I see women and men who come in to my practice every day because their doctor told them it’s all in their head or their partner gave them an ultimatum.
Their stories of onset vary from childhood, sexual abuse or situational. They all have different stories but one question
Am I normal??
For so long people who suffer with sexual disorders or functions suffer in silence due to judgement and embarrassment. When they finally get up the courage to see a physician, some go through further embarrassment with exams and questioning. By the time some of my clients get to me they just want validation to prove that they are not crazy and it’s not all in their head.
So what is normal sexual functioning?
Sexual functioning involves the mind and the body. I know biology yuck, but knowledge is power. Yes, sexual function involves both the mind and the body. The nervous, circulatory and hormonal systems all work together to help us with sexual response. So just think behind that look or touch you have a whole system preparing you for sex.
Our sexual function response system are not only are genitals. Our sexual response system has four stages:
- Desire – the wish to have sexual activity. This is triggered by those thoughts you get in your head, verbal by whispers or erotic talk and visual by looking at something you find attractive. This is also the phase that some say they lack. Nothing seems desirable to them they report. With Education and Exploration desire can be found again!
- Arousal – this is when your body gets excited. The blood starts flowing to your genitals causing erection for men and enlargement of the clitoris for women. This phase sometimes has impairments due to poor health and diet causing inflammation in the body. Some surgeries and medicines also can interfere with this stage. This stage changes with age. What excited you in your 20s may not do it for you in your 30s or even 40s. Everything changes, even what gets you excited. Many seek therapy to find their arousal but together we figure out its not gone it’s just in a different form of touch or thought.
- The Big “O” orgasm- is the peak of climax of sexual excitement. Both men and women experience muscle tension and contractions of the pelvic muscle. By the sounds of it you would think it was painful, but many find it pleasurable. Orgasms are a myth to some and abundance to others. All sexual excitement doesn’t have to end orgasm. Many have good sex lives without ever experiencing orgasms. A Few people can experience pain during this phase and avoid it. Even a smaller few can think their way to orgasm.Women come into therapy ready to experience orgasm after trauma, lack of education and self-neglect. Men can seek therapy to assist in transition with aging, meds or after surgery.
- Resolution – when I hear this I think of the answer to a problem but in fact it is the feeling you feel following orgasm. Your muscles start to relax, you regain all you senses and just a sense of wellbeing. The goal of many after sexual excitement. Some may drift to sleep while other curl up and don’t want to be touch, it can vary with each person. Men may need some time in between this phase and erection again, while women are able to respond right away with additional stimuli to reach orgasm again.
Sex therapy works well dealing with Sexual Functioning as it relates to possible Psychological Stressors:
- Performance Anxiety
- Religious Beliefs
- Sexual Trauma
- Lack of sex education
Once it is ruled out that there isn’t any medical factors causing your sexual function or if it is- how to work with dealing with the disorder. Sex Therapy has its benefits.
I love when clients breathe a sigh of relief to find out they are in fact normal and very unique!
*The Merck manual of medical information 2012