Why we're keener than ever to discover the joy of sex


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Half of women and third of men admit sexual problems in survey

Sarah Boseley, health editor
Friday August 22, 2003
The Guardian

Sexual problems are rife in Britain, according to new research published today, in spite of, or maybe because of a culture in which expectations of passionate relationships are higher than ever before.
A major survey - the first of its kind because of a past reluctance among the British public to talk openly about sex, the authors say - shows that a third of men (35%) and over half of all women (54%) have experienced a sexual problem of some sort lasting at least a month, although only a small minority have had problems lasting longer than six months.
A second study finds that 22% of men and 40% of women who went to see their GP at 13 practices in London said they asked for help with difficulties in their sex life.
Both studies found that one of the biggest problems for both men and women was a loss of interest in sex. Many men complained of erectile dysfunction, particularly now that the availability of Viagra has been so widely publicised. Women complained of a failure to experience orgasm.
The widespread nature of sexual problems will come as no surprise to counsellors and therapists working in the area, but have not generally been disclosed before.
Catherine Mercer, research fellow at the centre for infectious disease epidemiology at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London and the lead author of the nationwide study involving over 11,000 people aged 16-44, said that it was the first such report of its kind. "It is such a sensitive issue that I don't think it is easy to do, but we asked these questions as part of a national survey of sexual attitudes," she said. "We used laptop computers, so it is completely confidential. That may encourage people to be honest."
The second piece of research, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that people are willing to ask for help these days from their GP where the problems persist. The study of patients, however, questions whether the GPs are ready and able to get involved. Only 3% to 4% of those who had approached the GP had an entry in their medical records about a sex problem.
The authors, Irwin Nazareth, professor of primary care and population studies, also at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, and colleagues, say they cannot be sure these patients obtained an appointment specifically to talk about sexual problems, but the lack of any records suggests that even though many raise the issue, doctors do not often record it.
"Doctors may be reluctant to record sensitive material, and hence general practitioners' records do not accurately reflect the extent of their involvement in this area," the report says, adding that GPs need to be alert to the possibility of problems and need training in how to deal with them.
But although many men now seek out Viagra, not all sexual problems will have a pill for an answer. The medicalisation of sex is not necessarily going to solve the bedroom problems of the British, researchers say, as there may be nothing that doctors could or should do about the disappearance of desire.
"We need further evidence that the relatively common complaint of lack or loss of sexual desire is an obstacle to satisfactory sexual relations or that a medical solution is indicated," they write. "For many people, reduced sexual interest or response may be a normal adaptation to stress or an unsatisfactory relationship."
Denise Knowles, a sex therapist for Relate, the relationship counselling charity, says that if the relationship is good, then a sex life that has faded can be revived. "If the general relationship is a bit iffy, then sex is likely to suffer from it.
"Lifestyle comes into this. We work the longest hours in Europe. When you talk to people about job security, they say there isn't any. They have financial problems. All this can be niggling away at you, causing anxiety and when you are in an anxious state, the last thing you feel able to do is perform well in the bedroom."
The survey of GP patients found that circumstances likely to lead to sexual problems included increasing age, poorer physical health and increasing psychological distress. Sexual dissatisfaction in women and bisexuality in men could also be factors.
Ms Knowles denied, however, that sex troubles came only with middle age and in long-term relationships where the thrill was gone. "I'd like to challenge the idea that sex problems are only in the older generation or people in long-term relationships," she said.
“My experience in the clinic is with people in their late teens and early 20s who have not long been living together or are in the early stages of a relationship."
It was true that for some "a jaded palate is definitely a problem", she said, adding that she was struck by how little partners talked to each other about sex and how they expect it will always be as it was at first. "You got together and it was really passionate and you couldn't keep your hands off each other, but it isn't like that any more."
Children, the mortgage and the increasing girth that destroys a lithe and youthful body all play a part, she says. "But it's then about learning that there are different ways to have a good sexual relationship," she said.
For all the problems, the survey of GP patients reports that 64% of men are at the end of the day satisfied with their sex life, although less than half the women - 49% - would say so.
Open secrets The findings of past studies
1948 Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, published by Alfred Kinsey, demolished the idea that sex was an activity only between married couples, which women endured mainly for procreational purposes.
Kinsey's data found that 92% of men admitted to masturbating. A second, less well-received report on women in 1953, put the figure at 62% of females. He also revealed that 68% of males and 50% of females had indulged in premarital sex
1966 Human Sexual Response, published by gynaecologist William Masters and psychology researcher Virginia Johnson, was based on observed sexual activity in a laboratory setting, measuring the responses of 700 men and women during masturbation and intercourse. The book openly discussed the mechanics of sex and paved the way for better treatment of people with sexual disorders.
It also presented sex as a natural, healthy and pleasurable activity between two people who were cooperative but both seeking pleasure
1976 Hite Report rocked the world with the revelation that most women did not have vaginal orgasms but needed clitoral stimulus to achieve it.
From Freud onwards, the male-dominated medical and scientific view was that women who did not have vaginal orgasms were dysfunctional.
Shere Hite's first report - A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality - was much criticised for drawing conclusions from women's personal accounts without conventional statistical backing, but it had massive influence.
The Hite Report on Male Sexuality followed: a survey of the feelings of American men towards sexuality, women, homosexuality, love, marriage and sexual practices. In 1988 came Women in Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, which said 84% of women were not emotionally satisfied by their relationship.

To challenge – zakwestionować
counsellors – pracownik poradni
Desire – pożądanie
erectile dysfunction – dysfuncja erekcji
girth – popręg
GP – General Practitioner – lekarz ogólny
Iffy – not completely good
To indicate – wskazywać na
To indulge – zaspokajać
jaded palate – dosł. Znudzone podniebienie - nuda
To be keen on- mieć ochotę na
lithe – gibki, giętki
Niggling – dręczący, uporczywy
premarital – przedmałżeński
to raise the issue – podjąć problem
Reluctance – niechęć
To be rife - kwitnąć
Survey – ankieta, sondaż


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