Family Doctors Enrolments

Let’s talk about sex

“SEX! – the next meeting of the chess club is on Tuesday at 1pm.”

This eye-catching sign used to appear on the Med School notice board from time to time. As far as I know, everybody who walked past got the message. It worked very well, just because of the impact of a simple three-letter word.  And, if you want to sell something, it still works well.

I see sex as a human taonga, a treasure and a gift to mankind. It’s biological and spiritual, a magical combination of reproductive necessity and relational transcendence.  Because of this high view its commercialisation disturbs me.

Sex is not a spectator sport.  But sadly now most people get their sex education from the visual media.  Alarmingly, young people have access to a  distorted portrayal of sex, and the drug of pornography is becoming more and more potent. Many people of otherwise high ideals are now completely addicted.  And it is not just a solitary thing – inevitably it spills over into expectations and demands on partners as well.

So in a time when there is more sexual information than ever, I am seeing more dysfunction.  More people lost in their identity, more young people especially, feeling devalued and inadequate, more out and out sexual bullying and cruelty.  While the advertisers are picking up the profits, I’m picking up the pieces.

The only good thing is that the topic is no longer taboo.  We’ve come a long way since my senior partner used to refer to sex as “certain nocturnal activities.”  Most patients these days are comfortable to raise the issue and to ask for help.  And I can tell you that for a lot of people, sex is pretty average.  Frequently it doesn’t meet their expectations of Olympic performance and earth-moving intensity.  It’s a part of a relationship which works sometimes but it is not the be-all and end-all.  And for some groups they are lucky if it happens at all.  Ask any mother of a night-waking baby how enthusiastic she feels.  But loving and committed partners can cope with difficulties in this area, as long as they can talk about it and not get romantically lazy.

Clinically there is a great need for competent sex therapists.  In the face of this tidal wave of deception there are not enough professionals who can push back with good information and skilled counselling.  We do what we can in general practice but a big issue like this needs a community-wide response.  I’d be keen to know what you thing about this – email: peter@familydoctors.nz