43% Of American Women
And 31% Of The Men
Sexually Dysfunctional
By Martha Irvine
Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) - For millions of Americans, sex ain't so hot.
A comprehensive survey found that sexual dysfunction afflicts 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men, with problems including a lack of interest in sex and the inability to have an orgasm.
``I think it gives us a base for explaining why we had this enormous response to Viagra,'' said Edward Laumann, a University of Chicago sociologist and lead author of the study published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
As grim as the survey's findings are, the results could offer hope to millions, many of whom think they're the only ones having trouble in bed, said Laumann, who has been a paid consultant to the company that makes Viagra.
``Often they don't even admit it to their partners. It's the old `I've got a headache' instead of `I don't feel like having sex,''' he said.
Laumann and his co-author, Raymond Rosen, had been paid by Pfizer Inc. to review clinical trial data on Viagra before the impotency drug was submitted for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
That association was not mentioned by the journal, but Dr. Phil Fontanarosa, a JAMA editor, said today the omission was an oversight and would be noted in a subsequent issue. Laumann said he had told JAMA editors about the relationship before the study was published.
The researchers said problems with sex are often coupled with everything from emotional and health problems to lack of time, job pressures and money trouble. But they said they aren't sure which comes first Ø stress or problems with sex.
The researchers based the findings on the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, a compilation of interviews with 1,749 women and 1,410 men.
The participants, ages 18 to 59, were asked if they had experienced sexual dysfunction over several months in the previous year. Sexual dysfunction was defined as a regular lack of interest in or pain during sex or persistent problems achieving lubrication, an erection or orgasm.
Lack of interest was the most common problem for women, with about a third saying they regularly didn't want sex. Twenty-six percent said they regularly didn't have orgasms and 23 percent said sex wasn't pleasurable.
About a third of men said they had persistent problems with climaxing too early, while 14 percent said they had no interest in sex and 8 percent said they consistently derived no pleasure from sex.
Overall, 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men said they had one or more persistent problems with sex. Researchers had expected the overall numbers to be closer to maybe 20 percent for each sex.
Researchers said those in the survey who experienced sexual dysfunction often were more likely to be unhappy and more likely to describe their satisfaction with the partnership as unsatisfactory, Laumann said.
Dr. Domeena Renshaw, a Chicago-area sex therapist, said the results are not surprising, considering the long list of couples waiting to get into the sexual dysfunction clinic she has run at the Loyola University Medical Center since 1972.
In that time, she has treated nearly 140 couples who had never consummated their marriages, including a couple who had been wed for 23 years.
Rosen, co-director of the Center for Sexual and Marital Health at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., said the survey provides much-needed information about women, who have often been excluded from studies about sexual performance.
He said the findings are the most comprehensive on sex since Dr. Alfred Kinsey did his landmark studies in 1948. Kinsey got similar results regarding impotence and failure to achieve orgasm but didn't ask about lack of sexual desire.
Too often, Rosen said, Americans have gotten their information about sex from magazines bought at the grocery-store checkout.
``As a scientist, it makes my hair stand on end,'' Rosen said. ``It's terrible.''