Orgasms do not grow on trees, y'all

Are women experiencing horrible "sexual dysfunction"? Or is yet another pharmaceutical company just trying to earn its bones?

Published November 6, 2008 11:10AM (EST)

Last Friday, before the world changed, the Washington Post published a little story about women's "sexual problems" with the oh-so-lascivious lede: "In a double whammy for the female gender, new research shows that 40 percent of women report sexual problems, but only 12 percent are distressed about it."

Talk about a cock block! Nearly half of women in the survey have "sexual problems," and yet, only a smidge more than 10 percent care about it? What gives, ladies? Haven't read enough "Our Bodies, Ourselves" recently? Or perhaps something is else going on. Before we answer that question, let's look at the nitty-gritty of this study. Again, from the Washington Post article:

Overall, 43.1 percent of those surveyed reported some kind of sexual problem: 39 percent reported diminished desire, 26 percent reported problems with arousal, and 21 percent problems with achieving orgasm."

I didn't like the sound of that. So I did what any good Broadsheet editor in my situation would do: I tossed it to my colleagues. "Desire diminishes, and orgasms don't grow on trees," I wrote them, along with sending the link. "Thoughts?"

Lynn Harris: On the one hand, it's good when women's "problems," such as they are, are taken seriously. On the other, here are two articles of note: "The myth of sexual dysfunction and its medicalization" and  "Myth of female impotence 'created'."

Tracy Clark-Flory: The framing of this study is interesting. Why is it that these women have "problems with arousal" and not that they have inconsiderate or unskilled lovers? I'm not saying it's necessarily one cause or the other for all women, but, c'mon, it can't all be chalked up to female sexual dysfunction.

Kate Harding: This sounds like a much bigger version of the study I wrote about:  "Many women have a low sex drive. Or not."


So I really should find out who sponsored the study. Hmm, that's easy: "Boehringer Ingelheim International, maker of flibanserin, a drug for female sexual dysfunction."

An inability to achieve orgasm is, for sure, a concern. But I wouldn't suggest female viagra. I would suggest a $14 pocket rocket. That's just how I roll.

For shits and giggles, I asked a few guys at the bar last night what they would suggest.

"Women never tell me what they want in bed," said one.

"I never know if I'm bad," said another. "How am I supposed to know?"

Oh, boy. I could write a thesis on this. (And should!) In the meantime, ladies, stock up on sex toys and talk to your partner. Maybe, that way, satisfaction won't require a prescription from a doctor.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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