The Psychology of Every Life: Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage - Sexuality

4 important questions on The Psychology of Every Life: Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage - Sexuality

How does anxiety interfere with sexual functioning?

There is clear indication that anxiety about sexual performance or experience can have an immediate and profound effect on sexual functioning. Many studies show that a woman's sexual excitement and pleasure is tied to feelings of relaxation. Fear of vaginal dryness, pain, or lack of response can immediately dampen a woman's sexual arousal.

Likewise in men, fear of erectile dysfunction can create a vicious circle, in which anxiety about impotence can cause men to lose their erection, which in turn reinforces their anxiety.

What roles do hormones play in sexual response?

There is considerable evidence that the male hormone, testosterone, plays an important role in sexual arousal. It seems to be more important in the sexual functioning of men than women, however.

In women, the hormone estrogen affects sexual function, promoting vaginal lubrication and elasticity. After menopause, estrogen levels drop off dramatically in women, causing vaginal dryness and sometimes pain during intercourse. Hormone replacement therap, which increases the level of estrocan, can moderate these negative effects although there are safety problems associated with long-term use.

How important is sexual communication?

Most sex therapists place considerable importance on sexual communication, which can be surpringly poor in many couples. Many people assume that sexual needs and preferences should not have to be explicitly stated and thus shy away fom direct communication.

Some women are embarrassed to directly state their desires, fearing they would appear unseemly or critical of their partner. Likewise, many men feel pressure to know how to please a woman without necessarily being told. Enhancing sexual communication between partners can be a quick and easy way to improve the quality of a couple's sexual life.
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Is there an evolutionary function to controlling women's sexuality?

The remarkable pervasiveness of attempts to control female sexuality suggests it serves an evolutionary function, possibly the protection of paternity. While a mother can be very confident that her children are her own, men can never be 100 percent positive of their children's paternity. Controlling his partner's sexual freedom enhances a father's confidence (and that of his relatives) in the paternity of the children he is raising. Similar behavior is found in the mate-guarding of prairie voles and other animal species.

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