“The secret is to accept the content of your sexual fantasies and understand it as just that — a fantasy.“
Most of us never stop to wonder about how we were sexually socialized. We all grew up with subtle messages about sex and sexuality that we take for granted.
Unfortunately, too many of us have internalized messages about sex and sexual fantasies being bad, dirty, shameful or naughty. Some think that enjoying sex and fantasies signals a failure of moral character. This is especially common for women after experiencing negative sexual events like rape, sexual abuse, assault, sexual harassment and painful sex.
There are two essential mechanisms that need to occur for sexual stimulation. Your parasympathetic nervous system needs to kicks in for you to become relaxed. But your sympathetic nervous system also needs to rev up for sexual stimulation. Millions of women actually have sexual fantasies about being placed in a coercive sexual situations. Yet none would enjoy that situation if it actually occurred because if “real” danger or threat occurs, those physical mechanics can’t happen and therefore enjoyment is a forgone conclusion.
Many people struggle with severe guilt about their sexual fantasies but the truth is, most of us have woefully little control over what turns us on.
The secret is to accept the content of your sexual fantasies and understand it as just that — a fantasy. Most fantasies were never meant to be played out or mean you are deprived in any way. Some even say your sexual fantasies are always politically incorrect.
Many couples experience this but find it hard to talk about. Often desire levels are unequal in otherwise healthy relationships. This is where sex therapy can help. A good place to start is to consult a Sex Therapist, who will ask questions to better understand why the problem persists. Questions such as: Do you still have sexual fantasies? Do you still (ever) masturbate? Do you experience arousal? Does the thought of having sex with your partner seem like a lot of work?
Most people don’t understand what is happening and such questions will help your Sex Therapist diagnose and treat a variety of concerns. Many individuals and couples experience a drop in or lack of desire. For women the condition is called “Female Desire Sexual Interest/Arousal disorder”. For men it’s called “Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.”
Because human sexual arousal is a complicated process that involves many different mechanisms it’s not always easy to pinpoint one culprit. Many times the “reason” is a combination of factors such as; hormonal imbalance, physiological issues such as endometriosis or scar tissue after giving birth, and foreskin that is too tight — only to name a few.
Our general health can also play a factor in our sexual response, such as blood pressure, hypothyroidism, diabetes and aging.
And don’t underestimate the psychological factors playing into the issue. Anxiety, for example impacts sexual desire greatly. When anxious, the body’s sympathetic nervous system kicks in. For sexual arousal, the body’s parasympathetic nervous system needs to be activated — those two systems are polar opposites. Depression can also dampen sexual desire as can elevated stress levels caused by lack of sleep or relationship issues.