Sex expert: Orgasm should be a right

Posted at 05/21/2009 8:42 PM | Updated as of 05/25/2009 6:28 PM

While the world is focused on the "swine flu" outbreak, a wellness expert says there is another "silent and secret epidemic" gripping the world: the inability of many women to achieve sexual bliss.

Dr. Lulu Marquez, an anaesthesiologist by profession, said she has made it her advocacy to spread awareness about sexual dysfunctions as well as to help women assert their right to sexual satisfaction and its corresponding health and emotional benefits.

"My advocacy is to make all women happy in bed. They should not allow it when it's only their partners who are happy [in bed]. An orgasm should be a right, hindi lang yung parang ginagamit ka lang na pambuntis ka lang," she said in an interview.

"When you have a sexually satisfying encounter, you look beautiful and satisfied," she added.

Indeed one may ask, what is an anaesthesiologist doing in the field of sex education?

"Nagbibigay [ako dati] ng pampamanhid. Eh medyo nagsawa na ako, dahil kailangan buhayin ang mga tulog!" she quipped, prompting a round of laughs from her mostly women audience at the "I Am Beautiful" Lifeshop seminar organized by the Abundance Corporation on Wednesday.

Marquez, a spunky middle-aged woman prone to cracking jokes during her speeches, happily conducts lectures to a variety of audiences from civic groups to overseas contract workers and their wives.

She said she is not shy about tackling taboos like sex since she approaches the subject from a purely medical perspective, but with a touch of humor here and there. She also hosts a radio show on DWIZ 88.2 called "Wellness On The Air" with Albert Castillo, discussing topics like stress management, female sexual dysfunctions, air pollution, and smoking.

Bare down there

Marquez, who considers herself a wellness expert, said she has talked to many Filipino women who were not sexually satisfied but were too afraid to open up the subject with their partners-- an attitude which may be attributed to Filipino culture.

"Filipinas tend to be shy and they are not so open about sex. Probably because their parents did not teach them the importance of sexuality. And you also learn the basics [about sex] from books, movies, or from your friends. You don't ask your doctors or OB [gynecologists] about sex. [Kung] nahihiya ka, parang you cannot take control of yourself. Your tendency is just to let your partner do it [to] you. When you make love, you should enjoy it," she said.

Marquez added that about half of all sexually active women fake their orgasms in order to please their partner. Men, meanwhile, sometimes have difficulty telling whether a woman's "vocalizations" and "epileptic fits" during the throes of passion are genuine or fake. Sometimes, she said, men don't attune themselves to their partner's body language and sexual needs.

"Women are like 'plantsa' or flat irons, they need to be heated first. Men are like 'posporo' or matches because when you light them up, they burn, but when the fire is gone, they snore the night away," she joked.

Citing a study by Psychology Professor Marita McCabe, Marquez said that about 55% of women have difficulty with sexual satisfaction and are too stressed for sex. McCabe is a sex researcher from the Deakin University in Australia.

Marquez added that sexual dissatisfaction can be caused by a myriad of factors, from sexual dysfunctions to lifestyle pressures like too much work-related stress or poor body image.

"Obesity causes sexual problems and weight loss can help cure sexual problems. If you're obese, you may be sick and cannot perform well. You also have difficulty moving. Sex is a good workout, you can burn up to 200 calories," she said.

Sexual fixes

One of the most prevalent hindrances to achieving orgasm is a set of what she calls oft-overlooked sexual dysfunctions, all grouped into the umbrella term of "frigidity."

"If men have erectile dysfunction, women have Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) which can occur not only to menopausal women but to young married couples even as young as 25," she said.

These dysfunctions include anorgasmia (the inability to climax during sex), hypoactive sexual desire disorder, sexual aversion disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, and female orgasmic disorder. Some of the worst include vaginismus (where the vaginal canal is too tight, usually caused by traumatic experiences) and dyspareunia (vaginal pain during sexual intercourse due to malformations, yeast infections or vaginal ulcers).

Although sexual dysfunctions can occur among young people, Marquez said it gets more and more common as men and women age because hormone levels drop, causing a decrease in libido.

"Women who are 35 years old and above, for example, experience a decrease in estrogen. When estrogen drops, the vagina gets so dry and loses its lubrication," she explained.

Some women (and men) opt to use chemical products like "intimacy gels" and pills supposedly promising a surge in one's sex drive, but Marquez said there may be a simpler solution to cure any sexual problem.

"What we need is intimacy. Kasi kung hindi kayo nagkakaintindihan ng partner niyo, baka hindi ka magka-orgasm. Always kiss your partner because the lips is the number one erogeneous zone of a woman. Hug them, talk to them," she said.

As the "silent and secret epidemic" becomes more like a pandemic (since Marquez insists that it affects women of all races and sexual persuasions), doctors and experts race to find a cure, from therapy to herbal medicines to alleged "sex elixirs".

Marquez, meanwhile, just wants to get the word out, one lecture at a time.