My guest today is Martha Kauppi, who is a certified sex therapist and supervisor. Through her practice in Wisconsin, she focuses largely on relationships and how they can affect sex, and vice versa. In addition, she has a background in healthcare, so she brings a very useful perspective and expertise to her practice.
Within the episode, Martha talks about how complicated desire is in particular. She describes it as multifactorial, and she also says that desire and arousal is the complex result of a cluster of systems working together.
Enjoy this very informative talk from an important figure in the field!
Definition of Psychic Energy
When describing the libido, many people would define it as a physical phenomenon or a biological culmination of desire. Martha describes it as a psychic energy, or a “want to want to have sex.”
Martha says that if someone is wanting to cultivate desire, that’s a crucial first step and a great sign for her client. Because there are so many moving parts that go into desire, there are also many ways for a partner to struggle to become aroused.
Martha talks about the internal pressures, of ‘putting out’ in the relationship despite not having the desire, as well as the external pressures, like birthdays or other events.
She says that these pressures can contribute to a loss of arousal, even if subconscious. As the pressures ramp up, so too desire can diminish in relation.
Other Things That Can Make Accessing Desire Difficult
Martha says that sex pain is the biggest obstacle to desire, by far. It’s not technically a desire issue or intimately linked to the desire systems at work, but any sort of sexual pain will kill desire. And unfortunately, a lot of people who have painful sex are not bringing it up because they just assume it’s normal. Or in some cases, a lot of people don’t want to tell their partners because they are afraid of how it will affect the relationship.
Martha states that painful sex is treatable and should be addressed, because sex should not be painful. She also states that the pelvic floor is the usual cause for painful sex. In addition to this, she talks extensively about how a lack of pleasure contributes to decreased desire. Check it out!
Resources for Women and Men
In addition to a lot of valuable information on desire challenges for men and women, Martha shares some good resources: A Woman’s Touch (for men and women), OMG YES and of course The Guide to Getting it on is always a great book to reference.
Talk to a Professional!
She says that so many people are suffering and discouraged because of a lack of pleasure when they don’t need to be. If you can’t figure it out on your own, Martha really stresses the importance of seeing a sex therapist. She says she can often clear up pleasure problems in a couple of sessions.
Anxiety and Depression
A major cause for a lack of sexual desire can stem from mood disorders. And the medication that patients take to combat some of the symptoms can often lead to erectile issues and a decreased libido, so desire can be chemically affected as well as the challenges posed from depression or anxiety.
The Improvisational Sexual Style
Instead of thinking of desire as a linear progression, where kissing leads to touching, which then leads to internal stimulation and climax, Martha’s preferred improvisational style is much more sustainable a way to approach desire. Instead of walking up a staircase and participating in a hierarchy of sexual actions (with a goal in mind), there’s constant communication going on about desire and no script to stick to.
Martha thinks that the usual, linear model of sex actually creates needless sexual dysfunction. She thinks we would all be less broken if we could just ditch the linear model!
Key Links for Martha Kauppi
Martha’s website (for her blog and tons of free information on sexuality!): https://instituteforrelationalintimacy.com/
Amazing article on great sex for a lifetime: https://instituteforrelationalintimacy.com/getting-to-great-sex-for-a-lifetime/
If you’re enjoying the podcast and want to be a part of making sure it continues in the future, consider being a patron. With a small monthly pledge, you can support the costs of putting this show together. For as little as $2 per month, you can get advance access to each episode. For just a bit more, you will receive an advance copy of a chapter of my new book. And for $10 per month, you get all that plus an invitation to an online Q&A chat with me once a quarter. Learn more at https://www.patreon.com/bettersexpodcast
Better Sex with Jessa Zimmerman