Sex Therapy: A Look into Female Sexuality

After a plethora of failed attempts (and millions of dollars later) at making a female Viagra, one can only wonder what it is that such medication is addressing in men that it isn’t in females. Where erection-enhancing drugs assist in matching a male’s physiological response to their psychological arousal, for females, the medication would need to be the opposite.  A woman can be physically aroused, even have an orgasm, but not have an interest (desire) in sex. 

Being that frequency of sexual intercourse and arousal has little to do with sexual desire in females, let us further define what exactly is sexual arousal and desire: 

  • Sexual desire (also coined ‘sex drive’ or ‘libido’), is controlled by the brain and is the innate force that makes us think about sex and act sexually.
  • Sexual arousal (also coined being 'turned on), is referring to physical response such as vaginal lubrication, increased blow flow to the vagina and rapid heart rate.

In the past women’s sexuality was misunderstood and unexplored until the women’s liberation encouraged a curious stance and growing awareness in the ways in which women’s sexuality differed from men’s. Still, there still are many unanswered questions to the multifaceted complexities of female arousal.

It is still neurologically unclear how desire works or what triggers it (as this varies per individual). What is easier to examine is the reason behind desire's loss or absence. As described by Esther Perel in her informative book “Mating in Captivity”, the very things that boost sexual desire, such as risk, excitement, and newness, are contradictory to what we gain in committed long term relationships, such as safety, stability, and comfort. This confirms why desire is more likely to diminish in long-term relationships, however, it has been found that for women the loss is more severe.

A sense of mystery and thrill of the unknown that is often experienced at the beginning of relationships can get lost in domestic life. With this in mind, although there may not be an exact solution, consider how a little distance can go a long way in terms of promoting desire. Spending all your time with someone is great and all but does not leave much room for lust. Sex gets easily put on the back-burner because, well, ‘you’re both tired and it’s no biggie to do it tomorrow, next week, or next month’-Get the point?

Communication is sexy and will help you and your partner better meet your sexual needs. What does desire look like to you? Is there something you want from your partner or for yourself that you are shying away discussing due to fears/anxiety regarding your partner (or societies) response? Well, you don’t know what you don’t know and until you ask, you won't know! 

The infamous sex educator Betty Dodson discusses how negative consequences, such as high levels of anxiety, result in low levels of sexual desire. She writes, “When we are anxious, and concerned about our well being, sexual arousal is quiet. Anxiety turns libido off. The interesting idea here is that from the brain's perspective, individual survival is primary, and sexual survival secondary.” This is a prime example of how mental health and wellness are correlated with sexual health. 

Working with a sex therapist will provide the support and encouragement to develop the tools necessary to make changes in your life, to reframe sexual dysfunction, and to improve experienced desire. A sex therapist and relationship counselor will help you to reframe the way you look at sex and desire by disputing any irrational beliefs (“I should always feel desire when I am with my partner and if I do not then I must be in the wrong relationship or something must be wrong with me”) that are hindering you from having the sex life and sexual connections you want.

Lauren is a Therapist in New York providing relationship counseling and sex therapy for individuals and couples. Are you ready for insight and change?

Bedroom Blues: Navigating Intimacy Challenges in Relationships

When choosing a romantic partner there are often several variables one may consider prior to commitment, with sexual compatibility often not being an exception. But what happens when the person who compliments you in many valuable ways, does not seem to match you sexually? This can weigh heavy on the potential of the relationship and may even hinder each partner’s experienced happiness despite the many other aspects of their partner that elicits joy. But fret not lovers; sexual compatibility is not an inflexible concept. Firstly, keep in mind that neither partner is wrong for how frequent or infrequent they desire sex. Placing an expectation in relationships that because two people stimulate each other mentally and emotionally that they also are ‘supposed’ to want the same things sexually can negatively impact the wellness of the relationship. It creates an idealistic platform when entering relationships that, if not met, will result in disappointment, judgment, shame and/or blame. Even the most passionate of partners will experience waves of uncertainty and differing sex drives at certain points in their relationship. With that in mind, a goal for couples would be to begin to remove such unrealistic demands and instead highlight the importance of communication and compromise in all aspects of a relationship, including sex and intimacy.  Communication can be challenging if partners are in defensive and offensive mode due to built up frustration over ‘incompatible’ sex drives. If possible, seek a couple’s counselor who specializes in sexuality to aid in identifying and revising cognitive distortions including– “My partner ‘must’ want sex every time I do or we are not compatible enough.” A professional is a great resource to help couples come to a compromise on what a happy and healthy sex life looks like for their UNIQUE relationship. Don’t be afraid to explore your sexuality together so you can create your own love language. A little direction goes a long way, so keep in mind the benefits of positive reinforcement when your partner is pleasing you in a way you want to encourage for the future. A satisfying sex life most greatly begins and ends with compromise. This may include one partner having sex even when they are not in the mood or the other using masturbation as means of feeding their sexual hunger. Consider whether sexual exclusivity, familiarity and lack of novelty are negatively affecting sexual intimacy in the relationship. Engaging in a new sexual activity together may spark that previously experienced passion; or some simple distance may also do the trick. The key is not to adhere to a socialized norm of what relationships and sexuality looks like; to create your own love story that leaves you satisfied with no apologies necessary.

Lauren is a Therapist in New York providing relationship counseling and sex therapy for individuals and couples. Are you ready for insight and change?

Sex therapist shares 5 tips for better sex

  1. STIMULATE his or her mind before you stimulate their body. Begin with scintillating conversation, whether you’re at the start of a new relationship or involved in a long-term one, flirting keeps it fresh and gets your blood flowing. After all, that’s what we want! Pick a body part and an adjective and see where the conversation goes from there.  

  2. EXPAND foreplay.  It’s about the journey, not the destination. So take your time and enjoy the scenery. Begin with talking, touching, hugging, kissing, etc. Try to engage all five senses, hearing, touch, taste, sight, and smell. 

  3. ENGAGE new things. You would have never realized that you liked that type of food, or hobby had you not tried it for the first time. You can incorporate different things. Mix it up. For example, food, toys, blindfolds, roleplaying, etc. Not sure what you like or where to start?  Consider visiting an adult toys store and explore the possibilities.  

  4.  COMMUNICATE what you want. It’s more likely that you will have better sex if you simply just asked for what you wanted either through verbal or non-verbal communication. Body language can convey a lot. Explicit sexual gestures come to mind. Or simply verbalize what you desire. Remember articulating what you want is definitely sexy, exudes confidence and you are being upfront to your partner about your needs and wants.  

  5. REINFORCE and motivate your partner.  Positively reinforce the desired behavior by offering praise and affirmations.  Just shouting “Yes” is the simplest affirmation you can give.  

    Start with “I like it when you_____” It feels so good when you_____” “Don’t stop doing____” Fill in the blanks with what you want and reinforce the great sex that you are having!

     

     

Meditation

As a therapist in New York I found this article about thousand dollar workshops in meditation to be really interesting.

I get it. It's good. I meditate – I also go to therapy which some have called a form of meditation.  Because it's hard to "sit" - especially when there are things on your mind- like irrational beliefs you are barely conscious of.  I imagine it might also be especially hard to sit when you are in a networking meditation class costing you $1000 for a four-day introduction. 

But, as Laura M. Holson reports, "now, meditation studios and conferences catering to Type A Manhattan careerists are becoming a new hub for networking without the crass obviousness of looking for a job."

So, I guess that means -best learn how to sit with yourself and get your head and finances in order!  Whatever way you can!

PS I think therapy helps...

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/fashion/how-to-find-a-job-with-meditation-and-mindfulness.html

Anna Wilson

Psychotherapist

http://www.mytherapist.info/anna

Smell

As a therapist in NY working with couples and individuals on issues related to sex, this discovery is particularly interesting.

Apparently our whole body smells!  If you didn't love your mammalian body before knowing something about the science of smell, then check this out, and let this bring you to your senses! 

Alex Stone writes, "Over the last decade or so, scientists have discovered that odor receptors are not solely confined to the nose, but found throughout body — in the liver, the heart, the kidneys and even sperm — where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions.

Now, a team of biologists at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany has found that our skin is bristling with olfactory receptors..." http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/science/smell-turns-up-in-unexpected-places.html

Source: http://mytherapist.info/anna

Dating and Choices

Looking for just the right person with hook-up sites can be a thorny quest.  And as a therapist in New York, I agree with Leah Reich in her article about sites like Tinder that we may not have the processing power to sift through thousands of matches.  But I wonder, could the quest be fun? If it is like a game that you "keep playing" on your phone, maybe the task becomes how to find our own joy in the process-- our own play in the "playing".  

She writes in, "Playing the Numbers in Digital Dating: What if more choices only make it harder to find one good match?"  that "digital dating allows us to increase our numbers of suitors and objects of interest — Tinder says it has made 2 billion matches to date — but unless you’re a math genius or a hacker who can beat these algorithms at their own game, more isn’t necessarily the answer. It’s about finding good matches in smaller sets. Maybe algorithms aren’t there yet. Or maybe that’s not the goal of the game. Even without computers and phones, long before screens, we’ve always wondered, “But is there someone better?” There’s a simple reason for that, although the simple reason does not have a simple solution: Dating involves humans. We are strange creatures, sometimes brutal, not always photogenic, often delicate. We’re fascinated by metrics, big pictures and endless horizons of possibility. And we always, always want more."

I wonder if the "goal of the game" isn't something closer to accepting our "strange creature" full of endless desire and fascination-- to question "is there someone better" about ourselves-- then, with playful hope-- to enjoy the game!

image.jpg

NYC Sex Therapist Talks: SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND SEX ROLES IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS (DeMarco, 2006)

It's almost my seven year anniversary of completing my doctoral dissertation, so I thought I'd share it.  Here's the abstract for the skimmers.  ;)  

 

ABSTRACT The matter of sexual compulsivity / sex addiction is controversial among sexologists. However, sexually driven behavior varies among individuals as assessed by validated instruments like the Sexual Compulsivity Scale (SCS). The purpose of this research study was to investigate the relation between sexual compulsive behavior and gender role traits (masculinity/femininity) using the SCS and the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) in a nonclinical setting with healthy university students. The working hypothesis was that individuals who score highly on the SCS will also score highly in the masculine areas of the BSRI. The study comprised of 116 students (54 male, 62 female). Men scored significantly higher than women in the SCS, and differed with respect to key questions predicting their individual SCS score. While the SCS was not associated with ethnicity, religion, relationship status or sexual orientation, students with addictive tendencies (tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse) scored significantly higher on this instrument. In the BSRI, female students showed significantly higher “femininity” than male, but no difference in the “masculinity”. The gender role traits were not clearly associated with other demographic characteristics. A direct correlation between sexual compulsivity and gender role traits could only be identified in males: The SCS and masculinity score from BSRI were positively correlated in male participants, and sex-typed “masculine males” scored significantly higher on the SCS. No such association was found with femininity / feminine personality in males or for female students at all. Patients from a sexologist’s office served as a positive control group with significantly higher SCS scores. In conclusion, men show generally increased sexual compulsivity than women, and this phenomenon is directly linked to masculine gender role traits. However, sexually driven behavior in women is more complex and cannot be associated with classical gender role traits.

(Click for Complete Paper)

Enhanced by Zemanta