"Tell your doctor about your condition,” does not always solve the problem.
“The Sexual Tipping Point: A Framework to Achieve Sexual Balance" (this author's first blog) was well received by many, but “Cookie” posted a comment on that blog that indirectly raised an important question which I felt deserved an immediate response: Cookie stated, "Thanks, loads. Sex is always more fun when it comes with statistical analysis."
Cookie was right in her implication that "great sex" for many is often spontaneous, carefree and lacking in self-awareness. I wish those folks well and hope they continue enjoying a stress-free sexuality. However, while sex is perfectly natural, it is not always naturally perfect for over 40 million Americans who suffer from sexual concerns and disorders. Media advertising directs those people to “tell your doctor about your condition.” However, it is critical that the doctors consulted have a model for understanding and treating their patient's sexual issues, or even greater distress, loss of hope, and possible worsening of symptoms will ensue.
Regrettably, most physicians receive very limited sexual education as part of their training. Many would benefit from being reminded that the patients they see are experiencing "Mental" (thoughts and feelings) components to their disorder, whether directly causing the problem(s) and/or as a consequence of them. The sex problem is not only a "Physical" issue, regardless of the underlying disease, medication side-effects, etc. they might correctly identify and diagnose. Reciprocally, the non-physician therapists from whom such patients may also seek help, must remain aware that despite the many "Mental" dynamics that may be apparent when such a person first presents for assistance, there may well also be meaningful “Physical” components at the root of the sexual problem. Those bio-medical issues must be addressed (often first) regardless of the intensity of the painful emotions accompanying the distressing history described. Offering a framework for understanding and treating such problems that recognize both the "Mental And Physical” causes of a sexual disorder, that also incorporates cultural context for both the helper and those being helped remains the purpose of this blog. Restoring, or for some, first finding “Sexual Balance” is very often a significant challenge for those being helped, and for those healthcare professionals who are offering guidance and treatment to them.
Providing guidance for the helpers that simplifies understanding while still recognizing the complexity of overlapping "Mental And Physical" factors is part of the MAP Education and Research Foundation public charity's mission. There are many bio-psychosocial models that can be used to accomplish this. The Foundation is dedicated to widely disseminating such information using the Sexual Tipping Point model. Future posts will describe how a person who is suffering from sexual concerns and disorders can come to understand their situation better. The blog will describe various options for both self-help, the variety of different types of healthcare professional assistance available, and what you can do to improve the probability of a successful outcome.
Thanks to Cookie for her comment as it prompted me to write the above, which hopefully clarifies the initial purpose and goals for this Sexual Tipping Point blog and its first post: “The Sexual Tipping Point: A Framework to Achieve Sexual Balance."
Laumann, E. O., Paik, A., & Rosen, R. C. (1999). Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. Jama, 281(6), 537–544.
Why The Sexual Tipping Point is a Variable Switch Model. Current Sexual Health Reports, 10: 38. 2018
About the Author
Michael A. Perelman, Ph.D., Co-Director, Human Sexuality Program, & Emeritus Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Reproductive Medicine & Urology at Weill Cornell Medicine/New York. Chairman, mapedfund.org.