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New Zealanders’ sexual problems

2 March 2008

National research project on New Zealanders’ sexual problems

Lack of sexual desire, infrequent intercourse, relationship problems, sexual avoidance and anxiety about sex are the most common sexual problems experienced by New Zealanders. Massey University student Laura Buckley completed Honours in psychology with a study investigating the nature of sexual problems Kiwis seek help for.

Run in conjunction with Sex Therapy New Zealand (STNZ) this confidential study examined the data from consenting STNZ clients who used the service over a one year period (1st March 2006-1st March 2007). The main aims of this study were to identify the types of sexual concerns for which help was sought and to explore whether the ways in which sexual problems are diagnosed are appropriate.

The study found that those making referrals for sexual problems often focused on the symptom (eg lack of desire, early ejaculation etc). Traditional models of sex therapy have also been symptom oriented.

STNZ Director Robyn Salisbury says:

“We have to look beyond the symptom and find what the cause is in order to bring about lasting change. While New Zealanders have taken on board the medical language of contemporary sex therapy and are now talking more openly about sexual dysfunction, I believe it will always be our style to demand a down to earth, practical approach to sorting out the problem. What this research tells us is that is exactly what is needed. One man's erectile dysfunction may result simply from not enough direct stimulation; another's may indicate that one or both partners have not learned how to become more intimate after the initial lust period has burned itself out, a third may have a plumbing problem and require medication”

The study found lack of desire and infrequent intercourse were the two most common reasons New Zealanders sought sex therapy. When this was explored in therapy these sexual concerns were found to require an integrated treatment approach in order to deal with the underlying relationship and intimacy concerns.

This study identifies that both New Zealanders and professionals working in the sex therapy field need to always consider a broader relationship context when finding solutions to sexual concerns. The potential complexity of sexual problems suggests that specialist help is required to enable the appropriate solution to be found.


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