Independent research in several Western countries show that desire or lack of desire is the biggest sexual problem for most people. Also for men.

Bente Træen, a Norwegian sexologist, also challenges the common sense that men’s biggest problem is the ability to get an erection.

“If a man struggles to get an erection, it is not certain that there is medical treatment or therapy that focuses on the ability of erection that is the way to treat. If the man consciously or subconsciously isn’t in the mood, it’s no wonder that the penis does not get stiff.”

Ms. Træen has been working on a study that addresses the lack of desire and changes in mens’ lust patterns. The reactions she’s getting from men on this project show how taboo it is for men to talk about these things.

“There is an alarmingly large number of men that now are saying they have lost the desire for sex. And these men suffer in silence. A man is not supposed to not feel desire, and this is certainly not something you can talk to your friends about. What kind of men would they be then?”

Ms. Træen says she is worried about peoples’ overall sexual health given this great lack of lust.

“This is so big that I want to classify it as a public health issue. There are many reasons why sexual desire disappears; you get older, you take medication, undergo extensive surgeries and so on.”

If you ignore these ‘natural’ reasons, there are still disturbingly many; more than 30 percent of women and about 6 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 29, who report lust problems which are so big that they have an negative effect on their quality of life.

Twenty years ago, men were not asked about what worried them. It was assumed that men wanted to have sex, and that their biggest issue was that they just ‘couldn’t get it up’.

What can be a challenge for men is that their sexuality seems to be at a standstill unlike the women who seem to have a more adaptable sexuality. Women have been accustomed to adjust to the man’s and society’s wishes and needs, while the man has been able to hold on to his sexuality. Now that society is changing at an ever faster rate, the theory is that women are able to adapt themselves while the men are at a stand-still.

“Men no longer have control over what’s going on and they do not like it. These new generations of sexual partners demand more from men, and men have this new pressure to perform making some men just give up. They just can not deal with the demands and give up on their desire altogether.”

The fact that men aged 40 to 50 stride to maintain the same sexual drive as their sometimes much younger partners, might evoke a feeling of inadequacy and they give up on having an active sex life.

This text has previously been published in the Norwegian magazine Cupido.