Hypoactive Sexual Desire - Gender Issues

Despite marked inconsistencies in the research, clinical as well as social observation suggests that there are differences in the felt experience of sexual desire between men and women. On the whole, it does appear that men have a more insistent, energized, and constant sexual appetite, and that access to awareness of this is facilitated for them through a wide range of environmental cues. Women, meanwhile, tend to express more sporadic sexual desires that are more heavily dependent on situational context. The progression from desire to the enactment of sexual behaviors seems to occur over a longer time span for women, thus creating more potential for disruption and distraction.

Many factors underpin these apparently significant behavioral differences. Women are socialized to be fearful of the negative consequences of unrestrained sexual expression and, if they adopt a conformist gender role, will tend to be uncomfortable about displaying sexual curiosity and interest. Men have clearly visible evidence of arousal in the erect penis, whereas women anatomically have less visual evidence of arousal. Often, women have had very little positive encouragement to interpret the range of signs and signals of arousal or may have been trained to repress, distrust, and dislike these physiological indicators. Moreover, the polarity that states and reinforces the view that men “get” and women “give” sex frames the experience of sexual interaction in such a way as to render sexual approaches to women from men “demanding,” and pressures may add to existing multiple demands drawing on low resources. Hence, socialization and sexual script imperatives, rather than constitutional or biological variables, may offer more to the understanding of observed differences in sexual interest levels between the genders.

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Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.