Sunday, April 21, 2019
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The misunderstandings behind sexual dysfunction

True sexual dysfunctions are very rare. The word ‘dysfunction’ implies that something is not working properly. To define ‘dysfunctional’ we must also know what is ‘normal’. But we also need to be explicit about whether we are talking about reproductive function, orgasm or emotional pleasure.

A woman may feel miserable if she cannot conceive but sexual dysfunction tends to focus on pleasure rather than reproduction function. Certainly, male dysfunction does not relate to whether a man can impregnate a woman. A man feels miserable when he cannot get an erection, which is a prerequisite for a man to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

It is suggested that a woman needs a man with a loving attitude to ‘enjoy’ sex. But this is far from achieving orgasm. Sex is easy in a new relationship. A man is easily aroused and a woman feels appreciated. But after decades of marriage it is not so easy any more. She feels as if sex is expected. A man needs to invest any effort in understanding the emotional factors that motivate a woman to provide a man with what he wants.

Intercourse is a mating act. As long as a man can ejaculate into a vagina he has succeeded. Telling a man he is also supposed to thereby cause a woman to orgasm only leads him to feel inadequate when it doesn’t happen. Women’s demands for equality and men’s motivation to please women puts the responsibility for female orgasm on men. Given female apathy towards sex, some men worry that their penis isn’t big enough or that they can’t maintain an erection for long enough to simulate a woman to orgasm.

Given most women’s lack of interest in masturbation and their passivity with a lover, it is assumed that if a woman is ever to experience orgasm it must be by being stimulated by a lover (especially through intercourse). Women assume that they would be able to orgasm through intercourse if their partner stimulated them for long enough. So they may hold their partner responsible for their inability to orgasm through intercourse.

What we call ‘sexual dysfunction’ today is more often a mismatch between expectation and reality. Men and women feel inadequate because of unrealistic media images based on fictional material. The vast majority of people never question their sexual experiences. Very few people ever visit a marriage counsellor or a sex therapist. Most people’s expectations of sex are very low. They accept their experiences for what they are. They never once consider that they might be sexually dysfunctional. Most couples intuitively accept a man’s greater interest and a woman’s lower interest in sex. Consequently, few couples ever discuss sexual pleasuring. Some women even assume the sensations of intercourse equate to orgasm.

Most women are too embarrassed about sex to expect much. They generally prefer to go along with male initiative. Unlike male dysfunction, women can easily fake orgasm if necessary. So women never need to admit a lack of orgasm. Most men accept silence as evidence that women ‘enjoy’ sex even if she is unenthusiastic. Faking is easy and keeps everyone feeling reassured that their sexuality conforms with social norms.

Women who never experience orgasm can claim to orgasm every which way as men would like to believe. There is only an upside for them because they have no idea how women truly orgasm. Most women never experience orgasm, so they have nothing to miss and nothing to prove.

Female sexual dysfunction is based on the male belief that women should orgasm from the stimulation provided by intercourse. This reliance on male expertise is evidence of women’s ignorance over orgasm and how it is achieved. Many women, who are unresponsive, are not bothered about a lack of orgasm. FSD affects responsive women (who know what an orgasm is) more than others because their expectations are set higher.

If a woman admits to a lack of orgasm, the conclusion is that one or both partners are dysfunctional (either the man is not providing the correct stimulation or the woman inhibited in some way). No one wants to think there’s something wrong with them so men and women support each other in beliefs that make both feel ‘normal’. Consequently no one is interested in facts and logic indicating that female orgasm is not possible with a lover.

Others either expect more or they assume that experts must know answers to questions no one else can answer. They spend money to consult therapists and either give up or are satisfied that they have done their best. The research findings have indicated some of these facts. But no one wants to accept them. Many people seem to prefer sexual ignorance to facts.

The way sex is portrayed in the media and in films often provides us with a base of comparison that is not always realistic for the individual. (Andrea Burri 2012)