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The Complexity of Male Sexual Desire?

The Complexity of Male Sexual Desire?

Much debate and controversy has ensued regarding the contentious and subjective definition, diagnosis, measurement and treatment of desire problems for both men and women as various editions of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) have been published (DSM V edition). Despite the recent changes for women, the fact that the criteria for men remains the same, reflects a huge paucity in understanding how male sexual desire varies; how ‘lower’ desire manifests, how it is diagnosed and subsequently managed (Bitzer, Giraldi, Pfauss 2013).

Much uncertainty still prevails because of the lack of significant field studies (Carvalheira 2014), and the presence or lack of distress remains questionable. Moreover, the focus has predominantly been on female sexual desire, not in men (Brottio 2009). The aim of the initial quantitative research was to explore how the level of sexual desire varies in men, what factors influence their sexual desire and their help seeking behaviour over the past 6 months.

Methods: The initial study was based on quantitative research. The study questionnaire was developed incorporating other validated questionnaires used in women with proven reliability. The questionnaire comprised of 21 questions and was implemented online within Australia. It targeted a convenience sample of 300 heterosexual men over the age of 18, in the same relationship for at least 12 months.

Results: The average age of the study participants (N=300) is 52 and average relationship duration 18 years. The results are congruent with other findings (Brottio 2010 and Rubio-Aurioles, and Bivalacqua, 2013) which highlight the range in male sexual desire. The findings identify stress or fatigue as significant factors inhibiting desire that have not been previously identified in the literature; and also highlight other variables such as medications, conflict and dissatisfaction that affect male sexual desire. Finally the results confirmed that there is concern present, despite complacency and tendency to ignore the issue. Importantly the initial quantitative analysis highlights a number of issues that warrant further investigation. Indeed the results confirmed that there is an intricate and complex interplay of multiple biopsychosocial variables that can inhibit or augment desire which are also subject to contextual factors, yet there were a number of limitations. The quantitative research did not allow for elaboration in the response, and consequently lacked insight and detail. Qualitative research data collation is nearly complete: 33 qualitative interviews have been conducted and key thematic findings are discussed.

Conclusions: Qualitative research findings will provide understanding on how men define, perceive and interpret desire. The objective is to generate an in-depth, more detailed insight regarding their perception of desire and what constitutes male sexual desire. It is also critical to identify the barriers that men experience so that individuals and couples can seek appropriate assistance. Women have also participated to ascertain how men experience and respond to sexual desire through their lens.

Speakers: Elaine George

Society of Australian Sexology 2014

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