To tell or not to tell: Disclosing sexual problems to a partner

Read Huffingtonpost original article here

Sexual self-disclosure allows partners to better understand each other’s sexual needs and preferences.

The number remains consistent : 43% of women currently experience one sexual problem and 12% report significant distress about their sexual problems.  By sexual problems I refer to women with low sexual interest/desire and  arousal , as well as women who are not orgasmic and those who experience sexual pain . This means that about  half of you are lying in bed with  a woman who is struggling with sexuality.

Question: do you even know that your female partner, beloved or casual, has a sexual problem?

Question : what are your reasons for disclosing /not disclosing your sexual problem to your partner/s?

Question : what have been the consequences of you disclosing /not disclosing  a sexual problem to a partner?

A study examined the proportion of women (N= 227) who disclose verse those who do not disclose sexual problems to their partner and the consequences of disclosure . 69% reported disclosing sexual problems to their current partner . The women who did disclose reported fewer depressive symptoms, greater sexual functioning, and relationship satisfaction than non disclosures.  Lets unpack this.

It is known that greater sexual communication leads to enhanced sexual and relationship well being . Sharing your sexual turn ons, fantasies, favourite positions and fetishes is almost necessary for sexual functioning.  Sexual self disclosure  allows partners to better understand each other’s sexual needs and preferences. Which leads to greater sexual satisfaction . It also enhances feelings of intimacy which increases sexual satisfaction .  Easier said than done, right ?! Both you and I know this is never easy. It requires you first of all knowing and acknowledging  your own sexuality arousal cues. That means time alone masturbating , viewing porn, experimenting alone or with a partner or multiple partners (Safely please)
The next daunting step is sharing this news with a partner/s. Daily I am reminded how women specifically struggle to ask a partner for what they really want. These are women who present with pre -orgasmia, and complain  of sexual boredom, as they wonder what this sex thing is all about. Cyber and In Real Life Infidelity offer way more satisfaction than in house sexing.
Understandably  self disclosing  a sexual problem is a different kettle of fish. Women with sexual problems report feeling isolated, guilt, shame, inadequacy as a romantic and sexual partner. Who among us wish to expose  such vulnerability even to an intimate partner? The unfortunate alternative for many women is to shut down sexually and claim a  headache.
You may be wondering right now whether or not you should be disclosing  a sexual problem to your partner/s. Perhaps it depends on your particular kind of sexual problem. Even though only 33% of women with sexual pain let their partner’s know, somehow this may be a more acceptable sexual problem to disclose than pre orgasmia. Sexual pain is part of a  female pain syndrome thus can be medicalised and treated without the male  partner taking it too personally. Pre orgasmia may make a partner feel inadequate,  a bad lover, or make you feel like a complete failure as a woman — or as  a  sexual communicator.
Consider this : holding  a secret causes increased anxiety . Increased anxiety exacerbates a sexual problem such as sexual pain . Also hiding negative personal information  from a partner brings lower relationship satisfaction. This predisposes  you to more depressive feelings.  However not feeling safe emotionally or physically in relationship will not incline a woman to disclose a sexual problem to her partner. She may tentatively disclose, wait for his/her response and then decide whether or not to remain silent in her pain and shame. The more positive  his/her response, the more her sexual satisfaction will be as well as her relationship satisfaction.
 
POSITIVE REASONS TO DISCLOSE SEXUAL PROBLEMS TO A PARTNER :
 *  Significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms
* Enhance feelings of partner support
* Less negative thoughts about your sexuality
* Provides opportunity for partner to offer support and empathy
*  Allows couple to adapt their sexual functioning to accommodate the sexual problem
*  May encourage help seeking for sexual problems , either as an individual or as a couple
* Increases feelings of intimacy for both partners
* Allows both people to respond to the problem as a unit
I think these are good enough reasons to disclose your sexual problems to a partner/s.
If you need professional assistance, call me.