MANY people suffer physically and emotionally from the dearth of honest, objective information about human sexuality. We are told: Sex is everywhere. Enjoy it. Yet the schools and the religious institutions provide little or no information about sexuality. This paradoxical situation contributes to a distortion in our sexual maturation and in our interpersonal relationships.

Fifty per cent of all marriages are “sexual disaster areas,” according to Masters and Johnson. Some sexual dysfunction has physical causes, but the majority is rooted in psychological and emotional factors. Our society teaches us to blame ourselves if we do not function properly. Often, the problem is situational and, with a little knowledge and insight into human sexuality, it will clear up.

For example, a small percentage of women who are nonorgasmic have a hooded or partially hooded clitoris that makes stimulation impossible or, at least, painful. If more of these women knew about their sex organs — looked at themselves and knew what was supposed to be there and how it all functioned — they could be helped with a simple operation.

We could all be helped if we understood how these marvelous bodies of ours function when we are aroused and making love. Many damaging myths could then be discarded.

But the majority of sexual problems originate from interpersonal causes. Many of us are unaware that all men suffer, at one time or another, from impotence. It can result from too much drinking, anxiety over life situation, fear of the woman, fear of failure in sexual performance, pressures from the job, anger or resentment towards the partner, lack of interest, and so on. Impotence can be called a communication problem — a lack of communication with the partner and a certain miscommunication with the self. Anger and fear over one failure can set the stage for a second failure and then the cycle really begins to be deadly.

Premature ejaculation is another problem men often experience. When a long time has passed since the last intercourse, a man will ejaculate more quickly than he normally does. When a man realizes a consistent dissatisfaction with the length of time, he is a premature ejaculator. Here, if he can be made to relax, to loosen up, escape from a performance mentality and reduce the pressure on himself, the problem often disappears. If not, then professionals can help with structured techniques and counseling.

Women often experience orgasmic dysfunction and painful intercourse, with a smaller percentage having vaginismus. Painful intercourse can result from infections, tears of uterine ligaments, irritation to the clitoris or inadequate lubrication. Orgasmic dysfunction is often due to the lack of a good environment for being physically intimate. Take time. So often it is too much, too fast. There is a demanding, anxious, trying-too-hard air to the whole love-making scene too often.

The penis is a foreign and strange object with a large body attached to it. There should be time for exploration and getting to know each others’s bodies. It helps if the man and the woman practice sensate focus, one partner receiving touches and one giving. No demands. Nothing to do but remain still and enjoy it. After several days of this form of give and take, the male should lie on his back and allow the woman to sit above him — “playing with the penis as if it were hers,” say Masters and Johnson. The whole idea is to allow discovery and comfort and to explore what feels good and right.

(Ed: Several days?)