Forget the penis for a moment, and the vagina and clitoris, too. Even when
the genitals are working the way they're supposed to, with or without medical
help, sexual satisfaction can still be difficult to achieve.
Sexual dysfunction often takes center stage when we talk about sexual
problems, but it isn't the only cause of sexual frustration. Sometimes nothing
in the medicine cabinet can help couples sort out their sexual differences.
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Ask several different people what makes for good sex, and you're likely to
get as many different answers. To one, it may be a specific sex act or
situation, while another may answer, "Being with my true love," and yet
another may never have given the question much thought.
"Sexuality is so self-defined," says sex educator Violet Blue, who
lectures at San Francisco State University and the University of California at
Berkeley, and whose many books include The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio and
Sweet Life: Erotic Fantasies for Couples.
"Each person's sexuality is as individual to them as a fingerprint,"
Blue tells WebMD.
What causes sexual frustration?
You're always eager to get it on, and time between sexual encounters seems
like an endless stretch of desert between one oasis and the next. Or maybe you
think you're having plenty of sex, and you can't fathom why she broods over not
"It's normal to have one partner want sex more than the other,"
Patricia Love, a marriage and family therapist and author of Hot
Monogamy, tells WebMD. "I think this is the most common frustration
that men and women have."
And it isn't only an issue between men and women. "These kinds of things
show up in same-sex relationships just as much," says sex therapist Louanne
Cole Weston, PhD.
We usually assume men have bigger sexual appetites than women, a stereotype
that holds true in many cases, but by no means all. Weston says a considerable
number of women want sex more often than their male partners do. "It's more
of a closeted problem," she tells WebMD, because of embarrassment on both
sides. Not only do these women get frustrated because they're not getting what
they want, "they take it as a negative comment on their own
attractiveness," she says.
There's a fair amount of negative speculation regarding men with lower sex
drives, too. If he lacks interest, Weston, says, she may wonder if he's
secretly gay or has another lover on the side.
New thinking about the female libido may explain why women seem to want sex
less frequently than men do. In a 2001 article in the Journal of Sex and
Marital Therapy, researcher Rosemary Basson, MD, of the University of
British Columbia, proposed that many women need to become physically aroused
before their desire for sex kicks in. Couples may run into trouble when women
don't understand this about themselves.