Female Sexuality–Do we have a problem?

I would like to open this forum to questions/comments about sexual function and how doctors, society, etc may or may not be appropriately pathologizing female sexual function, sexual desire, or sexuality in general. It is my opinion that “Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder” does not exist. Our culture sends us so many messages about how everyone everywhere wants sex all the time and if you don’t want sex all the time there is something wrong with you. This is not the case and different people have different levels of sexual desire, and there is a wide variety of “normal.” What do you think?*

Framing Disease: The example of female hypoactive sexual desire disorder”┬áby A. Jutel

*As always, please be respectful and withhold vulgar language or I will be unable to post your comment/question. Thank you.

2 Comments on "Female Sexuality–Do we have a problem?"

  1. Lorna says:

    I find it unfortunate that medicine — and specifically the pharmaceutical field — has propagated an unrealistic ideal of female libido. After all, if women can be convinced that their relatively lower sex drive is unnatural, we are more likely to spend money in an effort to correct it. (I have often wondered what percentage of men actually worried about naturally waning male sex drive prior to the advent of Viagra.) I think media promotes this unrealistic ideal to both genders, such that boyfriends and husbands get the idea that, if their partner is not “switched on” all the time, she is an aberration and should seek remedy. I suspect that if women were free to more openly discuss sexuality, there wouldn’t be such a misconception of what’s normal.

    Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a society where the majority of women really *were* “switched on” all the time, the way popular media seems to make us think we should be? Certainly, there would be a subset of men who would be happier with their more sexually interested partners, but consider the more general patriarchal backlash. One of the more common sentiments expressed by those opposed to abortion seems to be, “She made the choice to be sexually active and should have to deal with the consequences.” Consequences which are disproportionately applied to women, to such a degree that women are vilified and shamed for doing — or wanting to do — what is considered healthy and natural for their male counterparts. Women seem to face diametrically opposed pressure to be both the gatekeepers of sex and sex kittens, and I have no doubt that this conflict contributes to unhealthy sexual ideas and can limit the joy that many women, married and unmarried, derive from otherwise fulfilling relationships.

    Which isn’t to say that I don’t think “Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder” isn’t a real thing; hormonal birth control simultaneously makes it more likely that a woman will be willing to have sex while sabotaging her desire to do so. I know that for me personally, the 6 months after the birth of my first child was the most libidinous period of time I experienced since first going on birth control in college. But until my husband is willing to consider a vasectomy, I feel more or less “stuck” with a considerably lessened libido.

  2. I agree with you Dr. Torres. Our society has done a number on women–we’re encouraged to not want sex, are often ill-informed and then when we show up with issues or seem disconnected from sex we are labeled as dysfunctional. Women who own their sexuality, who take the time to inform themselves and have a healthy sex life and expression are gaining in numbers but we are often judged for that. To be bold about enjoying sex is to risk being labeled ‘slut’.
    Education and more informed conversations about women and our sexual health will help women learn to embrace their sexuality. And, help us understand sex in the cycles of aging and the bodily changes we experience. I am 59 and hear many women say that sex ends at a certain age or as a result of menopause and that’s not true. Again, another issue of perception and societal labels.
    The fact that you’re willing to tackle this topic is fabulous. Thank you.