Problems In The Bedroom: Sexual Arousal Disorder

Posted by Frank Gillespie MA

Experts divide sexual dysfunctions into four groups: sexual desire disorder, sexual arousal disorder, orgasmic disorder, and sexual pain disorders. The second part of the four-part series deals with sexual arousal disorders.

Sexual excitement occurs on several levels. In men, a clear sign of excitement is the erection of the penis, while the elevation of the testicles is less visible. In women, signs of excitement include swelling of the external genitalia and breasts, the vagina gets wet, and the erection of the clitoris. The heart rate accelerates, the face gets red, blood pressure increases and the sweat gland function increases. The focus gets narrowed and emotional reactions amplify. Sometimes these arousal reactions do not manifest even if the sexual attraction and desire is given between the couple.

Sexual arousal disorder in men

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is relatively common, 6% of the male population in average is affected by ED in the world. In means the man is unable to have a permanent erection or maintain it during sex. There are several possible physical causes of erectile dysfunction such as dysfunction of blood supply to the penis, neurological causes or adverse drug reactions.

One of the most common psychological causes of ED is anxiety. Worry, fear of failure, the pressure to perform, the desire to meet the expectations all inhibit erection which requires calmness and confidence. Work stress is a typical erection killer, but also the fear of intimacy can lower men`s desire.

Sexual arousal disorder in women

Disorders of sexual arousal in women manifest in the lack of genital engorgement and lack of vaginal moisture. Just like in case of men, physical causes might be in the background, such as vascular disorder, hormonal changes or drug side effects. However in case of women emotional factors are particularly important. One of the most common causes is fear which might come from previous bad memories such as abuse or sexual assault. Common belief that a `decent` woman should not desire nor enjoy sex. Some people think that after a certain age having sex is inappropriate so when they become excited they feel guilty. It is also possible that the two parties have very different sexual appetite. For example if one desires more sex and forces it, the other party will feel like lovemaking is just an obligate task which only aims to satisfy the partner. If this is the usual way, the other party will not get excited about the possibility of lovemaking. It also may be the problem that the two parties have very different sexual `scenarios`: if they have fundamentally different imaginations about the ideal sexual act, they`ll be mutually disappointed and their bodies will reject sex with the lack of excitement.

Help is available

Sex therapist (usually a psychologist or psychotherapist) is a person who can help you solve these problems using the methods of psychotherapy, couples therapy and sex therapy. The assistance is based on discussions, homework, and sometimes demonstrations with certain aids. During the therapy it is very important to develop the appropriate sexual communication. The parties should be able to talk about their feelings, thoughts, desires, and should be able to take their partners wishes into account too. If missing, they should work on the development of sexual self-confidence too. Medical treatment is also common in case of certain sexual problems.

False sexual beliefs

It is worth to visit a therapist for those with (even mild) sexual problems and for those who strongly believe in one or more of the following ideas:

  • 1. Women should never initiate sex
  • 2. Showing sexual pleasure is despicable and shameful
  • 3. My partner should figure out what is good for me and shouldn’t ask because it`s uncomfortable to talk about it
  • 4. The man should always be ready to have sex (have erection)…
  • 5. … every day, even several times a day
  • 6. … all night even
  • 7. Vaginal orgasm is better than clitoral orgasm
  • 8. If someone cannot achieve vaginal orgasm `naturally`, they have major problems. (I don’t want it to turn out, so I`d rather fake the orgasm)
  • 9. Sex is good only if…
  • 10. …If the couple have orgasm at the same time
  • 11. …if they equally want it from the very first moment
  • 12. …if it lasts at least 10-20-30-50 minutes
  • 13. …if I do it in my favorite position
  • 14. …everything goes exactly the same way as usual
  • 15. The couple`s sexual satisfaction is the responsibility of only one party (usually the man)
  • 16. Even the slightest physical contact (touch, kiss, caress) has to end up in sex
  • 17. If I think about another person during sex it means I`m unhappy
  • 18. Sex equals intercourse
  • 19. Masturbation is harmful
  • 20. … generally
  • 21. … if we do it too often
  • 22. … if we have a partner and do it anyway
  • 23. The end of a sexual act has to be orgasm by all means
  • 24. If I once failed as a man, it will surely happen again
  • 25. The man shouldn’t show any sign of gentleness (only with moderation) because it`s not manly.

Frank Gillespie MA

Frank Gillespie has a Master's Degree in Counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He is a nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided therapy for over 23 years. During his career, he has helped more than 10,000 people move past their obstacles towards reaching their potential and fulfillment in their lives. He practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a warm and nurturing approach. In addition to being a therapist, Frank has been an adjunct college professor teaching social work, a clinical consultant, a clinical director, and a seminar speaker. Frank has recently retired from his full time practice to focus on a part time online practice. He is married. He enjoys listening to music, watching sports, power walking, swimming, reading and writing.


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