Range of Sex Problems Stuns Even Researchers
They find more people keep their sexual hang-ups secret
CHICAGO -- The lead researcher of a comprehensive sex study published today said the findings could offer hope to millions of sexually dysfunctional people, many of whom think they're the only ones having trouble in bed.
"Often they don't even admit it to their partners," said University of Chicago sociologist Edward Laumann.
"It's the old, 'I've got a headache' instead of 'I don't feel like having sex.' "
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shocked even those who did the research. They had expected to find much lower percentages for sexual dysfunctions -- perhaps 20 percent for each sex.
Instead, the figures were 40 percent for women and 30 percent for men.
Researchers based their findings on the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, a compilation of interviews with 1,749 women and 1,410 men aged 18 to 59.
But Dr. Domeena Renshaw, a Chicago-area sex therapist, said the results should not have surprised researchers, considering the long list of couples waiting to get into the sexual dysfunction clinic she has run at the Loyola University Medical Center since 1972.
In that time, she has treated nearly 140 couples who had never consummated their marriages, including a couple who had been wed for 23 years.
In the today's survey, researchers asked participants if they had experienced sexual dysfunction over several months in the previous year.
Sexual dysfunction was defined as a regular lack of interest in or pain during sex or persistent problems achieving lubrication, an erection or orgasm.
* Lack of interest in sex was the most common problem for women, with about a third saying they regularly didn't want sex. Twenty-six percent said they regularly didn't have orgasms and 23 percent said sex wasn't pleasurable.
* About a third of men said they had persistent problems with climaxing too early, while 14 percent said they had no interest in sex and 8 percent said they consistently derived no pleasure from sex.
* Overall, 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men said they had one or more persistent problems with sex.
Study co-author Raymond Rosen, co-director of the Center for Sexual and Marital Health at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., said the survey provides much-needed information about women, who have often been excluded from studies about sexual performance.
He said the findings are the most reliable since Dr. Alfred Kinsey did his landmark studies 50 years ago.
Too often, Rosen said, Americans have gotten their information about sex from magazines bought at the grocery-store checkout.
"As a scientist, it makes my hair stand on end," Rosen said. "It's terrible."
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