In trolling the message boards and advice columns as I am wont to do in advertising this blog, one of the most common concerns I see voiced (especially by women) is about sexual dysfunction: am I having enough sex?  Too much?  Why can’t I orgasm?  Why doesn’t my partner feel any pleasure when I do ______?  Is watching porn hurting my sex life?  All these questions make me sad, particularly because I’ve had some of them myself.  It doesn’t seem to matter how open your parents, how knowledgeable your healthcare provider, or how open to experimentation you are, there are still bound to be problems in your perceived sexual health.  That’s seriously depressing.

But, as I’ve found out the hard way, often times “sexual dysfunction” is mental, and the more pressure you put on yourself to perform, the worse you’ll do at “being normal.  Now, this kind of advice is totally infuriating, I know, because being told to relax and let things happen naturally does not solve your problems.  The very passive nature of it tends to aggravate your problems even more, by completely disempowering you.  It makes you desperate to try anything.

Which is why I’m sure a lot of people were excited when the female Viagra came out.  The promises were enticing: an increased sex drive, more pleasure from sex, all around improvement.  *sigh* Ah, hate to break it to you folks, but Cialis and the like are not all their cracked up to be when it comes to the complex and exciting world of female sexuality.  This study at the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Texas-Austin found that Cialis worked about as well as a placebo at increasing female sexual response.

You can take this one of two ways: a glass-half-empty kinda gal would see this development as incredibly negative, only further disempowering women who want to take control of their sex lives.  However, a glass-half-full person will see the other side of the equation, which is light on the pocketbook and heavy on inspiration.  Because the placebo works as well as Cialis at increasing sex drive and satisfaction in women (at about 30% for each group), women who are frustrated with their sex lives don’t need to rely on drugs or hormones to artificially inspire them.  The power is in their own minds.  Placebos are designed to see how the brain’s response to implied medication works.  In this case, when a woman thinks her sex problems are being solved with a drug (even a sugar pill), they are solved not because of the pill, but because she thinks about the pill.

This is actually pretty awesome.  As many researchers have theorized and experimented to prove, the female state of arousal is highly circumstantial and emotional/mental, as opposed to almost exclusively physical like men.   That means that the ball really is in your court.  You are in charge of your own sexuality.  Maybe the cause of so much sexual dysfunction is simply the feeling of foreignness and helplessness that our relationship to our bodies engenders.  So the doctor’s advice?  Get to know yourself.  Get yourself in the mood.  Enjoy your own body.  And don’t rush it.  A woman’s sexual arousal is entirely of her own design.  Own it.

 

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