Male Sexual Function/Dysfunction

Our bodies function in many ways. Often, we are not sure how sexual functioning takes place. Below are stages that outline general physiological responses to sexual stimulation. Keep in mind, these stages are variable, and very individual. Although men will progress through the stages in order, the amount of time spent in each stage can vary dramatically.


Stage One - Excitement

Stage Two - Plateau Phase

Stage Three - Orgasm

Stage Four - Resolution

Refractory Period


Sexual dysfunction may have physiological or psychological causes or a combination of both the physiological and psychological.

Primary Sexual Dysfunction: Never having been able to achieve a particular function.

Secondary Sexual Dysfunction: Having been able to achieve a particular function previously but cannot now.

Erectile Dysfunction: Inability to maintain or have an erection that is firm enough for intercourse. 20-30 million men in the U.S., or about 10.4%, at any one time may experience erectile dysfunction.

Primary Erectile Dysfunction: Never before had an erection.

Secondary Erectile Dysfunction: Ability to have an erection and intercourse in the past but cannot now.

Rapid Ejaculation: Ejaculation that occurs immediately upon entry or when becoming sexually aroused.

Ejaculatory Incompetence: Inability to ejaculate even when the penis is erect and sufficiently stimulated.

Primary Ejaculatory Incompetence: Never being able to ejaculate.

Secondary Ejaculatory Incompetence: Formerly able to ejaculate but cannot now.

Delayed Ejaculation: Ejaculation occurs but takes a long period of time.

Retrograde Ejaculation: The bladder neck does not close off during orgasm, and semen is pushed backwards into the bladder where it mixes with urine.

Dyspareunia: Painful intercourse occurring anytime during intercourse or even after intercourse.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire: Loss of interest and pleasure in what were formerly arousing sexual stimuli.

Sexual Aversion: Avoidance of or exaggerated fears toward sexual expression.

If you have questions about any of these conditions, talk with your health care provider, or schedule an appointment with the Sexual Health Education Coordinator at 333-2714 or a male counselor at the Counseling Center at 333-3704.


Kelly, G.F. (1994).  Sexuality Today.  Guilford, CN: Dushkin Publishing Group.
Masters, W.H., Johnson, V.E., & Kolodny, R.C. (1997). Human sexuality. New York: Addison-Wesley.
Nobre, P.J. & Pinto-Gouveia, J.  (2006). “Emotions During Sexual Activity: Differences between sexually functional and dysfunctional men and women.” Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol. 35(4) – 491-499.
Westheimer, R.K. & Lopater, S. (2005). Human Sexuality. Baltimore: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.