At the Medical Center for Female Sexuality, I treat a lot of women who come from religious backgrounds. I see people from all kinds of religions and all different levels of religiosity. The thing that strikes me is that many of our world’s religions do not support sex before marriage. Many people have been told their whole lives not to have any kind of sexual thought or activities up until the moment of marriage and then suddenly one day all that is supposed to change. I have seen that with so much pressure on the moments just after marriage and the belief that only after that ceremony should one be sexual, I see that sex can become fraught with a lot of anxiety and ambivalence. In that period, just after marriage, all those cognitive pathways are supposed to be reversed, which I think is incredibly difficult to do.
Human beings are generally creatures of habit. It is through repetition that we arrive at mastery. And one of the ways to change your behavior is to explore your thoughts or ideas about that behavior. Of course you can just start trying a new behavior as well. At the Center we try to do both. The moment at which I come in to the picture is when an individual or couple is struggling to break in to a new pattern or behavior. Though many women with sexual dysfunction are told it is all in their heads. I have found this is rarely the case. Sexual dysfunctions are generally a combination of multiple factors — physical, psychological, physical and possibly hormonal. And we do a thorough assessment to determine what is causing the problem and exactly how to go about treating it. My point is that women need to be gentle with them selves when they are in the process of changing their behaviors. And if you have never had sex and then all of a sudden you have it, it can be scary. It is often a process to learn to enjoy, so be patient. It will happen!