Sex is a fundamental part of our existence that has long captured the attention and curiosity of the masses. Sexual references through advertising overwhelm our daily lives and often influence our way of thinking but, no matter how commercialized sex has become, we seldom delve into the more serious issues of sexual health and well being. The topic of sex is a very sensitive often inappropriate point of discussion that most would selectively exclude from daily conversation. Many married couples are faced with problems in their sex life but are hesitant to speak openly about them. In these changing times there is a great need for sexuality to be discussed more to raise the awareness of the extent to which sexual conditions affect the general population.
Sexology is the study of sexual health and behavior which first began in the 19th century and is thus a new domain of specialization. It seems harder for some people to seek help for sexual problems they may have. Men are more likely to consult a sexologist than a woman, as females are more inhibited with the idea of exploring their sexuality during moments of intimacy.
Dr. Sandrine Atallah is a clinical sexologist and a medical hypnotherapist at La Clinique du Levant in Beirut. She offers her professional services to those with sexual dysfunctions. The majority of sex related problems have a combination of physical and psychological elements. According to Dr. Atallah, the organic (or physical) dysfunction is often treated with medicine whereas psychological dysfunction is treated directly with psychotherapy. What is further highlighted by Dr. Atallah is that sexual therapy is about the two people involved in the relationship and how the problem stems back to underlying issues related to the interaction between the couple and not simply the individual.
Sexual problems that are purely physical could result from illness, disability, or side-effects of medication. The sexual dysfunctions that are related to psychology may originate from negative childhood messages or sexual trauma. A common problem amongst most women is a low sexual desire or a lack of excitement and pleasure during sexual intercourse. The problem may arise from a number of contributing factors including, not being in love, anger issues or disapproval in the way a spouse may have behaved in the past or present i.e. an act of betrayal or adultery. Emotional wellbeing plays a very important role in stimulating desire for sexual activity. Primary low desire is often related to sexual trauma or a specific negative experience that may have curbed their urge to explore and enjoy sex.
A lack of excitement is when a woman does not feel arousal prior or during the moments of sexual intercourse. This problem may also include a lack of orgasm, which accounts for 30-40% of women. “I believe that women are not educated at all in sex, they may have learned technical information about intercourse but many have never explored themselves physically,” Dr. Atallah highlights.
Dyspareunia is an organic dysfunction whereby a woman experiences pain and discomfort during penetration. This is often caused by an infection, malformation or stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy enables the woman to take more control of themselves through the recommended exercises to discover their body without fear or pain.
Most individuals are brought up to believe that sex comes naturally and requires little effort but in reality sexual problems affect most people at some stage in their life.
The most common case in men is premature ejaculation, which is related to a man being genetically obliged to have rapid intercourse to pro create. Dr. Atallah explains that such a condition can be treated effectively with drugs in order to control ejaculation. The medical condition, erectile dysfunction, is a problem that men from any age bracket may suffer from. She explains that it is a common problem in older men because as they get older, lower levels of testosterone is secreted in the body. Cardiovascular diseases with old age cause blocked arteries which are defined as an organic condition. In younger men the problem may stem more from psychologically related issues as opposed to a physical one.
The doctor agrees with the notion that the problem of erectile dysfunction, from a psychological perspective, is inextricably linked to the pressures on men today. The more stress a man is exposed to, the less likely he is able to fully perform. The cycle of negativity may continue if there is stress related to the fear of continuing failure. What is made apparent by statistics is that younger couples tend to be more open to communicate about sexual issues than couples of an older generation.
The concept of a greater sense of sexual freedom in the 21st Century may provide a sound explanation for why sex is not as much a taboo subject as it used to be. However what is clear is the importance of educating people about sexual health awareness so that they may allow for lasting relations with their partners and learn to accept and understand their own body. Sex is one of the most important components in a marriage. Good marital sex maintains a healthy, lasting relationship. Divorce is often related to poor sexual relations or problems that the couple may have difficulty repairing due to miscommunication. Communicating effectively is fundamentally important for maintaining good sexual relations.