In the Western world 20 to 40 percent of the women have issues with their sex lives. Examples are experiencing pain during intercourse, a low libido or problems with having an orgasm (many women have never experienced an orgasm). Very often they don’t want to discuss this even with their doctor because of the ‘taboo subject’. In Sri Lanka, where sexuality is a much stronger taboo than in the West, these figures are probably a lot higher. Although men seem to be a bit more forthright in talking about sexual issues like erectile dysfunctions or lack of desire, it’s still a difficult topic to speak about.
It’s quite normal that there are periods in our lives where we experience sexual problems. During a stressful period, you’re not that much into having sex as you used to. Or when there are issues within the relationship it’s very understandable that you have trouble getting excited. But when it is not possible to enjoy sex in a relaxed way for a longer period then various problems might develop. The most important causes of these sexual problems are fears and inhibitions, physical problems, negative experiences, lack of skills, relational problems and values and beliefs.
Sexual problems very often have a psychological context. When you’re not doing well in a psychological sense then typically sexuality is one of the first areas where you experience a change such as:
In a relationship, it’s very rare that both partners have exactly the same sexual need. It depends on factors like social circumstances, how much time and effort you put into the relationship, how much time and effort you put into yourself, tiredness, stress, depression, menopause, relational issues, pregnancy and post pregnancy.
Anxiety and fears
When there are sexual problems related with (lack of) desire, vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction then they can cause a lot of sexual tension within the relationship. They can prevent having a satisfying sexual relationship.
Lack of desire
Possible causes can be medical illnesses like diabetes and multiple sclerosis; medications like antidepressants, tranquillizers, blood pressure tablets and beta blockers; too much alcohol; inexperience; bad communication between the partners. Another possibility could be that from the onset of your sexual active life you experience problems with sexuality because you don’t know what excites you or you have fear or aversion to sex. Also, in a long-term relationship it can be difficult to maintain a satisfying sexual life.
This is an involuntary vaginal muscle spasm, which makes sexual intercourse very painful or impossible. Women are usually very sensitive. A bad sexual experience in the past, fear of painful sex or a strict (religious) upbringing can totally spoil the interest in any sexual activity. With vaginism professional help from a psychologist or a sexologist is very often needed.
In essence, sex is a way of communicating between two persons, verbal as well as non-verbal. You are in a relationship with each other where trust is one of the most important factors. You open yourself up in a physical and in an emotional sense and as a consequence you make yourself very vulnerable. It is not so strange that within this relationship there can be a lot of problems. Very often these are problems where you feel ashamed of, and it becomes difficult to discuss this with your partner.
Sexual problems can develop into relationship problems and many people keep these problems for themselves too long. It’s important to bear in mind that a professional psychologist can give valuable advice and guidance.