Clearing Away Medical Misconceptions about Sex

When Marta Meana began investigating dyspareunia (uncomfortable sexual intercourse in females) in the 1990s, the issue stumped the medical neighborhood and was often dismissed as attributable to mental or relational issues. Meana, however, presuming a physical condition might be accountable, mapped out conclusive regions where women experienced genital pain. She was the first to do so, and in doing so, she revealed the reality.

” Dyspareunia is, indeed, a medical issue,” Meana stated. “My research study discovered that the majority of women who experienced this sort of discomfort have a physical condition, and although that physical condition had a substantial effect on their mood and their relationships, the cause did not seem psychological.”

Meana’s research, together with associates’ subsequent research studies, resulted in the deconstruction of the condition. It was reclassified in 2013– from a dysfunction emanating from sexual dispute to a discomfort condition that affects sexuality. This reclassification appears in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Illness (DSM-5), the conclusive psychiatric handbook of mental illness, as a condition called genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder.

The seismic shift in how women with the condition are detected and dealt with is a point of pride for Meana, who is dean of the UNLV Formality College, a teacher, and a licensed clinical psychologist. She considers her dyspareunia findings her biggest contribution to the field of human sexuality and women’s health.

” Within my life time, this work has altered the way we conceptualize and treat ladies with the problem,” she said. “Now it is much less likely that a female who goes to a gynecologist and says, ‘I have genital discomfort when I try to be intimate with my partner,’ will be informed to have a glass of wine or asked, ‘Are you having issues with your spouse?’ or ‘Were you sexually abused?’– neither of which has any strong connection to this pain.”

Meana’s research on this and other locations of ladies’s sexuality has actually increased understanding of ladies’s sexual health, transformed treatment options for ladies, and most just recently gathered her field’s lifetime accomplishment award– the Masters and Johnson Award from the Society of Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), which is so exclusive, it’s provided just when SSTAR identifies a worthy honoree.

For her part, Meana describes her accomplishments simply as exactly what scientists are expected to do: progressively develop on findings. “I’m just trying to peel away the layers and not succumb to simple assumptions,” she said.

Finding the Continuum of Female Desire

Contrary to her findings on dyspareunia, Meana has actually discovered that females’s sexual desire– or lack thereof– is more tied to the mind than initially believed. And, although conventional wisdom would say otherwise, ladies in stable, healthy, and otherwise happy marital relationships yearn for the very same enjoyment in their sexual relationships as men do.

In a qualitative research study released in 2010, Meana and her college student Karen Sims interviewed married women and discovered that the factors their sexual desire declined had little to do with the quality of their relationships. It had much more to do with diminishing romance, overfamiliarity with partners, and feeling desexualized due to several roles as spouses, mamas, and working professionals.

” The more these females felt stuck in the regular rhythms of domestic life, the more their desire dissipated,” Meana said. “They would state they have no issue having desire for an overall stranger; they just didn’t have desire for their other halves anymore. Exactly what they were truly saying was, ‘Closeness is good, familiarity is nice, and I wouldn’t trade it for sexual enjoyment, but it’s not sexual excitement.'”

Ends up these women missed the novelty and disobedience, or forbidden nature, of their relationships before they said “I do”– attributes that we generally connect to male desire versus female desire.

” In some way, female desire was viewed as a much tamer thing, that it’s practically caring someone,” Meana said. “However it isn’t really.”

Following these findings, Meana directed her attention toward “sensual self-focus,” the concept that women’s desire is far more about how they feel about themselves than how they feel about their partners.

” These women had guys in their lives who were telling them they were beautiful and that they wanted them, however if they didn’t feel that way about themselves, it didn’t matter,” she stated.

Meana’s findings represented yet another total change in the research study of ladies’s sexuality and assisted psychologists better comprehend the complicated nature of female desire, which had actually typically been identified as revolving completely around love and relationships.

” We went from saying that desire is a spontaneous desire such as cravings or thirst, which didn’t fit a great deal of ladies, to an overcorrection that it’s everything about the relationship,” Meana stated. “Exactly what my desire work says is, it’s somewhere between.”

Advancing the Field Even More

Meana continues to chart brand-new territory in women’s sexuality research study with the curiosity and eagerness of a new scholar, often carrying out and releasing research study with trainees as co-authors. She has more than 75 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in prestigious research study journals and books to her credit. Presently, she’s studying the context of libido in males and females over age 40, chipping away at the misconception that “libido is the province of the young.” She balances her research with her duties as dean and her service on the editorial board of the International Journal of Scientific Health Psychology.

Meana’s academic career is punctuated with numerous accolades. She won Barrick Scholar and Barrick Distinguished Scholar awards at UNLV, a Nevada Regents Quality in Teaching Award, and the James Makawa Award for Exceptional Contributions to the Field of Psychology from the Nevada Psychological Association. She made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009. She’s a previous president of SSTAR, a recipient of the SSTAR Service Award, and a Fellow in the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. The Masters and Johnson Award she’ll be getting this month represents the peak of success in her field.

“Meana has actually generously shared her knowledge, skills, knowledge, research study, ideas, and her beautiful curiosity with her peers, with professionals in and outside the field of human sexuality, and with the trainees she teaches and supervises,” stated Kathryn Hall, president of SSTAR, in a declaration. “In lots of ways, consisting of the development of new scientist-practitioners, Meana continues to contribute to the advancement of our field.”

Still, Meana herself was amazed to be tapped for the honor.

“I felt 3 things: I must be getting old, I’m refrained from doing yet, and I felt unbelievably honored since these are my peers,” she said. “These are the people I respect the most in my field.”

“She prefers to let her work stand front and center. But Meana is a super star,” stated Chris Heavey, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a 21-year associate of Meana’s on UNLV’s psychology faculty. “Her research and composing have actually changed the way we think about critical aspects of human sexuality and females’s health.”

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