Why he’s not in the mood

Did you catch my latest sex column in Sydney’s CIAO magazine?
You can check it out at this link or read it below http://www.ciaomagazine.com.au/why-hes-not-in-the-mood/

Society tells us that men are always ready for sex, perpetually randy and constantly thinking about it, while apparently women need to be emotionally in the mood for sex because their sexuality is not as ‘simple’ as a man’s. In reality however, low sexual drive in men is very common and male desire is just as complex as women’s.

These myths can cause problems in relationships, especially for the partner of a man with low sexual desire. Women can often take the rejection personally when grappling with mismatched libidos because of the societal beliefs that men want sex all the time.

In fact, the idea that men could suffer from low sexual desire has been so off the map that researchers have usually focused on ejaculation problems or erectile dysfunction when studying male sexuality. Meanwhile, sexual desire was ignored completely. Only recently is this under researched area finally getting a look in.

Simply put, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is persistently deficient sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity that causes distress and interpersonal problems. In men, it is an under reported and stigmatised sexual dysfunction because it runs contrary to cultural myths about male sexuality.

One in five men has HSDD according to The American Psychiatric Association and other studies say between 13 and 30 percent of men report they have had a digressing lack of sexual desire lasting two months or longer in the past year. Just like female sexual desire, male respondents report social, relationship and psychological reasons for their lack of desire, such as depression, work, stress, tiredness and poor communication in their relationships. Drugs, alcohol and some medications can also hinder libido.

Sexual anxiety plays a huge part in waning desire too, with men being five times more likely to report low sexual desire if they had low confidence in their erections compared with men who didn’t worry about their erections at all.

So how do you solve a problem no one wants to talk about? Studies show pumping a man full of testosterone doesn’t translate into more desire when there are long-standing relationship issues. Men popping Viagra may get a whopping erection but it doesn’t improve sexual desire. These shortcomings in medical treatments highlight the importance of holistic therapy in overcoming HSDD.

Seeing a sex therapist or couples counsellor can help a man discover the reasons for his inhibited desire, explore relationship issues, learn the difference between intimacy and sex, and improve sexual communication skills. Sessions can be customised for individual clients and tackle exactly what is causing the low desire through treatments including sensation, fantasy and masturbation exercises.

Sessions also help expose and re-write irrational thoughts that block desire, such as fear of commitment and abandonment. Ultimately though, people sometimes just need a little help prioritising pleasure and intimacy over intercourse and orgasm.

Words: Cat O Dowd, Sex Therapist and Relationships Counsellor. For more info email cat@creativesexpression.com or visit www.creativesexpression.com.

Why Sex Therapy can help more than popping a pill.

The pharmaceutical industry does promise it has all the answers for male sexuality! It puts a lot of pressure on men to perform to a certain, normalised standard in bed that focuses mainly on the genitals and the genitals alone. It makes men feel anxious and bad about themselves if they don’t live up to these standards. Just pop a little blue pill and everything is fixed! Or is it?

In the ads for Viagra you see happy couples dancing and having fun. The drug promises emotional fulfillment and connection and a happy relationship, but when you think about it- all it does is increase the blood to the penis! Can improving blood flow do all that? Really?

I mean, we still don’t properly understand the connection between psychological processes and physiological response. So, doesn’t it make sense that we should expect challenges in predicting when pharmacological effects on sexual response will be helpful?

I could rant on all day about how I’m not happy with how the medicalization of sexuality dictates a clinical and biological mindset onto sexual functioning while ignoring other factors-but I’ll spare you too much ranting today!

These miracle ads set up high expectations for couples-it’s a wonder drug, a quick fix followed by devastating disappointments if this magic blue pill doesn’t deliver it all. These high expectations can create an even more devastating blow to a man’s sense of masculinity and individual failure, and bring about more stress to the relationship, if the drug does not bring about erectile changes.   The long term physical side effects are questionable and still not known and some users of Viagra speak with concern of the headaches the drug brought about or worries about the cardio side effects.

Sometimes couples are even more unhappy after trying Viagra because popping a little pill didn’t help bring about greater intimacy, connection, communication and sensuality to their relationship and the disappointment can be crushing. As a trained sex therapist, I can help you work on intimacy, communication, touch and sensuality and so much more. I can look at your entire relationship and work with you to improve it on your own terms, not by a pharmaceutical company! I can help you explore your sexuality together in different ways, not just the “rumpy-pumpy penis goes in and out way,’ because there’s so many other options to explore.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying that Viagara can’t help some individuals, I’m just saddened when couples are sold it as the miracle worker for their relationship.