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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. In order to define dysfunction, we must first define normal functioning. We also need to specify whether we are talking about reproductive function, erotic orgasm or emotional pleasure.

A woman may feel miserable if she cannot conceive but sexual dysfunction tends to focus on orgasm rather than reproductive capability. Certainly, male dysfunction does not relate to whether a man can impregnate a woman. A man feels life is hardly worth living if he cannot get an erection, which is a prerequisite for a man to engage in any kind of sexual activity. So sexual dysfunction tends to be defined in terms of orgasm or in terms of our ability to engage in intercourse because both of these are so vital to men’s happiness. But no one considers the fact that women have no need for orgasm and no need for intercourse unless they want to have a baby.

Men’s responses are very evident. Given women’s general lack of interest in sexual topics, men have traditionally defined women’s sexuality for them. Men assume that women should experience intercourse exactly as they do. In the past women were called frigid, today they are called dysfunctional. Only the terminology has changed. In the past women were told it was their duty to provide sex. Nowadays women are told they should enjoy sex. If they don’t, there are still no answers. Every year millions of dollars are paid to the sex therapists by couples who are frustrated when female orgasm doesn’t occur as they think it should. Yet the published research findings (Kinsey) clearly indicate that women are much less responsive than men.

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is based on the belief that women should orgasm from intercourse. Media images that portray women apparently responding to the point of orgasm with a lover are so persuasive that women feel obliged to refer to orgasm as if it occurs naturally in their lives. Women who never experience orgasm claim to orgasm as men think they should.

Men have no idea how women truly orgasm, so a woman just copies the porn actresses. Some women assume that the sensations of intercourse equate to orgasm. This is why they believe women need a man with a loving attitude to enjoy sex. But emotional factors have nothing to do with orgasm.

When talking about sex, adults often fail to take into account the very different experiences we have. We may also have very different responses to the same experience because of our different personalities. Most couples accept a man’s greater interest and a woman’s sexual passivity. Consequently, few couples ever discuss sexual pleasuring. FSD affects responsive women because (knowing what an orgasm feels like) their expectations for sexual activity with a lover are set much higher than others.

Sexologists try to explain why women do not respond to intercourse by implying that something is not working properly. They suggest that either women are sexually inhibited or repressed in some way. Or they suggest that men are incompetent lovers who do not stimulate a woman in the right way (or for long enough). These suggestions make us feel inadequate and cause much of the embarrassment over sex. Few people ever visit a marriage counsellor. The vast majority of people accept their sexual experiences for what they are. They never consider that they might be dysfunctional because they don’t expect too much in the first place. Faking orgasm is easy and reassures couples that their sexuality conforms with social norms.

Others either expect more or they assume that experts must know answers to questions no one else can answer. They spend money on consulting therapists and either give up or are satisfied that they have done their best. 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 research findings indicated that female orgasm is associated with female masturbation rather than sexual activity with a lover. But no one wants to accept these facts.

Most women are not attracted to the idea of stimulating their own genitals. They are more than happy to leave that task to a man. Women are sexually passive with a lover so it is assumed to be the man’s role to stimulate a woman to orgasm. Given the misconception that sexual pleasure relies on purely physical stimulation, women assume that they might orgasm if stimulated for long enough. So women hold their partner responsible for their inability to orgasm because men ejaculate quickly through intercourse.

Intercourse is a mating act. As long as a man can ejaculate into a vagina he has succeeded. Telling a man that 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.

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)