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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sex Ed: Carnal Cravings

By Jim Larkins

For those of us whose fondness of the flesh never seems to cease, it is hard to imagine there are those who are far less libidinous. But the fact is, when it comes to sexual appetite, we are not all created equal.

It is interesting that there are stigmas attached to those at either end of the libidinous scale. Take a sexual hiatus and you’re likely to be labeled frigid. On the other hand, if you exhibit a ravenous zeal for sex, you’re oversexed or addicted to sex.

If your sexual forecast does call for a cold front, you could be experiencing hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Also referred to as sexual aversion disorder, HSDD is associated with a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity. But the syndrome is only considered a disorder if it causes interruptions in one's daily life routine because of distress or interpersonal difficulties. As a disorder, it must also not be triggered by drugs or other medical conditions.

On the other hand, those who can’t seem to focus their energies beyond the bedroom are sometimes diagnosed as having hypersexuality or sexual addiction.

Because we are all sexual animals with varying degrees of desire, determining if one has hypersexuality is largely up to interpretation. Technically, sexual addiction is associated with sexual behaviors, urges or thoughts that are overly frequent or out of the individual’s control. But there are differences of opinion between psychologists, sociologists, sexologists and other specialists as to whether hypersexuality is an actual addiction or even a psychiatric condition at all.

Those who do favor the sexual addiction theory see it as a phenomenon similar to substance addiction or behavioral problems such as a gambling addiction. The recommended treatment therefore is often 12-step and other methods of treatment that are used for addiction.

The term 'sex addiction' was first coined in the mid-1970s by members of Alcoholics Anonymous who sought to define the disorder within the parameters of alcoholism. They attempted to apply the 12-steps method toward recovery from unmanageable sexual behaviors like serial infidelity.

But for many people the spark of sexual thoughts and actions is simply a matter of varying drive. Just as we carry dissimilar urges toward certain foods, activities or interests, there are disproportionate sectors of the population that have no interest (or an extreme interest) in whetting their carnal appetite. 

Neither extreme actually presents a problem unless there is an incompatible level of sexual desire within a relationship or the urges result in breaking the laws of the land. As for relationships, the differences of sexual needs can often be hashed out with understanding and open dialogue. Of course, this if often easier between long-time lovers as there is an intimacy established that goes way beyond the bedroom.

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