Health: Too busy for sex? You're probably female

Couples are lazy about loving but it is the men who are missing the passion, according to a marital expert. By Cherill Hicks
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THANKS TO Monica and Bill, we have been up to our ears in sex lately: oral sex, cigar sex, phone sex, office sex and sex fully clothed. Now, as if needed, it is National Good Sex Week and with it comes the publication of yet another book about - well, sex of course. Its author is Dr Andrew Stanway who is, according to the blurb, "one of the country's leading specialists in sexual medicine".

What we should all be doing during this week (apart from buying his book) may seem obvious. But Dr Stanway says the message is not just about having more, or better sex. "For some people it may mean having less," he says. "It's intended to make people take a fresh look at their relationship - to work out what they might be doing to improve things, whether that means spending an evening together or giving each other a massage."

Dr Stanway, who has specialised in sexual and marital medicine for 18 years, is no stranger to the media. A former on-screen doctor for TV-AM, he has also had his own mini-series, and he also wrote the "Lovers' Guide" series of adult sex education videos (which have done very well, thank you, and are now available in 10 languages in 14 countries).

It has to be said that some of his book makes fascinating reading. It claims for instance, that men have a clitoris too - it is tucked away under the glans, or head of the penis. People are often incredulous to hear this, he says. But he points out that since babies of both sexes develop very similarly in the womb, all parts of the genitals are represented in both sexes. Unlike its female equivalent, the male "clitoris" is not on the surface and is quite difficult to stimulate without using a vibrator. But it is endowed with large numbers of nerve endings and can when caressed produce "exquisitely pleasurable" sensations, according to Dr Stanway. Indeed, when it is stimulated correctly (and without going into detail in a family newspaper) the man can have an orgasm without an erection.

There are lots of other intriguing tips to improve your sex life in Dr Stanway's book, although some sound slightly worrying: how to have fun with electricity for example (quite safe, apparently, as long as the current is low).

To be fair, his book has its serious side: interspersed with the naughty bits about home-made sex toys and the pictures of clean-cut, smiling couples doing slightly odd things, is sound advice about common sexual problems (such as boredom), and the emotional side of intimate relationships. But do we need or want more information about sex? Post-Starr, is there anything new to say about it?

Dr Stanway clearly thinks there is. He maintains that despite the media obsession with sex, there is plenty of evidence to show that we are having less than ever before. This sad fact is caused not only by the pressures of work and family life, but also by the numerous distractions on offer, and by our aspiring lifestyles. Or, as he puts it, "Too many TV channels and too much DIY all push sex down the agenda".

In the old days, he says, when women stayed at home, come five or six o'clock they would get the children to bed, vacuum up a bit and then make themselves "all fragrant" in preparation for their man. However much we joke about this now, says Dr Stanway (himself in his 50s and married for 30 years), it worked for many couples. Nowadays what we have is both partners coming home dog tired, wondering whose turn it is to cook, clear up and put the kids to bed. He suggests one way of keeping a relationship going is not to look back and compare things now with how they were in the past.

A further problem, he says, is that women aren't actually missing sex that much - or not as much as men, anyway. Men, not surprisingly, would like a return to the days when the carpets were vacuumed and women fragrant. In Dr Stanway's experience it is men who feel they are not getting enough sex. Women, he believes, can sublimate their sexuality into other areas such as female friendships and children. "Men tend to focus on genitality but women aren't as function-centred," he says. "They get sexual rewards from non-genital activity, so they can find alternative tracks to get fulfilment and pleasure." Most couples he says, have to find a balance between genital and other, broader ways of expressing sexuality, and many men are already learning about the pleasures of "just having a cuddle".

Most couples, Dr Stanway believes, have no fundamental sexual problem. "But they're too busy and they've just got lazy. They need to put sex back on the agenda. To resolve to spend some time together, to do whatever it takes."

`The New Guide to Loving', by Dr Andrew Stanway, is published by Ward Lock, pounds 16.99