Monday, November 30, 2009

NY Times Magazine Examines Low Sexual Desire in Women

NY Times Magazine: Women Who Want to Want, by Daniel Bergner:

At her group therapy sessions for women despairing of low sexual desire, Lori Brotto likes to pass around a plastic tub of raisins. The women, usually six to a group, sit around two pushed-together beige tables in a fluorescently lighted conference room at the British Columbia Center for Sexual Medicine in Vancouver. A little potted tree is jammed randomly in one corner. Ragged holes scar one wall where a painting used to hang. The décor doesn’t speak of sensuality. That is the job of the raisin.

Brotto asks each woman to take a single raisin from the small tub. A slender, elegant 34-year-old psychologist, a mother of two with a third child on the way, she began her career studying the libidos of rats. She is now one of the world’s leading specialists in what is known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. She is in charge of defining the condition’s criteria for the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly called the D.S.M, which the American Psychiatric Association is preparing to publish in 2012 or 2013. The book is the bible of psychiatric diseases, from autism to sleepwalking, relied on by researchers and clinicians throughout the United States and Canada. Studies suggest that around 30 percent of young and middle-aged women go through extended periods of feeling dim desire — or of feeling no wish for sex whatsoever. . . .

Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink

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This article poignantly expresses both the deep distress felt by women with the loss of their libido as well as the complexity of understanding and treating the condition. Women’s loss of desire, while experienced sharply and distinctly, can be extraordinarily varied in both its primary cause, its contributing factors and in the range of treatment options.

Women’s sexual problems, of necessity, must be assessed by integrating the emotional, physical, chemical and psychosocial perspectives in order for us to be successful in treating them. Most often, as your article states, recommended treatment protocols are unilateral; the underlying assumption being that one “magic bullet,” should alleviate the problem. Often we find that this leaves women who have tried a single approach feeling as though they have failed; and more hopeless, resigned and unhappy.

Only with an integrated approach to diagnosing and treating women with female sexual dysfunction, more will have a better chance at achieving what they are looking for, a full and satisfying sex life. While critics may believe this is yet another “luxury” health problem, we’re certain none of them would want to settle for a tepid sex life. And if what we see in our practice is any indication, they’re in good company.

Posted by: Bat Sheva Marcus, LMSW, MPH, PhD | Dec 1, 2009 6:33:05 AM

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