Female Sexual Dysfunction, FSD: Myth or Reality?
Including Three Facts about Male and Female Sexual Arousal.
Have we seriously questioned why 43% of women are supposedly ‘sexually dysfunctional’, or why 70% of women are said to be unable to reach orgasm during intercourse?
There is no question that a significant number of women experience difficulty with one or more of the stages of their full sexual cycle leading up to and following orgasm, whether the difficulty consists of lack of sexual desire, sustaining arousal and/or achieving orgasm. In 2015 following a long and ferocious race amongst pharmaceutical companies which were competing to find the holy grail of female sexual desire; the miracle pill which could solve female sexual dysfunction, the FDA conditionally approved Filibrasen, often called the female version of Viagra, along with its potentially serious side effects.
There appears to be a prevailing belief that there is a common and intrinsic problem with women whose sex drive does not match that of men, and that the solution to this ‘problem’ is a pill. I would like to suggest that female sexual dysfunction is largely a myth arising from a comparison with men. Because the topic of female sexual anatomy remains largely a societal taboo, research on female sexuality has been very slow in getting up to speed. An example is that medical science has completely ignored the amazing internal anatomy of the clitoris. Ever since the 1930’s the medical consensus has been that since the clitoris doesn’t play a role in reproduction it is of no use. Freud declared ‘clitoral’ orgasm immature compared to ‘vaginal’ orgasm, proclaiming that women who couldn’t achieve orgasm through penetration needed therapy. The myth of ‘vaginal’ orgasm which in fact refers to the internal erectile structure of the clitoris, still persists in spite of the groundbreaking MRI studies of the clitoris, the results of which were published by Australian urologist Dr. Helen O’Connell in 2005. The amazing internal anatomy of the clitoris, which rivals the penis in size, is forcing a re-write of anatomy books and a re-think among medical professionals. To this day the clitoris which is the only organ in the human body whose sole function is pleasure is left out of medical books. Perhaps it is time that we all update our education with regard to the female anatomy of pleasure before labeling ourselves sexually dysfunctional.
Meanwhile a significant leap forward in sexual education, science, and equality has recently been made in France. In 2016 an independent female socio-medical researcher, Odille Fillod, programmed on a computer and then sculpted an actual size 3D model of a clitoris. http://carrefour-numerique cite-sciences. fr/fablab/wiki/doku.php?id =projets%3A clitoris#photos. According to The Guardian “The 3D printed clitoris will be used in sex education from primary levels onwards beginning in September”.
Let’s explore some of the factors which may impede a woman’ s capacity to fully experience desire, arousal, and climax before labeling ourselves sexually dysfunctional.
- Fact #1. It takes on average 45 minutes for a woman to become fully Although this fact remains rather obscure, women possess as much erectile tissue in their pelvis as do men. There are several bodies of erectile tissue including the clitoral bulbs (8 to 13 centimeters or 3 to 5 inches long), the urethral sponge (G Spot) and the perineal sponge all of which are also part of the clitoris. Stimulating these core erogenous areas will engorge the erectile tissues with blood, leading to very pleasurable sensations. With comfortable pressure and gentle massage with either fingers or a vibrator applied to the vulva, including the clitoris, labia and perineum (located between the anus and the entrance to the vagina) these underlying structures will respond very pleasurably! Please be patient, because often protection in the form of tensions surrounding these areas need to be released before pleasure can be fully experienced.
- Fact #2. It takes very little time for most men to reach full arousal. The sight of a sexy woman or simply a sexual fantasy may immediately result in a full erection. Unless a man has learned to relax into the build-up of arousal and to let go of goal-oriented performance, he will usually come quickly once he has entered his partner. And, unless he has learned to transmute his energy before ejaculation, which means allowing sufficient time for his sexual hormones to be released and distributed throughout his whole body, rejuvenating him, once he comes his energy is depleted.
- Fact #3. From initiation to completion, sexual interaction for the average heterosexual couple lasts from 10 to 20 minutes, only 3 minutes of which consists of intercourse.
Given the disparity between 45 minutes and 10 to 20 minutes, is it any surprise that such a high percentage of women never become fully aroused and never achieve orgasm during penetration? I think not!
Reducing the beauty, complexity and power of female sexuality by measuring it against existing male sexual performance ignores its extraordinary potential, reducing it to one of simple accommodation of the male desire. We women need to take the matter into our own hands, literally!
Are you personally invested in your own sexual satisfaction?
Many women mistakenly believe that since sexuality is natural total sexual satisfaction can be expected naturally, without any undue effort. That is simply not true. It takes a personal investment of time and exploration in order to discover what works for you in order that you may achieve total sexual satisfaction and have it continue throughout your life. Every woman is unique as are her sexual needs, desires and performance. Female sexuality is a vast and intensely personal playground, with every player having to make her own unique contributions if she wishes to ensure a successful outcome. When a woman honors her own uniqueness her orgasmic potential continues to expand and blossom as she pursues its exploration over her lifetime. Like any other artistic skill, sexual performance needs to be learned and developed gradually and sensitively over time, always respecting and honoring your own unique potential for pleasure.
Let’s have a look at some of the sanctified, normative sexual expectations which continue to perpetuate the myth of dysfunctional female sexual performance.
The myth is perpetuated when:
- A woman believes herself incapable of achieving orgasm based upon her average lovemaking session which lasts ten, or perhaps twenty minutes if she is fortunate.
- Anyone believes that a woman should be able to achieve a ‘vaginal’ orgasm within an average of three minutes of penetration, without previous lengthy manual or oral stimulation.
- A man or his intimate partner believes that he must retain a continuous erection throughout their entire lovemaking session.
- A man believes that his ejaculation and his orgasm are one and the same.
- Anyone believes that a man cannot achieve sexual satisfaction unless he ejaculates.
- Anyone believes that the frequency of sex is more important than the quality of intimate connection achieved through love making.
- A man or even a woman believes that following a man’s ejaculation it’s all over. Time to get going, to move on, to get up and get busy. Or, alternately to fall asleep.
- Anyone believes that intercourse is a necessary precondition for a completely fulfilling sexual experience.
Think about it. Clearly and dispassionately, free from any judgment from anyone else. Does it make any sense that female sexual satisfaction is necessarily defined by her male partner’s ability to ‘perform’ in other words to remain harder longer? Of course not! How and where do we begin to make the changes which are necessary to overcome the overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable cultural dictates which repress female sexuality by promoting this myth?
Breaking through these cultural barriers requires that we as individuals break our silence and speak out about our sexual needs, likes, dislikes and desires in order to begin to heal the wounds that have been created by simply living in a body-and-sex negative culture. Only then will we take our bodies back and re-write the script of our own female sexual satisfaction.
Sexual educator, Tantric yogini, international sacred sex and intimacy teacher, sexual healer and author Maryse Coté has helped individuals and couples reclaim their birthright to a joyful sexual life for the past 30 years. Maryse maintains a private practice in Tantra and sexual healing in Victoria, British Columbia. The release of her upcoming book, Be the Heroine of Your Own Myth; Living Sexuality from the Inside Out is expected in 2017.