Aphrodisiacs for Women
Men don't need any more lessons in how to be sexual athletes. They need to learn how to be more loving.
This is just one of the many messages coming out of a global sex survey released on Tuesday. It would go a long way towards alleviating the many problems women are experiencing with sex, says Johannesburg psychiatrist and sexologist Dr Bernard Levinson.
It proves that being loving is the best precursor to successful lovemaking because true intimacy is the most powerful female aphrodisiac of all, he says.
Levinson was the only South African on a panel of 12 international medical specialists involved in a survey of 27 000 urban respondents in 29 countries to assess the attitudes and beliefs of men and women, aged between 40 and 80, on sexual health.
The survey, sponsored by Pfizer, also aimed to assess the role and importance of sex and intimacy on individuals and their relationships, as well as what men and women do about seeking help when they experience sexual problems. Levinson says the survey results will reassure the many in this country who have sexual difficulties that they are not alone. Globally, the survey shows that sex problems are extremely common, with only a slightly higher incidence here than other parts of the world. That isn't at all surprising, says Levinson, as stress is one of the most effective passion-killers.
In this country, the survey also points to the negative, draining effects on love lives of the "massive cultural shift" we have come through over the past 10 years, he says. Its impact is showing up particularly heavily on women. We have a "beautiful constitution" that empowers women, Levinson says. For the first time, large numbers of women are "plunging into a wonderful world of work" and earning well. They are also paying a heavy price as cultural and traditional support systems have changed or broken down completely in some instances.
It isn't surprising that women have a lower sex drive, Levinson says. They are saying: "I have a family, a husband but I also have a job, and sex is lower on my list of priorities as I have to survive." But he says it is heartening to see that South Africans are no different from people in other parts of the world, from Catholic to Muslim countries, when it comes to believing in the power and appropriateness of having a good and fulfilling love life.
The survey shows that South Africans turn to the media rather than their doctors for help. Among the reasons, they say they feel embarrassed to raise the subject or because the doctor seems too busy or is just not interested.
Interestingly, more men than women say they wish their doctors would broach the subject first by asking them about their sex lives. Levinson thinks that is foolish as women are "far more complex than men" in their sexual response. "We need to teach men how to love, not how to make make love. It's about intimacy and it would help an enormous amount of women," he says.
In a conservative society such as ours, people need to know they have a right to a healthy sex life, he says. "It is part of normal functioning and health, and it is perfectly okay to seek help for problems."