LAST_UPDATESun, 20 May 2018 9pm

Malaysians And Their Sex Lives: A Peek Under The Covers

THE facts say that 74% of Malaysians are having sex at least once a week, putting our country in the Top 10 list compiled worldwide ranked according to percentage; to be more exact No. 7 after Greece , Brazil, Russia, China, Italy  and Poland. No kidding, this is all researched and documented in the Durex 2012 Global Face of Sex survey.  But ask how sexually satisfied are Malaysians, and the answer is the complete opposite.

Only 38% of Malaysians are satisfied with their sex lives and the loss of romance and sexual prowess are key factors for the lack of sexual satisfaction. In fact, in the same survey, Malaysia ranks in the bottom eight countries of least sexually satisfied countries.

Clearly enough, this indicates that many Malaysians do not feel satisfied with the sex they are getting although they realized that sex plays a pivotal role in our physical and emotional well-being. In fact, it is important that we protect and nurture our sexual health as well as that of our partner's in a bid to maintain a healthy marital relationship.

Sexual satisfaction also refers to the pleasant feeling of sexual activity or positive attitude to sexual behaviour. Past studies have provided evidence that sexual satisfaction is positively associated with overall relationship satisfaction as well as communication and relationship satisfaction.

So now close your eyes and how long does it take before your mind wanders to sex? It is indisputable that most of us think about it quite a bit. It feels good as it increases our sense of well-being.

It is important to note that being able to achieve sexual satisfaction can help boost our immune system, emotional well-being and even our lifespan. But now it begs the question: how satisfied are Malaysian couples when it comes to sexual intercourse? How can we increase our sexual satisfaction in order to maintain a healthy sex life?

Sexual Satisfaction Is Not Only About Achieving Orgasm

By definition, sexual satisfaction means affective response arising from one evaluation of his or her sexual relationship, including the perception that one’s sexual needs are being met, and fulfilling one’s own and one’s partner’s expectations, and a positive evaluation of the overall sexual relationship.

Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes “good sex”, experiencing sex and their own sexuality in unique ways. And while pleasure and orgasm can certainly play a big part in the equation, attaining an overall sense of sexual satisfaction in life can often require a lot more.

Surprisingly, according to the Asia-Pacific Sexual Health and Overall Wellness survey, it stated that two out of three Malaysian men and three out of four women are not satisfied with their sex lives.

Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi Photo: Malaysian Digest / Teh Wei SoonDr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi Photo: Malaysian Digest / Teh Wei SoonIn an interview with Malaysian Digest, Damai Service Hospital's consultant clinical andrologist, reproductive and sexual health specialist Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi (pic) said there are many patients especially married couples who have sexual satisfaction issues which usually stem from various sexual problems.

“There are patients of both genders and they come from all age groups, where they often accompanied by their spouses when seeking medical care. Men usually come to seek treatment for their own sexual related problems, while women consult and discuss about their marital sex problems associated with their husbands.

“Among the most common sexual problems in men patients include erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE) and inhibited sexual desire as well as delayed or non-ejaculation,” he said.

“Sexual satisfaction is not just about the ability to orgasm and the frequency of sex among married couples but it encompasses emotional factors and spiritual elements such as good interaction, free from health problems, positive marital relationship, sexual preferences, physical capacity and good health condition, among other things. Simply put, sexual satisfaction is not just about physical pleasure but rather, it is an all-inclusive thing which is often interlinked,” he noted.

He explained further that the frequency of intercourse between married couples does not directly denote the level of sexual satisfaction and hence, it cannot be the sole determinant of a healthy sex life.

Referring to a Global Better Sex Survey (GBSS) survey conducted by Pfizer in 2011, which revealed that a high number of Malaysians are not sexually satisfied, Dr Ismail observed that when an individual does not successfully deal with stress mainly due to hectic work life, it may reduce sexual satisfaction and lower sexual pleasure among married couples.

"Couples who have sexual problems or sexual dysfunctions should approach and consult a medical expert for help. They should not be shy away from receiving proper treatment," he added.

Sexual Dysfunction On The Rise Among Malaysians

There are many interrelated physical and medical conditions that can cause problems with sexual function, Tropicana Medical Centre’s consultant urologist Dr Hemanth Kumar Ramasamy (pic) told Malaysian Digest when contacted recently.

“In general, Malaysians are doing not too bad when it comes to sexual satisfaction and healthy sexual function. However, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction cases among Malaysians is on the increasing trend where there is about 20 percent, or one in five Malaysian men now experiences sexual problems,” said Dr Hemanth.

He pointed out sexual dysfunctions is closely associated with health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol level, poor eating habits, sleeping disorders, stress related (physiological issues), drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking tobacco. Dr Hemanth Kumar RamasamyDr Hemanth Kumar Ramasamy

“Although the sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) are less common among young Malaysians, but the number of patients that actually seek medical treatment is fairly small,” he said, adding that the age group that commonly affected by sexual problems are those who aged 50 and above.

Commenting further on the matter, he said patients with heart disease, diabetes and obesity are categorized as the risky group for sexual problems as they are closely linked between one and the other and that, understandably, can be a warning sign of erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems.

“For example, patients with heart disease are vulnerable to sexual dysfunction because they have smaller blood vessels or vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels that result from contraction of the muscular walls of the vessels). It happens when the smaller arteries in the body, in the penis for example, are the first to get plugged up, thereby causing or worsening erectile dysfunction in men which could eventually lead to sexual dissatisfaction between a husband and wife ” he explained.

On whether the use of certain drugs to improve sexual performance is harmful, Dr Hemanth said: “It would not affect the health nor interfere sexual performance if they are properly consumed. In fact, drugs that are specifically prescribed for the treatment of sexual problems could positively help the patients to improve their sex lives as long as the patients are fit enough and permissible to consume them."

Sex And Religion: How Do We Reconcile Desire With Faith?

Interestingly enough, non-sexual constructs also influence an individuals’ sexual satisfaction and of particular interest is the influence of religion. A recent research on how religiosity related to sexual satisfaction was carried out and it revealed that frequency of attendance at religious events has been shown to be more influential on an individual’s sexual attitude and behaviours than his or her religious denomination.

Moreover, high frequency of religious attendance or religiosity predicts less frequent engagement in sex including oral, anal, and vaginal sex while low religiosity is associated with more liberal or permissive sexual views. Remarkably, religious rigidity has been found to influence sexual satisfaction within marriage relationships, with more religiously rigid individuals reporting less sexual satisfaction and more sexual dysfunction.

Many religions consider unusual sex behaviours such as oral sex, anal sex or masturbation to be immoral and taboo. It is an undeniable fact that many religions around the world disapprove any behaviour that is engaged for the sole purpose of pleasure. For example, in Christianity, many disciples hold that sexuality is a sacred covenant between those who are married and can even bring an individual closer to deity.

Ustaz Fathul Bari Mat JahayaUstaz Fathul Bari Mat JahayaWhen contacted, Umno Young Ulama Committee Chairman Ustaz Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya (pic) told Malaysian Digest that marriage is a natural necessity for human being and thus marital quality in married couple families is of utmost importance in Islam.

“In Islam, marriage bears many positive outcomes to the well-being of a family. Technically speaking, the ultimate goal of marriage includes the formation of a family through which one can find love, security and serenity. Secondly, through marriage, one can find a partner through marriage to satisfy their sexual needs in a secure environment and proper manner. This could help them to refrain from involving in undesirable activities such as extramarital sex, excessive masturbation and rape. Thirdly, it promotes reproduction as the procreation of mankind is continued,” said Fathul.

Asked if religious education could help to improve sexual satisfaction among married couples, he said: “Religious classes play the similar roles like any other learning institutions – to impart useful knowledge to its students. Hence, it is no doubt that they play pivotal role in maintaining a healthy family and this includes the well-being of their sex lives.”

“Besides, religious education could also impart useful knowledge about sex. It is understandable some married couples tend to practice certain sex behaviours to achieve sexual satisfaction, but it has to be noted that those acts are disliked in Islamic teachings although there is no clear command in Hadith and Quran prohibiting such act. Take for example, although many Islamic scholars believe that sex acts like oral-genital contact is tolerable, but it does not mean that Islam promotes those behaviours in sex life among married couples,” he said.

“It is permissible for married couples in Islam to choose whatever sex behaviours to arouse each other during sexual intercourse in order to achieve sexual satisfaction, as long as it does not contradict with Islamic teachings,” he stressed further, adding that a great deal of emphasis has been given in the Quran that anal sex is strictly prohibited in the religion.

Good Sex Is About Quality Over Quantity

As observed by andrologist Dr Ismail, "it is vital to have a healthy sex life as it plays a great role to maintain our overall health. It is a known fact that we are programmed to seek sex with our partners and the desire to have sex is innate within all human beings. Therefore, couples should enjoy having sexual intercourse in order to maintain a healthy marital relationship." The Kiss is an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Photo: BritanicaThe Kiss is an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Photo: Britanica

With increasing formal education levels in Malaysia, we should expect the improvement in our knowledge or quest for greater understanding about our sexual well-being especially as sexual satisfaction is an important factor that determines consistency and durability of a relationship.

Sexual satisfaction is a complex and yet sensitive issue interwoven with our entire existence encompassing spiritual, mental and physical health as well as social, cultural and emotional bonds.  It has a very important role in a relationship and any defect in sexual satisfaction is significantly associated with risky sexual behaviours, possible mental stress, social crimes and impact a relationship negatively.

Although having good sex in a relationship can contribute to a person’s overall sexual satisfaction, but it is not the sole determinant as other factors such as good communication, realistic shared expectations, and being able to understand each other in other aspects of life are equally important.

As highlighted by experts and the worldwide surveys results, quality rather than frequency could be the key, as a couple just need to know they have those moments of intimacy which only they share and which bond them together.