Sexual Dysfunction and Sexual Desire

Two Critical Components Behind If We May or May Not Be Sexually Happy

Sexual “desire,” from too much to too little,  is such a complex multifactorial development system and little has been published that provides conceptual base for its examination (Schwartz, 2009).


Hyposexuality implies that the sexual response is consistently inhibited and, most often, is accompanied by how initiatory behavior.


Conversely, hypersexuality is the result of a low threshold for sexual responsiveness often with obsessive-compulsive rituals of sexual expression that displace the passionate attachment with the partner. The rituals may also revolve around masturbation, paraphilia, or cybersex rather than partnered sex. These substitutes are frequently associated with excessive shame and an emphasis in the relief of anxiety or tension; they can become addictive-like, with a duality involving both over-control and out-of-control aspects that clinically seem to represent “two sides of the same coin,” each with two common underlying organizing feature of fears of intimacy.

Like addiction, the individual can experience tolerance and withdrawal as well as an indifference to the consequences in relation to the benefit. Additionally, the activity is used to alter mood, thereby becoming a form of emotional regulation.

Increased hormones as in dopamine, glutamate, and GABA levels oceractivate — the “go” switches, suggest a common biochemical thread (Inaba, et al., 2007). With sexual compulsivity, sex is the person’s most important all-consuming activity, characterized by excitement in anticipation of acting-out, followed by a rapid drop into shame, similar to that of a “crack” addiction.

Often, individuals are labeled or label themselves as hypo- or hyper-sexual and the pattern becomes a dispositional trait or personality characteristic engraved into their sense of self. Other characteristics may cluster around the central trait such as impulsivity, rule-breaking, sensation-seeking (hypersexuality) versus rigidity, over control, distancing from others, and withdrawal into self (hyposexuality).

How “Desire Differences” Can Show Up in Relationships

In relationships, the individual can be labeled as hyposexual, and the deprived other often appears to compulsively desire sex while escalating polarization occurs until the labels become entrenched and become antithetical extremes. One individual can become obsessed with wanting that which they can’t have, equating rejection of sex as “not caring about or loving the other” (Schwartz and Masters, 1975).

Sexual arousal and desire also define and are defined in the relational context. The experience of “falling in love” is often accomplished by hypersexuality, whereas, relational boredom, fatigue, or hostility results in hyposexuality in healthy individuals. Sexuality can mediate and modulate closeness and distance as the relationship progresses, and become a manifestation of fears of intimacy. An individual can initiate sex to avoid intimacy or to solicit greater closeness when perceiving distance.

Hyposexuality is most often used to describe individuals who do not have desire for sex with a person they care for. However, sexual desire can be secondary to vaginisums, rapid ejaculation impotence, anorgasma, or other dysfunctions. In such cases, treatment of the dysfunction usually reserves the desire-phase disorder.

1 Comment

  1. Debbie

    So what happens when one knows the reason their partner isn’t interested sexually, but cannot contain the emotional response to the lack of intimacy? And, do you accept BCBSM MPSERS plan? What are your hours and how do we determine if this is the right place to start?

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