The NHSLS found that unhappiness with life correlated with sexual problems. The data did not clarify whether one causes the other, but women and men who were expe­riencing sexual problems were considerably more likely to be unhappy with their lives in general than were respondents without sexual difficulties (Laumann et al., 1999). Emotional intelligence—the ability to identify, feel comfortable with, and manage one’s emotions—appears to have significant effects on sexuality. One study found that women who were better able to identify and manage their emotions had more fre­quent orgasms during intercourse and masturbation than did women with less ability to do so (Burri et al., 2009). Research has found that men with orgasmic inhibition have difficulty relaxing, being playful, and releasing the sense of being in control. They also have difficulty feeling emotionally dependent with a partner (Sandstrom & Fugl – Meyer, 2007).

Lack of sexual interest and response is a common symptom of depression (Quinta & Nobre, 2011). Moreover, stressful life problems such as a death in the family, divorce, or extreme family or work difficulties can interfere with a person’s ability to focus on the pleasure of the sexual experience (De Jong, 2009). Severe stress and trauma, as experi­enced by combat veterans, can also interfere with emotional intimacy and sexual func­tioning (Helfing, 2008; Letourneau et al., 1997).

Sexual Difficulties and Solutions