Young peo­ple re­port prob­lems with sex lives

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

“We have this im­age that part­nered sex­ual life for young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly at the be­gin­ning, is fun, plea­sur­able and re­ally he­do­nis­tic. But what we found once we started track­ing them over time is that many young peo­ple have sex­ual prob­lems they are deal­ing with.” Lu­cia O’Sul­li­van

A Univer­sity of New Brunswick re­searcher says a new sur­vey dis­pels the myth that most young peo­ple are en­joy­ing fun, plea­sur­able sex lives.

Lu­cia O’Sul­li­van, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Fred­er­ic­ton univer­sity, said more than three-quar­ters of young men and women strug­gle with bad sex lives — with one or more “per­sis­tent and dis­tress­ing” prob­lems in sex­ual func­tion­ing.

“We have this im­age that part­nered sex­ual life for young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly at the be­gin­ning, is fun, plea­sur­able and re­ally he­do­nis­tic,” she said Wed­nes­day. “But what we found once we started track­ing them over time is that many young peo­ple have sex­ual prob­lems they are deal­ing with.”

The sur­vey of more than 400 young peo­ple aged 16 to 21 in New Brunswick found 79 per cent of young men and 84 per cent of young women re­ported sex­ual prob­lems over a two-year pe­riod. Com­mon prob­lems for men in­cluded low sex­ual sat­is­fac­tion, low de­sire and prob­lems in erec­tile func­tion, while women re­ported an in­abil­ity to reach or­gasm, low sat­is­fac­tion and pain.

“It’s scar­ily com­mon amongst young peo­ple to have re­ally bad, painful, un­wanted sex,” O’Sul­li­van said. “If they’re not en­joy­ing it ... they’re do­ing it be­cause they feel they should.”

Some of the prob­lems could be chalked up to a learn­ing curve, she said, es­pe­cially is­sues re­lated to con­trol­ling ejac­u­la­tion for men or learn­ing how to or­gasm for women.

But O’Sul­li­van, whose re­search focuses on sex­u­al­ity and in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships, said the high rates of dis­in­ter­est, low arousal and poor sat­is­fac­tion are a big­ger con­cern.

If sex­ual prob­lems go un­re­solved, she warned they could de­velop into a more se­ri­ous sex­ual dys­func­tion later in life, putting a strain on re­la­tion­ships.

O’Sul­li­van launched the sur­vey af­ter a doc­tor at the univer­sity health centre re­marked on the high num­ber of stu­dents with erec­tile is­sues, pain and — in par­tic­u­lar — vul­var fis­sures, or tear­ing.

Part of the issue lies with sex ed­u­ca­tion in Canada, O’Sul­li­van said.

“We have al­ways ed­u­cated young peo­ple about the prob­lems of sex. We think about it in terms of ‘Don’t have it and if you do have it, make sure you pre­vent this calamity,”’ she said. “We never say ‘By the way, this should be a fun part of your life.”’

De­spite im­prove­ments in sex­ual ed­u­ca­tion, O’Sul­li­van said Canada con­tin­ues to lag many western Euro­pean coun­tries in­clud­ing Denmark.

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