Although sexual dysfunction is not a specific symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is a frequent complaint among trauma survivors. The Journal of Sexual Medicine review finds that PTSD-related biological and cognitive processes may contribute to the development of sexual dysfunction following traumatic stress.
The authors note that trauma exposure can profoundly rupture an individual's sense of safety and the ability to trust and feel connected to others. It may result in an association of arousal with threat.
"It is clear that PTSD is associated with sexual problems, even among relatively young people regardless of the type of trauma they experienced," said co-author Dr. Amy Lehrner. "We need to better understand this relationship and develop new treatments for sexual dysfunction in PTSD that will improve quality of life and promote resilience among trauma survivors."