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Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Women and marital relations...

I'm not sure why this is, but it seems to be a universal "truth" that once you get married, activity in the bedroom decreases. At least that is the subject of many jokes.

I've always found this to be sad when I've read about it. I believe that God has given a special gift to married couples to draw them closer together. When that gift is not enjoyed, I believe it can make for a less than satisfactory relationship. Research continues to bear out that people who are active in a monogomos relationship, they enjoy better health and longer lives.
This is perhaps somewhat niave of me...but when I was in my 20's, I'd always thought that the "not enjoying sex thing" was a "problem" of the older generation. "Surely younger women are more enlightened" went my reasoning. "They know it is okay and good to enjoy sex, so they allow themselves to do so." So when a friend who is about 10 years older than me started making pretty mild statements after I got engaged indicating that she had a lower drive than her husband and that I would encounter the same thing once I got married, I brushed them aside in my mind. "Surely she actually enjoys sex, she just doesn't want it as often as her husband."

I have to admit that I was completely floored when I first encountered women my own age who were quite unabashed about expressing their frustration at their husband's attempts at "getting things started." And especially when I heard comments like "I could never have sex again and die happy." Wow. Amazing. This thing that God created to be a unique bond between a husband and wife, something that really is intended to cement us together not just physically, but also emotionally, and here are Christian women saying they could quite happily do without.

So I decided to blog. ;-)

And that's where I got the BIGGEST surprise. I was surfing around trying to find links to support the idea that a healthy sex life improves your physical and emotional health (a concept that I know I've read about before), and indeed, I did find that, and mentioned it above. But the shock was on a website devoted to promoting the book Sex as Nature Intended It, I found more information than I expected. Some of course was right in line with what I thought, like a survey conducted by the book's author was reported to have found that:
In general, if a woman had wonderful lovemaking experiences with a man, she tended to speak glowingly of him and the relationship. On the other hand, if the sexual relationship was unsatisfactory, unfulfilling, and frustrating, she tended to be critical of the man and attributed their unhappy relationship to his faults. But perhaps, in many cases, it is actually the other way around. Perhaps the dissatisfying, displeasurable sex caused her to be much less tolerant of the man’s faults and nitpick him for things she might otherwise overlook if he were pleasing her in bed.
But as I said, I got a bit more than what I intended on--what I found was information on how male circumcision affects marriage and the female sexual experience. One researcher started a study, and came to a preliminary conclusion that men who were uncircumcized were more likely to avoid divorce, but unfortunately died before finalizing his research.

My husband and I did not have our sons circumcized for a variety of factors--the lack of a clear cut medical need (and here), lack of religious directive, knowledge that the original circumcision commanded to Abraham is not the same as the circumcision that is performed today, and the bottom line that it seemed to us to be an extremely painful elective cosmetic surgery that we felt our sons should be the ones to make the decision on (similarly, we do not have our daughters' ears pierced). But none of those factors had anything to do with the possible ramifications on divorce or the sexual experience their future spouses might have.

But according to what I read, the impact could possibly be significant. Dr. Christin Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom writes about the topic:
And intriguingly, because the area of sexual sensation is so localized in the tip [of the intact penis], the penis only has to travel a short distance to excite one set of nerves or another. In other words, it doesn't have to withdraw very far to receive pleasure on the outward stroke. This allows the penis to stay deep inside the vagina, keeping the man's pubic mound in close and frequent contact with a woman's clitoral area, which increases her pleasure and a sense of closeness....

The natural penis may be more comfortable for the vagina than the circumcised penis. The coronal ridge of the natural penis is more flexible; O'Hara likens it to the resiliency of Jell-O. The circumcised penile head is considerably harder--overly firm and compacted like an unripe tomato. This is because circumcision cuts away 33-50 percent of penile skin. As a result, the skin of the penile shaft can get stretched so tightly during an erection that it pulls down on the skin covering the glans, compressing the tissue of the penis head. The abnormally hardened coronal ridge can then be very uncomfortable to vaginal tissue during intercourse. Women sometimes experience a scraping feeling with each outward stroke and even report discomfort after intercourse or even the next day. The brain makes pain-relieving endorphins that may partially block any discomfort during intercourse itself. As a gynecologist, I can tell you that painful intercourse is a very common symptom in women, many of whom blame themselves or who feel that something is wrong with their sexual response....

Circumcised sex may cause the vagina to abnormally tense up and decrease its lubrication. Women report more problems with lubrication when having sex with circumcised men, possibly because of irritation from the harder tip and involuntary tensing against it, and also because the longer stroke length tends to remove lubrication from the vagina. Often an artificial lubricant is necessary.

This has certainly left me with a lot to ponder. According to Sex as Nature Intended It, it may actually be the woman that suffers the most in bed from male circumcision. A survey conducted for the book found that women who have had sex with both circumcized and intact men prefer intact men by a ratio of 9 to 1 (I have no idea of the validity of the methodology for the survey, having not read the book). Could it be that much of the dissatifaction with sex in marriage is set in the first 24 hours of a newborn boy's life?

Ironically, some of the women I've been in discussions with who were most vocal about not desiring sex, were also some of the most vocal proponents of circumcision.


Anonymous Amelia said...

You might be interested in the work of Bensley and Boyle, in Australia, on female arousal disorder.

"Most likely, reported vaginal dryness and the related clinical designation ‘female arousal disorder’ is but a normal female response to coitus with a man with an iatrogenically deficient penis.5"

New Zealand Medical Journal

1:23 AM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:00 PM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger Jenn said...


Thank you for the link!

In addition to the quote you mentioned, I found this one interesting:

Women who preferred a circumcised male sexual partner averaged 27.3 years of age (SD = 8.2), while those whose stated preference was for a genitally intact partner had a mean age of 36.4 years (SD = 13.7). Thus, the role of the male foreskin in preventing loss of vaginal lubrication during intercourse may become more discernible with increasing age among women.

Interesting especially in the light that it is often reported that women are in their sexual prime in their mid 30's, but here we see that when it comes to women with circumcized partners, they might find their 30's to be anything but "prime."

4:03 PM, April 26, 2006  
Anonymous Radha said...

I am 36 yr old woman working as beer bar waiter. I have three beautiful daughters age 18,16 & 13.
Me & my daughters love sex with circumcised males.

8:21 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so so much for this beautiful post. I hope lots of women read it. Best wishes to you.

12:26 AM, November 25, 2009  

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