Sex With a Diagnosis

Words by: Claudia Lim Zhi
Art by: Zico Mitchell

“I just had sex and it felt”… like shit — hearing Lonely Island and Akon yowling about how their experiences were revolutionary but you just can’t relate.

Our minds have been wired to expect sex to be played out just like it is on porn, with males parading around with their rock hard penises while females playfully spread their cleanly shaven, tight vulvas. But what happens when it’s getting hot in the room and you’re both ready for some action, yet your private parts aren’t
on the same page?

Sex is one thing that we love keeping private and don’t really talk about, but even more so with sexual dysfunction.

While much of this shame may have circled around toxic masculinity, and the impact on the way men view themselves, it may also have developed from the constant pressure around needing to give pleasure to your partner. The socialisation of males has become so tightly associated with sexual expression that many conflate the two — to be a man is to chase after sex, be domineering and to take control of the experience. If you fall short of that expectation, society tells you that you’re a loser.

Sexual dysfunction is a thing that is more prevalent than we think it is, and the truth is, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Unless you’re having Genghis Khan levels of sexual activity, sexual dysfunction will merely be a minor inconvenience and can be alleviated with medication, regular visits to the doctor and a strong support system.

While we should thank Bonnie and Clyde for confronting the stigma surrounding sexual dysfunction, few of us really know much about what sexual dysfunction is. A couple of weeks ago, I sent my request out into the universe in the form of a Facebook post, wondering if anyone was willing to share with me their experiences with sexual dysfunction and how it has affected them.The universe responded, and I received a private message from Simon and Tracy.

In many ways, Simon and Tracy were completely different — including the dynamics of their relationships
with their partners.

Simon suffered from premature ejaculation, a condition where ejaculation happens sooner than the man or his partner would like. Although this condition is not a big cause for concern, it can however affect the enjoyability of sexual intercourse, subsequently impacting relationships. Simon told me that his insecurities with his dysfunction initially caused some friction with his partner but changed for the better when they talked about the problem. Eventually, Simon went for sex therapy where he learnt different techniques for the prolonging of an erection. Simon’s sexual experiences with his partner have since improved.

Tracy on the other hand, was strongly impacted by her sexual dysfunction and battled with a lot of self-blame, until finally coming to terms that none of this was her fault. With a partner who was toxic in every way, Tracy’s insecurities were exacerbated as she felt like the faults and cracks in her relationship were a result of her dysfunction. Tracy suffered from vaginitis, a condition which affects women regardless of whether they have vaginal, oral or anal sex. Vaginitis is a form of vaginal inflammation, which typically causes itching, burning and possibly pain — especially so during sex.

Whilst many assume that all sexual dysfunction is a result of one being a ‘sex addict’ or ‘karma for being too horny’, sexual dysfunctions arise based on a variety of factors including bacterial imbalance, depression, anxiety and stress. Both Simon and Tracy’s experiences highlight the different ways that support from partners, friends and family can help. Although we can only hope that the stigma surrounding sexual dysfunction will improve in the near future, a good step towards breaking that down starts within ourselves.

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