Women’s sexuality is invisible or unimportant or mysterious or…

So, I’ve mentioned this before but not in a while: my crotch-region doesn’t work like it used to and this is concerning to me. Specifically, I don’t get erections anymore (yes, the clitoris gets erect when its owner is aroused, clitorises and penises are literally the same organ and behave the same way, look it up).

I still crave sex and orgasms. I still get sexy and kinky thoughts. There’s just no corresponding tingly, alert, ready-for-action feeling in my pants when I do. And because an unerect clit isn’t as sensitive as an erect one, I need much firmer stimulation for a longer time in order to get off, now. I can still crank one out if I try hard enough (an impotent man can, too, I believe). It’s just difficult.

I spoke to my family doctor about this, and asked what could cause it and whether perhaps Viagara would help. She said “Viagara doesn’t work the same way in women that it does in men.” But I looked it up and yeah, it does. It increases blood pressure and some of that blood pressure goes into the crotch. What the articles said wasn’t that Viagara doesn’t work for women, it was that women’s sexual issues are usually about lack of desire, whereas for men it’s that the desire part is fine but his body just isn’t cooperating, ergo Viagara addresses the men’s problem but isn’t usually the right solution for women because it doesn’t increase desire, only blood flow.

But having desire that my body won’t cooperate with is precisely my issue. I was very clear about this. And my doctor seems to have immediately written this off as “mysterious chick stuff – probably psychological” anyway.

She did refer me to some kind of sex specialist, though, so that’s cool. Except the specialist ended up pretty much shrugging and saying “Meh, you’re in your forties. Sometimes things stop working so well once we hit middle age.” Which…maybe? Except this problem began in 2011, when I was 38. And so many other women talk about becoming way more horny and orgasming more often and easily in middle age. And even men aren’t all doomed to impotence by age 40 – The Dandy is 42 and can generally go multiple times in one day, and the last fortysomething guy I banged was pretty much always up for sex.

Neither the doctor nor the specialist examined me physically. I don’t recall either of them asking me questions about my diet/lifestyle/etc or measuring my blood pressure, either. My doc did send me for hormone testing (which came out within normal levels) so that’s…something.

A while back, I had an appointment with a shrink to get me diagnosed with ADD. There was a big getting-to-know-you conversation, during which I mentioned that I’ve had erectile dysfunction and it’s concerning me a lot. He said “what do you mean by ‘erectile dysfunction’?” – I suppose he thought I was making a false equivalence. I said “I mean that the clitoris is supposed to get erect when aroused and mine doesn’t anymore.” He looked mildly startled and said “I see” and changed the subject.

I honestly think that women are stereotyped so hard as either a) not having sexual feelings at all or b) having a sexuality that sooooo complex and mysterious and entirely inside their heads, that the medical community doesn’t take women’s sexual problems seriously and if they do they just decide the issue is psychological.

I’ve had my sexual concerns on the back burner for a while as I deal with other general life stuff but something someone said to me today got me angry about my predicament all over again. I decided to try to find some answers for myself. I Googled erectile dysfunction in women, no quotes around any of it, and (of course) and the entire first page was all “sexual dysfunction in women” articles (I did a quick scan of a few of them; all the ones I looked at were in the “women’s sexuality is so darned complicated and psychological, who even knows what’s going on with these bitches?” camp. Oh wait no there was one article on how women can deal with erectile dysfunction – meaning when their husbands can’t get it up. And one article all about the causes, tests, and treatments of erectile dysfunction that was aimed only at people with penises.

So now I Googled “can women get erectile dysfunction?” and the first six or seven results were all some kind of drug company spam sites of some kind, not actual articles. The first result that actually asks the question seriously is this Yahoo Answers page, where a bunch of geniuses were like “Ha ha women don’t get erections, dummy” and “women don’t have penises so how could female erectile dysfunction possibly be a thing?”  (In fairness, one response did point out that the penis and clit react the same way. But it wasn’t the top-voted response. The top-voted response was “Women can take viagra, but not for erectile dysfunction. If your date has erectile dysfunction, I hate to be the bearer of bad news; it’s a man, baby.

I despair for the quality of sex education in our public schools. For real.

Oh that’s another thing, I’ve had to break my little “problem” to a few partners over the years and some of them honestly didn’t know WTF I was even talking about. These are men who were sexually experienced and liked giving oral and stuff. But they’d somehow never noticed their partner'[s clit getting more and more rigid when turned on. So I despair for men’s observational powers, too. (One or two guys were like “Ohhhh, so that’s why I couldn’t feel much of anything when I fingered you!” or even “Ah, okay. I did notice that you weren’t getting hard when I went down on you.” So all is not lost).

After the first shitty Yahoo Answers result there’s more drug spam and then another shitty Yahoo Answers result, in which – Jesus tapdancing Christ – a guy who claims to have been an OB/Gyn for 37 years condescendingly says that only men have penises so only men can get erectile dysfunction. This time nobody smart shows up – it’s all people going “but ladies don’t have peens derpity derp.”

Okay, so I flat-out Googled the phrase “clitoral erections.” Finally, there are some actual articles acknowledging that the clitoris becoming erect is a thing. And look, the very first result even acknowledges the use of Viagara for women as a thing! http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-clitoral-erection.htm

You see what I’m up against, though. It’s like this thing I’m going through is mostly not even acknowledged, to a point where some people look at me like I’m insane. It’s bullshit.


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5 responses to “Women’s sexuality is invisible or unimportant or mysterious or…

  1. Orange Joe

    A very low dose of testosterone might help?

  2. Leah

    That kind of shit pisses me off to no end. That’s why I shy away from asking people in the medical community and try to find answers to this kind of thing via the internet… but as you said, the whole world is fucked up when it comes to women and sexuality.

    My partners, thankfully, specifically are aware of my clit erections – I kind of get twitches through the arousal and plateau portions of my receiving oral, and anywhere within 5 minutes of orgasm I get a full-on erection that is apparently a Very Big Tell for my partners who have their tongues on my business. But I am loathe to think about the lack of support for women’s sexual issue physically and scientifically. Such bullshit.

  3. Moz Downunder

    From my limited experience some women are more obvious about this than others. Not to get all Morrissey on you or anything, but “some girls are bigger than others” 🙂

    I recall this stuff being discussed back when viagra was new, and way back then some researchers were excited that it could help some women directly and also help others rule out those physical problems as being the cause of sexual unhappiness. So 20 years later… some doctors haven’t caught up. I’m sad but not surprised, you know.

    I’ve got NFI how you even deal with it – buying viagra online would be a nightmare, but getting a doctor to understand the issue seems hard too.

  4. Brian

    I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, BUT even I realize that the clit and penis are very similar. In fetuses (feti?) they are the same thing up to the point where sexual determination kicks in and fetus takes off in which ever direction is wants.
    On-line (illicit) procurement of ED meds is fraught with risk. Better to see if you or a friend can procure some samples from your urologist or that sex specialist you were referred to and try it out.
    Your point makes sense – it could be a blood flow thing and meds that correct/improve blood flow might be effective.

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