Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Best And Worst Of World Sex

Chicago,US - Austria and Spain topped the list of the most sexually satisfied countries while Japan came in dead last according to a new global study of sexual wellbeing in the over-40 set.

Brazil showed that you can't always get what you want: 74 percent of men told researchers that sex was important to them but only 59 percent said the sex they were having was very or extremely pleasurable.

But perhaps most troubling was the gap between men and women: in every country except Algeria and Malaysia men were far more likely to report that they were happy with their sex lives.

One reason why women are so dissatisfied - and also disinterested - is that "evolution hasn't caught up with us," said lead researcher Edward Laumann, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago.

"Women are very sensitive to the quality of a relationship and when those things aren't in good order they're not interested," he said in a telephone interview. "It's a way of regulating (pregnancy) and protecting the children."

Another reason for lower levels of sexual satisfaction among women is a lack of foreplay, which is particularly problematic in male-dominated cultures in Asia and the Middle East, Laumann said.

"On entry it takes four minutes (for men) to ejaculate on average. Women need 11 minutes. That's why foreplay is so important," he said.

"In 75 percent of the cases the men report always having an orgasm. With women only 26 percent say they always have one, although 45 percent of men believe their partners always have an orgasm."

Researchers analysed survey data from 29 countries including:

Korea China Japan Indonesia Thailand South Africa Brazil Mexico Algeria Turkey Egypt Morocco Israel United States Canada Australia New Zealand and Much of Western Europe.

It's the most comprehensive study of its kind and shows much about how cultural attitudes affect sexual gratification which can help with overall health and happiness and improving the quality of life, Laumann said.

About 60 to 80 percent of people living in countries that had "gender equality" - essentially Western countries - said they were having good sex.

In Austria 80 percent of men and 63 percent of women said they were having extremely or very satisfying sex while 73 percent of men and 68 percent of Spanish women said they were having good sex.

In South Africa, 61 percent of men say sex is good, as against 47 percent of women. On the question of whether sex is important, 55 percent of men agree, while only 26 percent of women think its important.

In "male-centered sexual regimes" like the Middle East, Brazil, Italy and parts of Asia sexual satisfaction rates fell to the 40 to 50 percent range although the importance of sex in a person's life was often higher, particularly among men.

Muslim respondents reported a higher rate of importance for sex because sexuality in marriage is highly valued by both men and women.

In China, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan less than a quarter of respondents said their sex was either extremely or very pleasurable. Japan ranked last with just 18 percent of men and 10 percent of women saying they had good sex.

Sex also wasn't important to most respondents and women in particular. In Taiwan only seven percent of women said sex was very or extremely important to them.

One interesting finding was that women in eastern Asia who smoke are far more likely to enjoy sex.

"It's not a feminine thing to do so it's a sign of liberality," Laumann said.

Another thing which makes the study unique is that it focuses on people aged 40 to 80.

"People in these age ranges are in fact engaged in a significant amount of sex," Laumann said. "It should be a surprise to people in this age range but it will be to their children."

The study did, however, find a high level of sexual dysfunction.

"Premature ejaculation is the biggie for men - one in four worldwide report it," Laumann said.

"But the interesting thing is it doesn't have an adverse impact (on their rating of sexual pleasure) because it doesn't matter to them, though it may to their partner."

About a third of women worldwide do not experience sexual desire, although the rate is much higher in the Middle East and eastern Asia.

Only about 10 to 15 percent of respondents said they would go to a doctor to discuss their sexual problems but a majority of respondents said they would like their doctors to ask about their sex lives.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Archives of Sexual Behaviour. - Sapa-AFP

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