All posts by Rod

Women and men’s sexual problems

The onset of men’s erection problems

First and foremost, women are not usually in any position to judge what a change in male sexuality means. This would be like a man trying to interpret the changes that his partner will go through at the time of her menopause. She would, quite rightly, resent him making judgments and assumptions about her sexuality, and the same is true in reverse.

I think this issue is compounded by the fact that many women may tend to see any change in her man’s sexual expression as being a reflection on her. So, if his penis becomes less hard, or fails to get hard at all, a woman may interpret this as meaning that he finds her less attractive, or perhaps that he is seeing another woman, or that she has done something wrong. You can read about this here.

Video – ED affects women too!

If the relationship happens to be in its early stages, and a woman begins to see a man’s erectile failure as a sign that he is not attracted to her, she may begin to put pressure on him: “What’s the matter?” “What have I done?” “Don’t you find me attractive?”

These questions and others like them may alienate men and make them feel under even more pressure, thereby making it even more likely that they will lose their erection. This compounds the problem  and may lead to further complications such as unexpressed resentment. Such anger can in turn cause delayed ejaculation, a problem which seems to be more common than many physicians recognise.

That’s perhaps because men are reluctant to talk about it, because they see it as a sign of masculine “failure”. (Though it isn’t really a problem if it’s handled in the right way.) 

Sexual Compromises

A lot of couples develop a style of sex which favors the woman, even if it doesn’t look like that. One of the most misleading pieces of advice in recent times has been the suggestion that “Women come first“. Well, yes, it’s true that many women cannot reach orgasm during intercourse, so on the face of it this advice is fair enough. It goes like this: a man must give a woman oral sex or masturbate her until she comes.

Then it’s his turn, and he can enjoy thrusting into her welcoming and wet vagina until he ejaculates; it may not even matter if he reaches orgasm quite quickly, because she is already satisfied, having had her orgasm beforehand. Sounds good? There’s only one small problem: the little matter of his erection, or, rather, the lack of it.

How is he to get erect at this stage of lovemaking? There may be only one answer, and that is for her to give him a helping hand (or mouth). If the woman does not wish to do this, or doesn’t know it is necessary, a couple can very quickly be back to the same old blaming game. This means he becomes the problem: he has a “sexual dysfunction” (in fact he has “erectile dysfunction“), which a woman may interpret as meaning he  doesn’t find her attractive – or so she thinks.

And another issue: this scheme isn’t necessarily going to work for an older man. He might not be able to get an erection without manual stimulation from his partner. A young man can roll around the bed with a naked woman and get an erection pretty much instantly. It’s not like that for an older man.

Start by developing non-sexual intimacy  

One of the major causes of erectile failure (erectile dysfunction) is the fact that a man believes he has to perform to a certain standard during sex: that he must, for example:

  • always please his partner before he pleases himself
  • lead and take control during sex
  • have a full erection and satisfy his partner with vaginal intercourse before he ejaculates.

Although this is not true of all cases of erectile dysfunction, it’s certainly true that in many cases, the pressure which a man puts on himself can contribute to the pressure on his penis to stay erect. This may sound simplistic, so let me explain: such performance pressure causes anxiety, and anxiety is the enemy of confident sexual power.

The nervous system which activates our anxiety responses is the opposing on to the one which activates our sexual responses: you cannot function well at sex if you are nervous or anxious, or indeed, aroused or stressed. (Delayed ejaculation is one of the most sexual issues most affected by emotional influences.)

Therefore, the more anxious a man is about performance in bed, the more likely he is to lose his erection: and once this has happened, the more likely it is to happen again. But this is not the whole story of erectile dysfunction.

The situation is made more complicated by the fact that to some extent, a man can compensate for his anxiety by using practices which boost his sexual system. For example, heavy duty fantasy, or arousal which stems from the sight or sound or scent of one’s partner are methods which many men unconsciously come to use to keep their sexual arousal high. This may work even when they are experiencing high levels of anxiety, anger or resentment during sex.

What this means in practice is that a man may appear to be sexually aroused, with a hard erection, and the ability to make love. However, it’s his own mental processes which are keeping his penis erect, not physical arousal, which is what you actually need to be sexually satisfied.

Sure, for many years this system may keep a man in the saddle, so to speak. But, inevitably, as time goes by and age has  its inevitable effect on a man’s sex drive, he will find that the responses of his body to this fantasy are less than they used to be….

Maybe so much so that the anxiety or other (negative) emotion he feels around sex or towards his partner may actually come to predominate his emotional state. This will almost certainly mean that he cannot keep an erection.

Or, he gradually finds erectile dysfunction is creeping up on his without him realizing it – until the day when his penis refuses to co-operate during sex.

Now, men who are in this situation need to deal with erectile dysfunction by becoming more aroused in their bodies rather than their minds: by not relying on fantasy, but instead on real arousal in their bodies, they can replace the need for fantasy to keep their penis erect. They will also have a real sense of sexual arousal that naturally gives them an erection and comes from intimate interaction with their partner.

Now you have probably realized that this means a man must actually examine the emotional relationship he has with his partner. If it has significant amounts of anger, resentment or is clouded by other negative emotions, he must effectively deal with this before he begins to search out a cure for erectile dysfunction.

As you may imagine, this is not always easy because a lot of this negative emotion is actually unconscious – that is to say, out of the man’s awareness.

On the other hand, men who are in a situation like this, are often terrified by the loss of erection that threatens their whole sexual self-image. So there is little alternative to some kind of therapy which at least addresses the relationship issues. This may prevent the man from finding a new partner with whom he imagines there is less emotional baggage and with whom the same level of negative emotion has not yet developed.

So how can one deal with erectile dysfunction in this context? The first step is probably to get some kind of therapy or counseling for the relationship. Then, the emotional issues can be dealt with. 

Assuming that there are no physical causes for a man’s erectile dysfunction, the nest step may well be sensate focus: a proven and effective method of reestablishing sexual arousal and getting a man back to sexual self-confidence.

Sensate focus works through a gradual series of touching exercises, which are designed so that there is no sexual pressure. With an explicit commitment not to engage in sexual intercourse, the pressure that contributes to the erectile dysfunction is removed, and a man may quickly find that he begins to experience a new and different level of connection with his partner….one where he can appreciate her without the overlay of fear or anger that his (mistaken) belief that he must pleasure her or that her sexual satisfaction depends on him produces.

Essentially you start with an agreement to be intimate and naked, but without genital contact.

After engaging in a series of touching exercises, which in themselves can be a powerful route to understanding or discovering powerful emotions that spring from the depths of your feelings towards each other, you move on to a series of touching exercises where genital contact is permitted, though masturbation or oral sex to reach orgasm is prohibited.

These exercises are designed to remove performance pressure, and allow a man (and his partner) to make contact with their sexual selves, physical arousal, and sexual responses.

The next step is to engage in a series of touching exercises with genital contact and possibly masturbation to orgasm. Once again, the progress towards full sexual intercourse is paced: at every point in the sequence of events, a man must examine how aroused he is and if he finds that he begins to feel anxious, he must reduce his anxiety and bring himself back to a state of relaxation until he is once again calm and back in contact with his sexual and emotional self.

It’s essentially this loss of contact with self that produces erectile dysfunction: In the process of sexual arousal, without the feedback from your body you don’t know how aroused you are. Yet many men who fall into this trap are relying on fantasy to keep their penis erect, not their physical arousal – which is why they often experience what is know as the “numb-come” – the “feeling-less” orgasm: they are simply not aroused. Or, they may not come at all, or they may develop a severe case of erectile dysfunction.

Orgasms and Sex For Women

Individual Sexual Experience In Women

As one reads the descriptions the women give of their intercourse experiences, it becomes apparent that each tells a different story with its own special dramatic quality and significance. The events of sex which give a woman an orgasm within the context of her own unique problems and expectations. Although no attempt is made to analyze quantitatively the nature of the “self-presentations” in the intercourse descriptions, an impressionistic summary is offered of what seem to be the most common themes.

1. Some women present sex and intercourse primarily as a great adventure in which there are new experiences and sensations to be sampled. Emphasis is placed upon the range of sexual positions used, the novelty of some of the sensations aroused, and the potential for unlimited exploration by each spouse of the other spouse’s body. Some women like to be loved by men, and find this the way to access sexual desire.

Others have a higher sex drive and find sex with men whom they are not in relationship with to be fully satisfying. But at the end of the day, love conquers all – and most men and most women, probably more women than men, want to be in a loving relationship where they can enjoy great sex. How men and women love each other is not simple, as you can see here.

The importance of a man ejaculating inside the woman’s body as the climax of sex was not investigated but would be an interesting subject for future research. In other words, would delayed ejaculation reduce a woman’s satisfaction and sexual pleasure on a psychic level as well as a physical level? One wonders if erectile dysfunction, to whatever degree, could affect a woman’s view of sex in the same way.

2. Related to this first theme is the perception of sex and intercourse as a means of attaining ecstasy or going on a “trip” in which there are strange sensations and loss of identity. Included in this category are those who wish to ascribe a religious or mystical quality to sexual arousal.

3. For some women sex and intercourse is an opportunity to prove their superior prowess in an activity that is highly valued. They dwell on their responsiveness, their ability to attain multiple orgasms, and the fact that they exceed their husbands in sexual capacity. The giving of sexual pleasure seems similar, and is certainly important for many women.

4. Another theme found in the intercourse descriptions portrays penetration and thrusting primarily as an opportunity for intimacy and blending oneself with a sex partner. Much is said about closeness, skin contact, cuddling, and feeling unbelievably united to another human being. The process of joining sexually with someone is depicted as comforting and anxiety allaying.

5. A troubled martyred stance appears in some. The women in this category see intercourse as either painful or unpleasant. They picture themselves as victims of an inability to respond adequately to sexual stimulation. They dwell on their irritability during intercourse and their anticipation of ultimate frustration.

6. One interesting group characterizes sexual excitement as almost too intense to tolerate. They refer to their state of sexual arousal as painfully intense and suggest that they can barely control the sexual tension that builds up during ways for a woman to reach orgasm during sexual intercourse. Illustratively, one woman said that when she became highly aroused sexually she was “ready to climb the walls.” Reference is also made to excited body areas feeling “sore” and oversensitive, especially the clitoris and the vagina after thrusting (vaginal yeast infections being a particular problem, although men get yeast infections too – check out yeast infection in men advice here). Sexual excitement seems to be regarded as a force greater than self, which has potential overwhelming and disorganizing properties.

7. There are also those who adopt a no-nonsense “businesslike” attitude. They describe sexual intercourse as a routine, well-practiced procedure that provides adequate sexual gratification, but which is simply one of a number of other important life activities. Several of the women who conveyed this idea indicated that shortly after intercourse they often resume some household task or work that needs to be done. This does not seem to suggest that they were fully engaged with the experience, and certainly not lying in the after-glow of sexual pleasure. The clear implication is that sex was being undertaken for the simple act of gratifying their male partners.

This work was conducted some years ago: for a modern interpretation of reasons why women have sex, try this: in essence, there are hundreds of reasons. In their new book, Why Women Have Sex, University of Texas psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss aimed to cast light on women’s sexual motivations through five years of research among 1,000 women. Women’s motivation for sex includes altruism (“I felt sorry for the guy”), vengeance (“I wanted to get back at my partner”) and a desire to feel good (“I had a migraine”).

Women also have sex to boost their confidence, even if it’s with a partner they find unappealing; they have sex as a form of barter, to get something they want; they use sex to evoke jealousy in the ones they love; they have sex to protect themselves from getting hurt. Some have sex to boost their self-esteem; most have had sex simply to “keep the peace” at home. “I think the stereotype tends to be that women have sex for love and men have sex for pleasure,” says Meston, of the Sexual Psychophysiology Lab at University of Texas at Austin. “But in reality, women’s sexual motivations are vastly complex.”

8. Those who experience sexual intercourse as a reaffirmation of feminine identity should also be mentioned. They speak of how “womanly” they feel during and after sexual arousal. They experience sexual arousal as a demonstration that a man has accepted them in the role of “real” woman.

This brief review of the patterns discerned in the intercourse descriptions is not in any sense offered as a definitive classification scheme. It merely reflects an impressionistic summary of the relatively small number of responses in the sample. These categories are obviously not mutually exclusive and more than one pattern could easily characterize any particular woman.

How unified are the various dimensions or aspects of a woman’s sexual behavior? If she consistently achieves orgasm, does this mean that she prefers a high intercourse rate? If she has intercourse frequently does she also get a high amount of sexual satisfaction from it? Does the relative degree to which she prefers clitoral versus vaginal stimulation correlate with her ability to attain orgasm? Do a woman’s feelings during orgasm predict how she will feel after orgasm has occurred?

Is a woman’s masturbatory behavior related to other aspects of her sexual behavior? It is possible, on the basis of the data collected, to offer answers to such specific questions as well as the more general one of whether various aspects of a woman’s sexual behavior can be consistently predicted from other aspects. This involves looking at the interrelationships of the primary measures of sexual behavior and response that were obtained.

Orgasm Consistency

What does one find when the correlations of orgasm response consistency with other sexual indices are examined? Does the consistency with which a woman experiences orgasm during intercourse correlate with other aspects of her sexual behavior? To answer this question the correlations of the orgasm consistency index with the range of other sexual indices were analyzed across seven different samples.

The arbitrary convention is adopted here and in other data analyses that follow in this chapter of considering that noteworthy correlations exist only when they are statistically significant (.05 level) or borderline so (namely,  .10 level) in at least 50 percent of the women studied. The positive findings pertaining to orgasm capacity may be summarized as follows.

The greater a woman’s orgasm consistency the more likely she is:

To rate herself as being high in sexual responsiveness.

To indicate that she feels satisfied after orgasm.

To describe her orgasms as being of high strength.

To experience more than one orgasm in an hour period.

A borderline trend may also be cited for orgasm consistency to be positively correlated with degree of satisfaction during orgasm. That is, the more consistently a woman experiences orgasm the more likely she is to perceive her orgasms as “strong” and satisfying and to view herself as a sexually responsive person. Those who consistently attain orgasm do report feeling more satisfied with their orgasmic experiences than those who achieve orgasm inconsistently.

The rather limited nature of the relationships of orgasm consistency with other indices of sexual response is also interesting. Note that it is not correlated with time to attain orgasm, amount of pain during intercourse, amount of vaginal pulsation, presence of imagery, or fantasy during intercourse, the degree to which foreplay excitement focalizes in any of a series of specific body regions, and so forth. Most of these women relied on their partner’s knowledge of how to make a woman reach orgasm and achieve sexual pleasure.[ Explaining the fear of being alone  in men and women ]

Sex As A Human Desire

Sex and Other Appetites

In essence, we are looking at the nature of one appetite as it occurs in women: sexual drive and the ability to reach orgasm. How far can the findings be generalized to other appetites such as dating, drinking, seeking of new experience, and so forth? This is difficult to say. But it might prove to be an interesting and profitable exercise to assume that they are of wider significance and to follow their implications through. What are some of these implications?

1. First, if one considers that no consistent correlations were obtained between most of the major sex behavior indices and those measuring other appetites (for example, interest in eating, amount of drinking), it seems logical to conjecture that the various appetites represent fairly distinct, independent systems.

2. If one further considers that most of the major indices of sexual behavior were not consistently correlated with each other, it is also possible to conclude that each appetite system is organized in complex ways with many inconsistent and even contradictory elements being simultaneously present.

The same overall conclusion has been arrived at by others who have examined need systems (for example, Allport, 1949; Murray, 1938). Simple models based on the idea that an individual is consistently high or low in his use of, or enjoyment from, the multiple possible channels available for satisfying a specific appetite have turned out not to fit the facts.

3. Since several of the sexual measures were linked with attitudes toward parents, it is logical to generalize that other appetites will, at least in part, be influenced by early socialization experiences. Certain patterns of interaction with one’s parents will tend to energize or inhibit specific appetites. There is already a fair amount of evidence in the literature that the intensity and modes of expression of various appetites are detectably influenced by childhood experiences (Jones, 1968; Murray, 1938; Whiting and Child, 1953).

4. A number of the sexual measures turned out to be correlated with personality attributes. By analogy, then, one would expect other appetites and their modes of expression to be linked with personality parameters. Moderate support for this formulation may be found in the existing literature (for example, Jones, 1968; Murray, 1938; Miller and Swanson, 1960).

5. In view of the fact that the measures of sexual behavior did not relate significantly to the state of a woman’s “mental health,” it might be logical to expect that other appetite systems would not reflect maladjustment. It is doubtful, for example, that most aspects of eating behavior are linked to indices of anxiety or personal disturbance. However, a moment of reflection suggests that such a generalization may not hold up empirically for such appetites as consumption of alcohol or drugs.

6. Although some instances were observed in which amount of sexual imagery and fantasy (as defined, for example, by number of references to sex themes in inkblot responses) or sensitivity to stimuli with sexual connotations were correlated with measures of sexual satisfaction and orgasm consistency, these were few and irregular. There do not seem to be direct or compensatory relationships between habitual modes of sexual satisfaction and preoccupation with sexual fantasies or themes.

Although this is surprising, it may simply be another example of the fact that the individual learns to adapt to and accept long prevailing conditions. It should be added, though, that all of the women studied were married and were receiving at least some amount of regular sexual experience leading to orgasm.

It is possible that if women were studied who were extremely deprived of sexual interaction, evidence would be found for the presence of compensatory sexual imagery. One should note, apropos of the whole issue of the relationship between appetite satisfaction and imagery pertaining to the appetite, that studies that have looked at the results of relatively brief periods of deprivation (for example, of food or sleep) upon fantasy have found them to be very complex and inconsistent (Saugstad, 1966). Both with reference to short and long-term appetite satisfaction it seems premature to posit any simple pattern of fantasy or perceptual sensitivity effects.

7. Finally, attention should be called to the importance that was deductively assigned to change in state of consciousness (or perceptual sensitivity) as a factor in orgasm attainment. It seemed as if concern about the perceptual fading of objects was significant in inhibiting orgasmic excitement. The question arises whether the perceptual changes arising from the processes linked with other appetites may not have important feedback effects.

For example, do some persons find their enjoyment of food inhibited because of the sleepy, less aroused state produced by filling up of the stomach? They may have a need to remain alert, and the soporific effects of the food may be experienced as incongruent and unpleasant. Or do some individuals avoid their appetite for new experiences because in the process they become so aroused and alert that they cannot maintain their shutting out attitude toward certain classes of stimuli?

These generalizations represent only rough analogies. It is not clear that they articulate much in the way of new thought, but they are offered in the spirit of seeking maximum systematization of the results that were obtained.

Practical Implications

If one takes the liberty of projecting from the results and generalizations presented in this book, a number of practical implications can be derived. These implications, which are offered in a tentative way, go beyond the actual facts and should be approached with caution.

Pathways to Sexual Adequacy

One of the prime deductions to be made from the findings is that many pathways are open to a woman in the process of becoming a sexually adequate person. She need not grow up with any special set of traits in order to be sexually responsive and able to reach orgasm. Likewise, she need not conform to any fixed stereotype of what is feminine. Perhaps even more importantly, her sexual responsiveness does not depend upon her achieving a certain fixed amount of practice in dating or heterosexual contacts as she grows up. Many different kinds of women with many different kinds of dating patterns have been found to be equally orgasmic.

An immediate implication of these findings is that parents, psychiatrists, and others who are involved in the guidance or treatment of girls should be modest in their assertions about how any specific girl needs to behave in order to grow up to be a sexually adequate person and orgasmic.

Perhaps only the most extreme kinds of deviance in sexual behavior should be viewed as indicating a “defect” in sexual development. There would seem to be little rationale in assuming that the developing girl is headed for disaster in her future sex role simply because she is shy with boys or does not easily wear certain of the standard trappings of femininity.

Of course, it is still possible that the girl who is troubled with shyness and difficulties in relating to male peers may be headed for other kinds of adjustment difficulties. A condition that can be regarded as a signal for potential future sexual difficulties is the existence of a distant, non-involved relationship with the father. It will be recalled that it was found that if a woman perceives her father as not having invested serious interest in her she tends to experience orgasmic difficulties.

Therefore, if a girl has a father who is absent from home for long periods of time or whose work absorbs too great a part of his energies or who is psychologically difficult to relate to because of his own symptomatology (for example, alcoholism), serious thought. ought to be given to the impact it will have upon her future sexual adaptation. Perhaps with an awareness of such potential complications, special remedial measures might be undertaken.

Sex Education

Debate has raged interminably about the role of formal sex education in the child’s long-term sexual development. Also, there have been conflicting opinions about how important it is for the parents as compared to other agents to supply the child with information about sexual matters. If one uses as a criterion the adult sexual adequacy of a woman, the overall scientific findings indicate that the nature of formal sex education is relatively unimportant.

Neither in the writer’s studies nor in those of others (Terman, 1938, 1951) has a woman’s ability to enjoy sexual intercourse turned out to be related to the manner in which she received her early sex education. It made no difference whether she obtained her information from her mother or books or friends or a formal course in school.

This is not to argue against giving accurate sexual information to children. Such information could in many instances help to correct inaccurate concepts of sexuality and relieve the individual of the need to go through a lot of unnecessary anxiety provoking trial and error learning on his own. That is, sex education would help to clarify cognitively the essential nature of the sexual act and its relationship to reproduction.

The benefit would be informational at an intellectual level. It is doubtful that formal sex education does much in terms of the individual’s “emotional” sexual development.

It will be recalled that in the writer’s data there were no consistent relationships between a woman’s sexual responsiveness and her recall of how openly her parents talked about sex or were comfortable with nudity. This suggests that much of what parents do that is directly concerned with sexual matters may have little to do with how comfortable their children will eventually be with sexual excitement.

One would speculate that this is so because there are so many different reasons why parents may be open and explicit as opposed to closed and communicative about sex. In some instances the difference may actually reflect degree of comfort with sexuality. But in other instances, facade or compensatory behavior is probably involved.

A parent may be very “open” about sexual matters simply because he has read a book that insists that it is important to do so. Or he may be “open” about sex as a way of forcefully denying real anxiety and insecurity in this area.

On the other hand, the parent may be “closed” about sex not because he is specifically ashamed of it but rather because he is restrained in communicating about any matters with personal or intimate connotations. One gets the impression from the available data that the really important things that a girl learns about sex from her parents are only minimally contained in those communications and behaviors that are clearly about sex. Probably much more is learned from those aspects of their behavior indicating how much they are capable of intimacy, trust, and dependability.