Inhibited Arousal

Updated: DECEMBER 3, 2018

Inhibited arousal is a medical term which denotes difficulty responding sexually to another person. Most people will feel inhibited arousal at some point in their lives. Inhibited arousal can impact people of any gender or sexuality. When inhibited arousal persists, an individual may be diagnosed with a sexual arousal disorder.

More About Inhibited Arousal

When people have inhibited arousal, they have little to no physical response to sexual stimulation. Men may struggle to get or maintain an erection, while women may not become sufficiently lubricated. When inhibited sexual arousal occasionally occurs, it can usually be overcome by prolonged or more varied foreplay.

Persistent inhibited arousal is more difficult to address. It may be a result of mental health concerns or taking certain medications or contraceptives. Anger towards the partner or stress at home or at work can also inhibit arousal. Past experiences including sexual trauma or receiving negative messages about sex can also be a barrier to arousal. Some people struggle emotionally to lose control of their bodies and thus resist arousal.

When people have inhibited arousal, they may avoid sexual interactions with their partner. This can take a toll on relationships. Therapy can be beneficial for people struggle with persistent inhibited arousal. Sensate focus exercises can help people become more comfortable with their body and its sexual responses, which is essential for overcoming inhibited arousal.


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