treat PE, several weeks of treatment with some of these medications has been shown to help many men with PE. Several weeks of treatment is required for these medications to work. The drawbacks of these medications include the need for daily use (when men stop using them they return to having rapid ejaculation), the stigma that they are anti-depressant drugs (for example, airline pilots are not permitted to take these medications and fly) and side effects (drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth and a range of sexual problems, such as decreased or increased sexual interest, ejaculation or orgasm problems, and impotence).
What types of psychological treatments are available?
Distraction techniques: distracting mental exercises during sex can be used to help PE (such as thinking of mundane things like baseball, work, etc.). These techniques are probably most useful for men with occasional PE or men who experience PE in the initial stages of a new sexual relationship. For men with long-standing PE, the consistent use of these techniques usually interferes with spontaneity and satisfaction.
Psychological Therapy: these treatments have been utilized for decades and are associated with success in many people. However, it is questionable for how long these treatments work. For example, for a man who has derived benefit from the techniques described, how long-lasting are the beneficial effects? It is estimated that 25% of men helped by such techniques retain the benefit for 2 years after starting the treatments.
PE can be both due to, and the cause of, psychological stress or other mental health and personal issues. Psychological treatments often involve counseling or sexual therapy that can include talking about relationships and experiences with a mental health professional and/or learning practical tools. By investigating relationships and individual issues that may be causing or compounding PE, mental health professionals can help find effective ways of coping with and solving problems that may be causing PE. For many couples affected by PE, working with a therapist together may produce the best results.
Some psychological therapies also focus on helping the individual find ways in which they can control ejaculation. Healthcare practitioners may provide instruction about distraction techniques, and "stop-start" and "squeeze" techniques that allow the patient to develop a sense of ejaculatory control.
The stop-start method works to help the individual identify ways of controlling their sexual stimulation and ejaculatory response. This method requires the man to engage in sexual stimulation, either with or without his partner, until he realizes that he is about to ejaculate. At this point he stops for about thirty seconds, reducing his urge to ejaculate, and then begins the sexual stimulation again. These steps are repeated until ejaculation is desired. In the final step of the sequence, stimulation is continued until a climax is achieved.
The squeeze method also involves sexual stimulation until just prior to the "point of no return". Once the man senses that he is about to ejaculate, his partner stops sexual stimulation and gently squeezes the tip or the base of the penis for several seconds. Further stimulation is withheld for 30 seconds and then resumed. The couple may choose to repeat the sequence as many times as they like, or continue stimulation until ejaculation is desired. These exercises have little benefit if conducted by the man himself and require the participation of partner.
The only treatment approved by FDA for PE
New medications are being developed to treat PE. The first is a quick acting drug taken one to four hours before sex, called Dapoxetine. In trials, Dapoxetine has been shown to effectively treat men with PE. The difference between this drug and SSRI medications is that it does not need to be taken every day and is not prescribed for depression. Dapoxetine is currently approved by the FDA.