While the average number of times a year SA men enjoy sex is 52, it pales incomparison to the global average of 104 times annually. The national survey, conducted by Pharma Dynamics also found that a startling 22% of our country’s men are making love less often than three times a month and a further 16% are considered to be in a sexless relationship.
Over 500 men involved in committed relationships, between the ages of 18 and 55 participated in Pharma Dynamics’ survey, which revealed a treasure trove of intimate data about men’s bedroom behaviour.
Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says men blamed everything from the country’s softening economy, mounting work pressures and the distraction of social media for their lack of sexual intimacy.
“Contrary to popular belief, when men are worried about their jobs and about money, they are generally not in the mood for sex. It’s a fallacy that men are always up to the task. Stress and anxiety activates the survival system of the body and inhibits libido. When you’re very depressed you lose your appetite for a lot of things in life, including sex.
“If sexual dysfunction like premature ejaculation (PE), erectile dysfunction (ED) or orgasmic dysfunction are present, it can reactively cause a low desire as part of avoidance behaviour. Fears and anxiety typically manifest themselves in a sexual situation where the subconscious mind will protect a man from experiencing negative emotions by inhibiting his desire. This then keeps him from engaging in sexual activity and could possibly even set himself up for failure,” she says.
Van Aswegen points out that 23% of men surveyed admitted to suffering from erectile dysfunction and that 12% of them have lived with the condition for several years already – some five years and longer.
“ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is good enough for satisfactory sexual performance. Currently, it affects more than 40% of SA men and urologists confirm that the condition is much more common than a decade or two ago.
When asked how often SA doctors treat ED in their practice, 80% of them said more than ten times a month a steep increase from a few years ago.
“It used to be thought of as an old man’s disease, but nowadays we are seeing it more often in younger men too. About a quarter of men complaining of ED are younger than 40.”
ED is usually a precursor to cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension and/or diabetes as a result of a poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking and drinking excessively. As many as eight in ten cases of ED can be ascribed to an unhealthy lifestyle.
“For an erection to occur, the penis must be supplied with sufficient blood. When patients cannot achieve erections regularly, it is often a sign that they have hardened arteries or atherosclerosis, which could be a symptom of CVD.
Erectile Dysfunction is thus part of a larger health problem.”
Another interesting nugget of information is that 7% of men take ED medication recreationally to boost their sexual performance, even though they don’t need to.
“The danger with this,” says van Aswegen, “is that it could lead to drug dependence, which means that if you don’t have ED now, using the medication could actually cause you to have ED problems when you are not using it. It’s usually younger men who misuse ED drugs to help them get a longer-lasting or larger erection.
As is the case with all medication, ED drugs too should be taken responsibly.”
Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Vardenafil are all part of the phosphodiesterase drug family and are the most widely prescribed ED medication in South Africa.
Complementary medicines also proved to be a popular option among respondents as a way to boost their sexual performance, but Van Aswegen warns that alternative treatments should generally be avoided as it is not supported by placebo controlled studies.
Pharma Dynamics’ survey also hints to the allure of modern technologies being behind the downward trend in sexual activity among men.
“People have tablets and smartphones and they’re taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, while answering work and personal emails.”
Thirty-four percent of respondents pled guilty to this crime and listed it among the top three reasons for not getting their game on beneath the sheets. And fifty-one percent of them revealed it’s not just them, but their partners too that spend too much time on technology, contributing to the problem.
“These days’ people touch their smart-phones more than they touch their partners.
The fact that work comes into our home now blurs the line between the bedroom and the outside world. There is no strict divide anymore, so technology bans at bedtime should be crucial,” suggests Van Aswegen.