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Jan 21, 2008

Sexual hiccups

Australian sex therapist and relationship counsellor Dr Rosie King talks about the factors that could affect the passion in a relationship and lead to a breakdown in sexual relations, and hence intimacy between a couple.

IF either partner is unable to have sex because of physical reasons, the best course of action would be to see a doctor.

“There may be many factors at play. A woman may suffer from some form of sexual pain disorder or vaginismus. The latter is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles make intercourse impossible.

“Men may suffer from premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction (ED), among other things.

“It would be wise to consult a doctor to allay fears and possibly find a solution to your sexual problems. More often than not, most of these problems are treatable,” advises sex therapist and relationship counsellor Dr Rosie King.

Ignorance is not bliss

One of the most common sexual problems is related to ignorance and fallacies about sex.

“Many people know very little about sex and what they do know is based on what they see in the media – which in most cases, is widely-exaggerated!

“In this part of the world especially, children tend to receive little or no sex education while at school and parents are not forthcoming in matters of a sexual nature. It would be easier to improve the quality of sex if we knew a little more about it.

“While pleasing a partner in bed or being on the receiving end of pleasure may not be rocket science, it helps if we know how to make sex more exciting,” Dr King said.

I’m no Superman

Watching too much TV may be detrimental to our sex lives. This is because Hollywood tends to portray its stars as insatiable tigers in bed.

“We would have unrealistic expectations if we’re basing what we have to do in bed with what we see on TV or in the movies! Men would have to be studs who have to perform on command and last for hours with a Grade 4 erection!

“This leads to all kinds of problems for flesh-and-blood men and adds to their performance anxiety. Bear in mind that anxiety affects sexual function,” Dr King said.

Women are not spared either. “TV sirens seem to want it 24/7 and they get turned on at the drop of a hat!

“Multiple orgasms are a norm for them too. This leads to performance anxiety in women who may ask themselves why they are so different. They should remember that they are not abnormal.

“After all, studies have shown that only 29% of women have an orgasm every time they have sex,” Dr King added.

Not tonight, dear

There’s a right and wrong way to do anything – even when it comes to putting your partner in the mood for sex.

“A major turn-off would be not knowing what to do to maximise your partner’s arousal and pleasure. One of the solutions to this problem is communication – even in bed. You have to let your partner know what you need to put you in the mood for sex and to make it truly memorable.

“Bear in mind that your partner is not a mind reader. Don’t be selfish in bed either. There’s no bigger turn-off than that,” Dr King said.

Women are from Venus, men are from Mars

The great gender divide is another cause of sexual problems. Dr King elaborates: “A lot of couples don’t realise that their partner’s sexual responses are different from theirs.

“This goes back to the fact that men and women are turned on and off by different things.

“Women tend to be distracted by factors such as lack of privacy and poor communication while it would take a lot more to turn a men’s sexual interest off!

“Consideration is the key here. Men have to be patient and provide adequate foreplay to put a woman in the mood (an average of 15 to 20 minutes) for sex. If couples are considerate of their partners’ desire enhancers, sexual problems would be at a minimum.”

Time goes by so fast

A major cause of sexual problems is related to ageing. After all, as men and women age, sexual function tends to change.

“If one is ignorant of these changes, the relationship could suffer. Bear in mind that sexual response in men and women slow down as they get older. Both parties need more stimulation and time to be aroused. It’s not so easy for men to achieve Grade 4 erections and lubrication in women may be reduced. Orgasms are harder to achieve and sadly, its intensity is decreased. These are just facts of life,” Dr King said.

Despite these factors, Dr King added that sex should remain an important factor in our lives even as our hair turns grey and our bodies appear less firm.

“The Pfizer Global Better Sex Survey has shown that 90% of Malaysian men and 78% of Malaysian women aged 55 to 64 still believe that sex is a necessary component to a fulfilling life. Let’s bear that in mind.

“Indeed, sex can remain pleasurable no matter how old you are. Even though our bodies go through many changes as we age, we should remember that sex can be as much fun in our golden years as it was in our youth,” she concluded.

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