Lust Problems

The number of sexually frustrated women maybe dramatically overestimated.

By Colin Allen, published January 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

The previously reported high rate of sexual dysfunction amongst women may have been greatly overestimated, researchers are now suggesting. A new study, released by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, counters a 1999 finding that 43 percent of women were distressed about their sexual lives. But according to these new findings, sexual dysfunction-such as lack of interest in sex or pain during intercourse-occurred in only a quarter of the women surveyed.

The discrepancy stems from researchers' differing definitions of sexual dysfunction. Previous studies placed more emphasis on the physical aspects of sex, such as arousal and ability to orgasm. The Kinsey Institute, on the other hand, put more weight on overall fulfillment, such as the subject's emotional well being and satisfaction in her relationship with her partner.

Still, for the 25 percent of women who do suffer from sexual dysfunction, lack of sexual desire is a multi-faceted problem. "Usually it is not just a physical thing," says Sandra Davis, Ph.D., an expert in sexual dysfunction based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. "There are a lot of psychological or emotional problems surrounding it. And if they are in a relationship, they have to figure out why there is a decrease [in desire]," she continues.

Research suggests that many distraught couples report being overstressed or too busy to find time for physical intimacy. Sexual dysfunction can also come from loss of physical attraction or even feelings of fear or anger that have built up in a relationship. Sadly, says Davis, "lack of sexual desire is not an easy problem."

This study will be released in the June issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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