All posts by Ayesha Kazmi

#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

2019-09-19

By Zaofishan Qureshi Published: June 23, 2019

Almost a decade ago, I heard a story about a villager that stuck with me for quite a while. I was in my sophomore year of my psychology degree back then, and my novice brain was quite struck by the story of a teenage villager who screamed at the top of her lungs every time her husband tried to touch her. She had been married for four months, but due to her reactions, no physical intimacy had been initiated.

Initially, the mother-in-law and the women of the house laughed it off, terming it as mere shyness, even though the girl’s entire body would shake and tremble for hours and it looked like she had endured a disaster. After a few attempts at physical intimacy, the husband did not use any kind of force to coerce her into the act.

Assuming the girl screamed because she didn’t like her husband, she would be questioned about why she had agreed to the marriage in the first place. She claimed that she loved her husband and enjoyed spending time with him, but not the physical intimacy. She claimed that no one had neither explained nor prepared her for this and hence she was clueless about this aspect of a marriage.

According to her:

“I thought that marriage was what I saw in the Star Plus soaps; wearing cool clothes, dining out, doing shopping and such things. My first night was the most terrorising experience of my life and I hate how nobody informed me about this.”

Our professors assessed her and concluded that there was no form of asexuality or intellectual disability present; she was simply not prepared.

Marriage holds a lot of importance in a patriarchal society like ours, more than it should. Our entire lives and career choices revolve around marriage. A lot of people, particularly women, are forced to give up their identity, life goals and dreams, just to be married by a particular age. Considering all this then, it is quite ironic how sex education is not provided to people before getting married, neither is there any demand for pre-marriage counselling in the country.

In my clinical practice, I have come across the dire consequences of lack of awareness and sex education. Fear of physical intimacy, or genophobia, is a commonly occurring phenomenon that I have observed during my practice. There are a lot of women who have this phobia in such extreme forms that it inhibits them from consummating any or most form of physical intimacy through the entirety of their marriage.

A senior of mine once narrated a genophobia case to me. Dr Niazi* was an established medical doctor who had been working in the field for a very long time. She had been married for over a decade and disclosed to my colleague the reason for her frequent absences from work and distress. She was on the verge of getting divorced and quite contrary to everyone’s belief, not having any children was not the root cause of it.

“Would you believe me if I tell you that an accomplished female doctor like me, a mature woman in her late 30s, has never been physically intimate with her husband? Because I’m so afraid?”

She further added that despite of every possible cooperation on part of her husband, she was unable to let go of this fear.

Similarly, Miss Sheikh, a girl in her mid-20s, encountered the fear even before getting married. She had three different surgical procedures done in her life for various illnesses and yet she believed that physical intimacy would be more horrific than that. In this case too, the husband was extremely supportive.

However, there are many cases in which the spouse is unable to understand the situation and marital rape becomes a norm as we are neither culturally sensitive to consent nor very aware of this phobia. There are a lot of instances when patients have a hard time coming to terms with being diagnosed with such a condition, or that such a condition even exists.

Even when the husbands are understanding and not forceful, they do fail to identify this as what it is: a form of anxiety disorder. Couples believe there is no solution for a condition such as this and the best they can do is visit a urologist and ask for tips to improve their foreplay or approach to physical intimacy. Whereas, the actual treatment is counselling.

The very reason for genophobia in our society can be seen through a cultural lens. Though it is true that the reasons for this phobia are rooted in a form of sexual abuse, particularly sexual abuse as a child, but most of the women I have come across have genophobia without an adverse life experience.

Furthermore, the practice of arranged marriages makes it more difficult since there are expectations of consummating the marriage on the wedding night. How could it not scare an already fearful, anxious woman? Genophobia is only a natural reaction in such a scenario.

The treatment of genophobia has a fair prognosis. If an adverse sexual experience is involved, it is treated as a product of trauma. In cases where no adverse experience is involved, we work with systematic desensitisation and cognitive behavior therapy as a treatment plan. Considering the cultural inconsideration surrounding sex education, the patient is also educated about their own anatomy in relation to this. Therapies such as Sensate-focus are also used with couples to improve and overcome the situation together.

Shame and shyness are so inclusive in our culture that they breed a care-avoiding attitude in our women regarding their most intimate issues. We shouldn’t be shaming women about these issues and instead encourage them to seek help.

(*Names have been changed to protect identities and doctor-patient confidentiality.)

https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/84621/therapistdiaries-understanding-genophobia-the-fear-of-physical-intimacy/

Am I immoral because I’m attracted to my husband?

Am I immoral because I’m attracted to my husband?

By Shahid Wafa Published: May 15, 2016

During a conversation with a female friend, she let me in on a strange secret. She said,

“Once, my husband doubted my morality,”

I remained silent, mostly out of curiosity. She continued and said,

“It happened when I tried to get intimate with him; not with a stranger but with him, my own husband.”

“What exactly do you mean?” I asked bewildered.

“He hadn’t come home from work and I was missing him. Aroused, I approached him, thinking he’d appreciate that. In return he gave me a stern look and said, what is wrong with you? Why are you behaving so immorally?”

This was expressed with a dejected and forlorn look on her face. Naturally, this would affect any wife.

Surprised by her story, I tried to convince her that Pakistani men were neither this judgmental nor as narrow-minded.

“No that’s not the case. A man may approach his wife whenever he wants, because he is the husband, but when his wife wants to exercise the same right, she is immediately labelled as immoral,” she replied angrily.

“Perhaps, your husband has some sort of psychological knot in his head.”

I responded, in an effort to try and figure out the reason behind his strange behaviour.

“If this sort of mentality is prevalent in all men, then it’s safe to say that the entire male population in our society has psychological issues – not just my husband.” she added.

I was honestly beginning to get a bit impatient and bothered by her generalised accusations. How was she finding it so easy to blame all men for her husband’s fault?

“What do you mean?” I asked out of politeness.

“Just so you should know Mr Shahid, newly wed brides are instructed by elder females in the family to show deliberate ‘self-control’ during intimacy, especially in the early days of marriage. Now isn’t that an example of unfair moral policing? The slightest expression of natural desire towards one’s own husband is enough to declare a woman as morally corrupt. Isn’t that completely absurd?

Women are also human beings and have feelings, just as men do. They also need comfort and pleasure like any other human, regardless of their gender. How can anyone associate this with one’s morality and character? It makes no sense.” She added.

After listening to her, I figured there may be some truth in what she told me. It really couldn’t have been based on imagination.

So, in order to evaluate her accusations and stereotypes, I asked an elderly man whether it should or is considered ‘incorrect’ for a wife to initiate intimacy with her husband.

“How can it be wrong? She has every right to. There really is no objectionable element in such behaviour, but during these 40 years of my marriage, my wife has never done this. Not even once.”

Concluded the elderly man with great pride.

That satisfaction on his face validated my colleague’s heartfelt allegations.

To further probe into this warped mind-set, I discussed the matter with one of my friends. He handed me an old book on morals, traditions and ethics and advised me to read the chapter “Azdwaaaji Zindagi kay Adaab” (Ethics of married life). I didn’t even know such a book existed!

What is so ‘filthy’ and ‘unnatural’ about reproductive sex, Pakistan?

What is so ‘filthy’ and ‘unnatural’ about reproductive sex, Pakistan?

By Dureen Anwer Published: September 9, 2016

A close friend of mine recently had an STI (sexually transmitted infection) scare. Despite being in excruciating pain, she was scared to ask her husband how she got the infection. After a few days of discomfort and suffering, she consulted a doctor who put her mind to rest by confirming that she had a yeast infection because of diabetes. But during this whole episode, I was surprised to find out how ignorant she was about sexual health.

First, she was adamant that she couldn’t get an STI from her husband because he was absolutely fine, which is irrelevant and factually incorrect because some STIs are asymptomatic – meaning the person who has the infection don’t show any symptoms. Second, after ruling out her husband, she suspected getting the infection from a toilet since it was shared between her and a relative. This wasn’t the first time I had heard an absurdly naive theory about how people get STIs in Pakistan. I remember the days when I was working for a trade association and was told by a colleague that people get HIV, STIs and even diabetes by using public toilets! Yes, someone said that and that someone wasn’t illiterate. That person was an accomplished professional and an independent woman.

Several years later, now that I am working for the healthcare sector in the UK, I observe how young people are educated about these potentially serious and deadly diseases. Let me clarify a few things particularly for the crowd that proudly claims: Pakistani kids do not have sex before marriage so they don’t need sex education.

What they teach here in the UK isn’t just about sex; they call it relationships and sex education for a reason. Secondly, young people in Pakistan do exhibit some risky behaviour before marriage – be it in a serious relationship or with a random stranger. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how young boys are often dared to experiment with transvestite street performers. Even if we were to believe that the Pakistani youth does not indulge in sex before marriage, they do get married and trust me the advice given by elders (for marital bliss and expression of physical desires when someone is getting married) is often not the best advice.

Boys are not told that some girls are born without a hymen and girls are not given the courage to say no to their husbands during intimacy when they are being disrespectful. Expressing your carnal needs is looked down upon if done by a woman and deemed natural if done at the most inappropriate hour by a man. I have known people who accidentally lost their virginity because no one told them when to stop physical advances by someone they weren’t in a serious relationship with. And the cherry on top is that we always assume that it’s only women who can be physically abused.

In Pakistan, we are embarrassed to talk about sex because we think of it as filthy and unnatural. But the truth is that the experience could contribute positively to one’s mental health if done respectfully and with the right person. The ‘no sex talk’ policy only results in ignorance which is often confused with innocence and purity. In today’s world, you don’t want your children to be ignorant about sex because people will (and they do) take advantage of that. They will hurt your children physically, mentally and emotionally.

Imagine a scenario where a spouse tells their better half that they don’t like certain things about their partner’s physical appearance. Surely we change, adapt and improve for the people we love but some things are beyond human control, such as a physical feature. Wouldn’t you all agree that such conversations could be detrimental to not only one’s confidence but to the relationship as well? So how can we stop marriages from falling apart without blaming women liberation and western influence? We must educate our youth about respecting their partners and it being okay to expect the same in return.

Also, protecting one’s health (including sexual health) is a basic human right. Why is it generally acceptable in Pakistan for men to have sexual encounters outside their marriage and bring several diseases home? Why aren’t they taught how to be safe and also protect their partners? Why can’t their wives be assertive about their own marital rights?

Case in point: The friend who was too scared to talk to her husband about her STI scare because she didn’t want to upset him.

I think we, as a nation, are pretentious and have double standards when it comes to intimacy. Why do we cringe while watching a condom advertisement on television but are perfectly okay to watch vulgar dances in movies? Why do we have these stigmas, fears, misconceptions and misinformation about sex and sexual health? Surely, our religion is practical and in no way oppressive or unreasonable.

Our double standards about sex and sexual health are evident when we look at the statistics. According to UNAIDS, 100,000 people were living with HIV in Pakistan during 2015. In 2014, an 11% increase was reported in mortality rates from HIV/AIDs in Pakistan and if you want to learn further about STIs/STDs then read this article published in Express Tribune.

I am a mother and I do plan to teach my children how to love themselves and their bodies. Anyone telling them that they are inadequate or ugly doesn’t deserve to be a part of their lives. I will teach my children their rights about fertility, safety and pleasure. I will tell them that they have to prioritise their own health and well-being in all circumstances that no relationship is worth compromising your own mental or physical health. I will give them the confidence to say no and to be okay with their feelings.

But for those mothers who are not in a position to do all of this, why can’t a trained professional deliver lectures to youth in colleges and universities? If it is so shameful, perhaps have separate lessons for different genders and sexual orientations. What is so taboo about healthy relationships and physical health? Would you rather have your child learn about sex at the right time by the right person or would you let them go out and discover things on their own (which might result in life-altering damages)?

https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/39986/what-is-so-filthy-and-unnatural-about-reproductive-sex-pakistan/

Gay ‘Chemsex’ Linked To Rise in HIV Cases in Europe

Gay ‘Chemsex’ Linked To Rise in HIV Cases in Europe

Chemsex parties, when people get high and have sex for days with a number of partners is gaining popularity in Europe, which has led to a rapid spread of HIV.

During chemsex, people use drugs such as crystal meth to enhance their arousal and pleasure, NBC News reported. Rusi Jaspal, a professor of psychology and sexual health at De Montfort University in the Britain who studies the spread of HIV and the chemsex scene, says the mix of drugs and sex increases the spread of viruses in groups subject to HIV, like the gay community.

“People are not scared anymore of HIV,” Ignacio Labayen de Inza, a chemsex expert who works at U.K. clinics said, according to NBC News. “Many people I see say they think ‘it’s only a matter of time anyway, so I might as well have some fun.'”

In a U.K. study, 30 percent of HIV positive men surveyed said they had participated in chemsex in the past year.

What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About Sex?

What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About Sex?

Men have a far greater appetite for sex and are more attracted to pornography than women are. This is the timeworn stereotype that science has long reinforced. Alfred Kinsey, America’s first prominent sexologist, published in the late 1940s and early 1950s his survey results confirming that men are aroused more easily and often by sexual imagery than women. It made sense, evolutionary psychologists theorized, that women’s erotic pleasure might be tempered by the potential burdens of pregnancy, birth and child rearing — that they would require a deeper emotional connection with a partner to feel turned on than men, whose primal urge is simply procreation. Modern statistics showing that men are still the dominant consumers of online porn seem to support this thinking, as does the fact that men are more prone to hypersexuality, whereas a lack of desire and anorgasmia are more prevalent in women. So it was somewhat surprising when a paper in the prestigious journal P.N.A.S. reported in July that what happens in the brains of female study subjects when they look at sexual imagery is pretty much the same as what happens in the brains of their male counterparts.

A critical need for sex education

A critical need for sex education

2019-08-22

In a prevailing society of silence and taboo on adolescent’s natural desires or habits, the assumption-based project of sexual ignorance appears to have failed its grade in streamlining the youth’s sexual well-being and state of mind.  In the contemporary era of helicopter parenting where parents pay attention to every aspect of their children’s lives, they somehow neglect or struggle to discuss and educate their teenagers about the one aspect of life – natural and beautiful habits of reproduction, as they frequently feel ashamed, or too shy to speak about its progression. However,  this wrong approach of neglecting household education in sex-related growth has resulted in severe impairment in the mental and physical aspect of a young adult’s sexual health, as this deprivation of knowledge has often led to people’s high school and college life to be driven with unwanted or uncontrollable sexual desires, which could potentially harm both life’s conditional growth and career’s prospects.  

When human species are living within the realm of adolescence, i.e., from the age group of 15- 21, the human body experiences a hormonal outburst; which explodes into a range of emotions, affecting many aspects of life such as personality, emotions, feelings, sexuality, self-acceptance and personal belief.  It is within this region of growing existence, where teenagers (adolescents) find themselves stuck in the web of vulnerability, due to imbalances in sensation and life’s intentions.

During this phase of hormonal imbalances, teenagers require critical assistance, as similar to how cruise-ships navigate past rough seas with the crucial aid of anchors and other facilities during long journeys, the social-human vessels, i.e., adolescents require additional anchors called parental support and guidance, to prevent them from sinking beneath the ocean of strenuous difficulties within life. This representation of parental streamlining requires careful and delicate crafts of care to not just extrinsic standards of living such as academics, or sociability, but it also requires a matured approach towards explaining, some of the crucial and delicate functions of intrinsic life such as sexuality in a responsible manner.  

If the educational discussion of sexuality remains boycotted between both generation of adults and adolescents, then the entire stand of guidance based on academics, physicality or sociability could fall into hindsight, as though parental advice on academics and sociability play a key role in one’s holistic development, the negligence of sex education from parents could damage teenagers and young adults’ lifestyle and entire existence. Why? It is because this negligence has seen adolescents taking a leap of pleasure through self-sex education by indulging in several life-destroying activities by being sub-consciously manipulated by stress imbalances and curiosity caused by hormonal activity.

Today, thousands of parents have been blinded by the innumerable ways where their children often attempt to educate themselves sexually and participate in several pleasurable activities (stress relieving).  The most common scenario for pleasure is in person; where youth enjoy sexual indulgences with unwanted and unfamiliar people by making college life a sexual paradise, where people visit unwanted attractions such as HIV, hepatitis, other Sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, and relationship issues.  Additionally, the internet is also another pleasurable hub where adolescents follow daily educational illustrations, carried out through webcam sex on Appear, Skype, Facetime, and many other portals. The reasoning for why these practices are carried out is due to sub-conscious possession and self-hypnotism based on curiosity whose original purpose of sexual relations, hasn’t been established by parental advice and intervention (the emergence of dangerous addictions).

Consequently, the aftermath of repercussion faced by victims of sex-related education-turned-addiction often results in the need for parents to dive deep down into treacherous waters, to find their incapacitated teenagers or young adults who drowned after being wrecked by their inability to fight off addictions.  This wreckage is a result of the burden formed by shame, depression, unbearable sensitivity, and self-inflicted guilt, which ultimately causes suicides, illnesses, and family damage. Eventually, this slow realization has been a norm due to a variety of factors, such as weak generative guidance from parents and growth of taboo related ignorance.  

Therefore, as parents in a sensitive and complicated world, it is essential to maintain a standard of personal respect and dignity in public, but it is also even more important to value personal space and expose private and intrinsic vulnerability (sex education) to teenagers (15-16 and above) and young adults.  Conclusively, as we continue to nurture the youth, we need to realize that though different people will have different opinions regarding sex education, I believe that with the constant rise in adolescent irresponsibility in sexuality, sex education should not be considered taboo in families, instead, it should be taught with the most responsibility. As not only, will its inculcation prevent the youth from going astray, but it will also help them genuinely recognize their maturity and responsibility in life. Ultimately, parents should realize that sexuality is not a self-learned subject for adolescents, but a sensitive subject which without intervention could destroy, but with care could flourish in the purest form.

“ I believe that, if parents genuinely value their children’s lives and future by doing whatever it takes for the child’s growth, then they should abandon the substantiation of taboo-related excuses of shame when discussing the crucial aspect of sex education, and instead consider it as the one significant lesson which forms a tight rope between the balance of success and a slip of failure into darkness.”DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Author: Rohan Keni I am a 19-year-old student hailing from Goa, India. Over the years, I was raised in Dubai and have recently relocated to Missouri, USA to pursue a degree in. . .

Report shows parents’ failure in talking to children about sex

Report shows parents’ failure in talking to children about sex

2019-06-28

A new report has laid bare parents’ failure to educate their children, especially girls, on sexual reproductive health, leaving the responsibility to the internet.The report by Geopoll has also shown that youths are more worried about contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) than unplanned pregnancies or being sexually abused.

The report, released on June 11, states that while majority of the youth would be interested in sexual reproductive health education, parents play a minimal role in imparting this knowledge to them.For example, 62 per cent of the youths polled said they learnt about menstruation from school, with just 12 per cent saying they were informed of the same by their parents.When asked what had been their “most important” source of information on sexual reproductive health, parents also came a distant second at 17 per cent, the same level with social media, internet, books and magazines.

TV and radio was cited as the “most important” source of information on sexual reproductive health at 42 per cent for the non-educated youths.The picture was even worse when the same question was posed on “educated youth” as parents did not appear among the listed top nine preferred sources of sexual reproductive health.

In this category, social media was cited as the most preferred way of receiving this information at 31 per cent, followed by school extracurricular workshops (23 per cent) and class setting (17 per cent).

“It became apparent that parents are one of the least used sources of information on appropriate sexual reproductive health education at only five per cent in Nairobi and Homa Bay counties, 11 per cent in Kilifi, four per cent in Narok, eight per cent in Nyeri and nine per cent in Wajir County,” the report reads in part.The study involved interviewing 1,125 youths between the ages of 18 and 24 in Nairobi, Kilifi, Homa Bay, Narok, Nyeri and Wajir Counties.A disturbing finding, as revealed by Geopoll Director of Project Management Tavian MacKinnon, is the fact that youths are more frightened by the idea of contracting STDs than unwanted pregnancies or being sexually abused.

“As one of our top concerns, we identified that 38 per cent of respondents said they would want to know more about HIV/Aids, 22 per cent would want to learn more about contraceptives and only 6 per cent wanted to learn more about sex,” said MacKinnon.Further, only 10 per cent were interested in learning about sexual rights.

These findings mirror the situation in Kilifi County, which has been in the news over cases of teenage pregnancies linked to poor knowledge on uptake of contraceptives.As a result, at least 17,000 teenage pregnancies were reported in the county last year, where five per cent of the pregnant teens also contracted HIV.Jiactivate Chairperson Grayson Marwa said Kilifi was one of the counties in which the organisation had rolled out a programme on comprehensive sex education after the survey partnered with Geopoll.

“This survey was informed by the findings from media and a report done by the United Nations Population Fund that put three counties – Kilifi, Narok and Homa Bay – with the highest number of teen pregnancy rates and as such we are rolling out an intense three-year mitigation campaign in those counties,” said Marwa.He said the organisation would similarly extend the conversation online, which has been found to be a major source of sexual reproductive health education, through a campaign dubbed WIWIK (What I Wish I Knew).

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001331304/report-shows-parents-failure-in-talking-to-children-about-sex

It’s time to talk about sexual incompatibility

It’s time to talk about sexual incompatibility

2019-06-11

What happens if you meet someone kind, smart and funny, but erotically you just don’t click? Alix Fox explores the frustration of sexual incompatibility

On paper, Rohanna and Dan*, 26, were such a match they’d set the page alight. “I was totally disarmed by the chemistry,” she recalls. “He had a fascinating brain, a sweet soul, a fabulous job and he was as doe-eyed over me as I was over him.”

But when it came to having sex, the man who seemed destined to be Rohanna’s everything did nothing for her. “We both had so much enthusiasm, but it was like our bodies didn’t mesh. I kept waiting for something to kick in. It was a kick in the guts when it didn’t. We stayed together for six months then split up.”

When sex seems hexed in this way, it can be as mysterious as it is heart-wrenching. “Evidence is scant, but it’s been suggested there may be subconscious mechanisms at play in some cases of erotic incompatibility,” says Cynthia Graham, professor of sexual and reproductive health at the University of Southampton. “Evolutionary psychologists have posited that we might experience sexual clashes with people whose genetic complexes are discordant to our own, because it affects the ability of us and our potential offspring to fight disease.

But often, incompatibility comes down to a contrast in sexual tastes and appetites – most notably, a mismatch in libidos. Data from Natsal, the British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (one of the broadest and most detailed scientific studies of its kind worldwide) indicates one in four UK couples are imbalanced in their desire for sex.

“It’s common, but it can be devastatingly destructive,” observes psychosexual therapist Aoife Drury. “If the higher-libido individual pushes for sex, the partner with the lower drive can feel anxious or angry, thus losing desire further. The higher-libido individual may then stop initiating sex for fear of rejection or being seen to nag. Intimacy grinds to a halt, creating feelings of resentment or disconnect.”

A survey by dating site eHarmony found that 20% of Brits feel they’re somehow sexually incompatible with their partners. Problems cited include one person being more focused on the physical rather than emotional side of sex and differences in degrees of erotic adventurousness or allure towards a fetish. Yet there are two commonalities running through virtually all incidences.

“Firstly, people expect sex to be unrealistically harmonised in a way nothing else in relationships, or life, is,” says Kate Moyle, resident therapist on BBC Three’s new counselling series Sex On The Couch. “And secondly, perhaps because Brits find sex excruciating to talk about, they may write issues off as inherent, unfixable incompatibility and move on, rather than attempt to address them in any real, practical manner.”

Graham believes this second factor is key. “Natsal’s report showed the strongest predictor of sexual problems, short and long-term, to be a lack of effective communication,” she adds. Learning to communicate and collaborate is the best thing anyone can do for their love life.

But what does that actually look like? If you and your lover decide that trying to increase your sexual rapport is worth a shot, the following advice – while not comprehensive – is better than taking a clueless shot in the dark. Consider it a jumping-off point. It might give you hope that you don’t need to jump ship. Start by viewing sex as something most people work on, rather than something that should just work. “If we see incompatibility as inevitable, we can remove some of the shame and start to think creatively and constructively about it,” suggests Meg-John Barker, co-author of Enjoy Sex: How, When And If You Want To. 

SEE AN OPPORTUNITY, NOT A TASK

A lot of what makes sex fun is exploring and playing. “The idea of consistently wanting exactly the same type of sex as your partner might ostensibly seem perfect, but as well as being improbable, in the long term it could even get boring. Examining sexual divisions offers unique opportunities for personal development and revelatory discoveries,” says Moyle.

This might seem trite, especially if you’re in a relationship where sexual issues have run on so long and the damage has ploughed so deep that your soul feels sandpapered raw, but it is at least worth heading into the process with a positive head on.

Comedian Fran Bushe’s show Ad Libido centres on her struggle with vaginismus: a condition whereby the vaginal muscles involuntarily clamp shut. “I have to do extensive admin with partners to actively build up our sexual compatibility because of how my body functions,” Bushe says, “but it means we create something special together; they’re not just whipping out the same toolkit of moves that worked on their ex.”

ACKNOWLEDGE THE AWKWARD

Therapeutic exercises can feel excruciatingly contrived when you first attempt them. Many have a tree-huggy vibe that makes you cringe. “Recognising how silly and vulnerable you feel out loud helps break the tension, and laughing about it together is bonding,” says psychosexual therapist Sarah Berry. Studiously pretending that embarrassment doesn’t exist is a form of performance, when your real goal should be to share authentic, honest experiences.

Darrell, 31, was suffering from erectile dysfunction (along with 11.7 million other men in the UK, according to online medical service Zava), in his case caused by anxiety, so he and his partner Sheena, also 31, tried rebooting their strained sex life using the ‘sensate focus’ method.

“You start by touching each other while still fully clothed, avoiding erogenous zones, then gradually build up intensity over a series of weeks, to help you tune into sensations and emotions,” he explains. “We both felt like dicks, but by week four, my dick worked. Removing expectations I had to get it up helped, but so too did giggling at the ridiculousness. For months our bedroom had been the site of tearful rows.”

THINK ABOUT WHY YOU HAVE SEX

“A 2007 paper published by The University of Texas at Austin identified 237 different motivations subjects gave for having sex, from ‘to show thanks for something my partner has done’ to ‘it gets rid of a headache’ to ‘it makes me feel closer to God’,” says Jennifer Gunsaullus, the host of Dr Jenn’s Den, a sex education show on YouTube. “Examining the true reasons we’re seeking sex in each instance – like relief from boredom or stress, or for a self-esteem boost – can highlight where alternative actions may still satisfy our needs.”

SCHEDULE SENSUALITY

Setting out a schedule for sex has a bad rep; it seems clinical and unromantic for lovemaking not to spontaneously spring from burning desire. Yet setting aside predetermined windows for eroticism shows that it’s a priority, and is a damn sight better than leaving things to wither indefinitely on the backburner while life gets in the way.

Plus, knowing when to expect intimacy saves higher-libido partners from the fear their ad hoc come-ons might be crushingly rejected or interpreted as hectoring. It also allows lower libido partners to build the anticipation and get their head in the right place for jumping into bed

EXPAND YOUR IDEA OF WHAT COUNTS AS SEX

“Make sex menus: brainstormed lists of all the sensual and thrilling things you know you like or would be up for trying, and see where you and your partner overlap,” suggests Barker. Download DIY guides from megjohnandjustin.com.

INTRODUCE THE PURPLE PASS

Named after Prince, who in his hit Alphabet Street sings, “Tonight I’m just not in the mood, so if you don’t mind, I would like to watch,” the ‘purple pass’ involves giving your partner permission to masturbate while you witness them approvingly. You might encourage them by enthusing about how hot they look, so they get off and you take part without doing anything physical that you don’t feel up to.

DON’T LET LABELS RESTRICT YOU

“There’s so much power in proudly naming your fetishes and fascinations, but labels like ‘dominant’ can become restrictive cages if they’re interpreted too rigidly – and not the saucy kind of cage,” says Gunsaullus. Before writing someone off because they don’t share your particular kink, examine what you get from it emotionally. You might enjoy being submissive in S&M scenarios because you find relief in relinquishing responsibility, maybe you like to please by fulfilling orders or perhaps a powerful lover fixating upon you makes you feel craved.

There are softer ways to serve these longings if your partner doesn’t always want to take the reins or is still learning the ropes. Think of your kinks as you liking a type of energy rather than having a set identity. But what if you reach an impasse because you and your partner’s kinks are too much in sync and you both want to play the same role? “My girlfriend and I are both submissive,” says Janine*, 24. “When it’s my turn to play domme, I command her to spank me or use a dildo on me while I lay pliant, so I’m in charge but still get a similar physical experience to being the underling.”

MAKE USE OF RESOURCES

“I wish people viewed therapists for sex like they do dentists for their teeth, and visited them as a preventative measure to set their private lives on a healthy course rather than waiting until everything is rotten and they are falling out,” says Moyle.

However, if you’re not at the stage of seeking private counselling but want professional assistance in navigating incompatibilities, resources are out there. Sex coaching site Betty Martin features free videos and printable worksheets for couples. Mindfulness app Headspace offers guided meditations centred on relationships. Where Should We Begin?, a podcast that listeners have dubbed ‘the Rosetta Stone of feelings’, lets you listen in on real-life couples’ sessions with psychotherapist Esther Perel.

Educational site The School Of Life’s Pillow Talk cards help pilot constructive conversations about topics like sexual shame and power dynamics, while the London-based Havelock Clinic provides 45-minute online workshops on sexual desire and you can talk to their medical experts via instant message throughout the session.

MAKE PEACE WITH THE SITUATION

Certain couples do find that they never erotically align, so some decide to draw a line under their relationship. “I grafted at sex for eight years with a man I loved but whose natural drive was far lower and plainer than mine,” says Kathryn, 32. “We both tried so hard, but I hit a stage where whatever I was learning by trying to meet him in the middle was outweighed by what I lost by leaving my satisfaction on the sidelines.”

Yet even if sexual incompatibility remains, ‘sadly stay’ or ‘go, gutted’ are not the only options. “I challenge that binary,” says Barker. “You might consider opening things up. Consensual non-monogamy works for many people by allowing them to maintain wonderful, close relationships while having their sexual needs met elsewhere.

But there are also many folks who simply decide sex isn’t important to them after all, especially over time. I undertook a study into ‘enduring love’ with Jacqui Gabb, professor of sociology and intimacy at The Open University, which found that many, if not most, long-term couples had sincerely happy relationships that didn’t feature much sex together.”

For some ‘incompatible’ pairings, concluding that sex isn’t the be-all and end-all is the key to a happy ending. But for others, taking sex seriously enough to wholeheartedly commit to discovering and nurturing the parts where their individual Venn diagrams of sexuality overlap – that’s what prevents it being over.

Lily says:

“You can have great sex because somebody has a wonderful penis and knows how to use it, even though you’re not that into them. Or you can meet someone you connect with, but their penis is just not doing it. I’m pretty good at faking it, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. But this is a serious issue. There are girls who think there’s something wrong with them because they haven’t had an orgasm yet.”

SERIES

Lily Allen Takes Over

Men initiate sex 3 times more often than women in a long-term relationship: Study

Men initiate sex 3 times more often than women in a long-term relationship: Study

2019-05-17

According to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, men are three-times more likely to initiate sex as compared to women in a long-term heterosexual relationship.

Men initiate sex more than three times as often as women do in a long-term, heterosexual relationship, says a study.

Disclaimer: TheHealthSite.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here and the results may vary from person to person. The topics in these pages including text, graphics, videos and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice.
https://www.thehealthsite.com/news/men-initiate-sex-3-times-more-often-than-women-in-a-long-term-relationship-study-667011/

Many marriages in Pakistan are troubled by sexual incompatibility but no one talks about it

Many marriages in Pakistan are troubled by sexual incompatibility but no one talks about it

2019-04-26

Lack of sex education and sexual intimacy has adverse effects on couples’ married lives

BY KAUKAB TAHIR 

KARACHI: Rarely ever taken to experts, sexual incompatibility is dismissed as a non-issue. Sarah Aziz*, a 32-year-old divorcee – 28 at the time of marriage – says the root cause of the failure of her marriage was her partner’s sexual orientation. For the longest time, the couple struggled as her husband insisted that the lack of sexual intimacy between them was due to erectile dysfunction. But the truth was that he was gay.

“Even lying naked in his arms wasn’t enough to arouse him, and not once did he have an erection that lasted longer than five minutes … enough for him to be able to penetrate.”

Just so his orientation remained closeted, he even took Viagra but nothing made the situation better. She says, “I had to live in agony for over two years until one day I caught him doing a Skype session with a man.”

As a set norm in Pakistan, married couples are expected to deal with sexual incompatibility behind closed doors and drawn curtains. In this silent struggle, many red flags go unnoticed until it is too late. Kinza Raza*, who is 23 years old (21 at the time of marriage), spoke to Cutacut about her traumatic, four-month-long relationship with her impotent partner. Crushed under society’s many taboos on the subject, Raza suffered from sexual discontentment silently. She kept quiet out of fear of judgement and blame, thinking that talking about problems in her sex life and sharing what she was going through would worsen things for her.

“Even lying naked in his arms wasn’t enough to arouse him”

“Since my husband was impotent, we could never have sex,” says Raza. But instead of working with her on the problem, her husband would beat her up, threatening her to never speak about it. Raza continued to suffer alone, in silence, until one day she fought back and beat up her husband with a wiper.

These stories are far too common in  Pakistani society. A number of young people, especially women, have heartbreaking accounts surrounding sexual dissatisfaction in wedlock.

Misinformation about sex

But the issue doesn’t only extend to women; men, too, struggle to discern head from tail. Couples aren’t aware of the basic dos and don’ts of having sex. They are yet to inform themselves on what may result in a pregnancy.

“I had a love marriage and despite being extremely fond of my wife, I was scared to penetrate thinking she might get pregnant,” said Mubeen Ahmed*, a 30-year-old working professional. Ahmed said even until the end of their honeymoon, the couple hadn’t had intercourse. Only after coming back from the trip, when his partner sought medical help and was prescribed contraceptives, they felt comfortable enough to consummate the marriage.

Speaking of misconceptions, Dr Kishwar Lucas, a general practitioner and sonologist at Karachi’s Good Samaritan Hospital, shared a harrowing experience where she examined a patient who complained that she was unable to conceive.

After a thorough checkup, it turned out that her hymen was still intact and that she was having anal sex with her husband that whole time.

“Men misuse girls and misbehave with them,” said Dr Lucas. Plenty of similar cases are reported to hospitals on the daily.

Sexual health and emotional well-being

Sometimes, the cause of sexual discomfort between couples is also linked to a person’s previous sexual experience. If diagnosed in a timely manner, it can be treated through cognitive therapy.

Problems around not being able to perform sexually generally stem from psychological ups and downs. Many times, the psychological hangups manifest into adverse effects on a person’s physiological health. So it makes matters worse when treatments such as counseling therapy are shunned by our society when, in fact, they should be readily available.

Neither children nor adults are provided the adequate knowledge. The information should come through a reliable source within their reach instead of porn or gossip, said Dr Humair Yusuf, a psychotherapist and private practitioner based in Karachi.

Read: Does watching too much porn affect your sex life?

“It is about time that torrents are excluded from the list of sources that teenagers (and adults) learn about sex from.”

Learning about sex from unreliable sources 

Curiosity around sex and asking questions about it is discouraged. When compared, this censorship is especially strong among teenage girls as sexual empowerment for women remains a taboo subject in our society.

People can only be prepared on what to expect if they are taught about sex from a young age, preferably their teens. Radio silence about these matters leads teenagers, especially girls, into believing that sex is an unspeakable crime or sexual activity makes them untouchable.

Read: We answer sex questions guys are too afraid to ask

“The problem in our society is that sex has been extremely romanticised, and not educating 17 or 18-year-olds — who are dating and are suffering from peer pressure — often lands them into trouble because they are not aware,” says Amna Imran, a lecturer and a mother of an 11-year-old. “I am open and honest with my daughter. She already knows that babies aren’t sent into this world through angels but in fact come out of the mother’s womb.”

How do we fix this endemic?

It is a norm in Pakistan for people to be exposed to sexual activity only after they are married. Prior to that, most are sexually inactive. They discover their sexuality and learn about their sexual health once they enter wedlock, which makes things a lot more complicated.

Ideally, the government should take up the responsibility to educate masses about healthy sexual habits, added Dr Yusuf.

In the age of the Internet, where people, including teenagers, regularly indulge in pornography, it is crucial that they learn about healthy sexual relations from a young age.

“People aren’t able to flag issues because they don’t have the slightest idea. It is important we conduct timely counseling so couples know when to escalate the problem,” stressed Dr Lucas.

Men are still able to identify the signs but it takes women a long time to figure out what’s going on. By the time they learn, their relationship and sexual chemistry has already worsened irreparably, she adds.

*Names have been changed to protect identity