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Lack of sex leaves women depressed, says survey

Seven out of 10 South African women say that a lack of sexual intimacy in their relationships makes them feel depressed.

Seven out of 10 South African women say that a lack of sexual intimacy in their relationships makes them feel depressed and leads to doubts about their self worth, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the anti-depressant pharmaceutical firm Pharma Dynamics. 

More than 700 women between the ages of 18 and 55 were surveyed throughout South Africa about the effect that sex – or the lack thereof, rather – have on their mental wellbeing. The survey participants were all in committed relationships. 

While eight in ten women considered themselves to have a healthy sex drive, 15% cited their partner’s disinterest, as one of the primary reasons for not having sex as often as they would like to. 

A previous Pharma Dynamics survey found that South African men have far less sex than their global counterparts. The average number of times a year South African men have sex is 52, in comparison to the global average of 104 times.

According to Tumi Motsei, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, numerous international studies point to psychological problems ranging from embarrassment to serious depression as a result of a sex-less relationship, to which her company’s findings corroborate. 

Fear of rejection

“When a man starts to withdraw physically, it is natural for a woman to believe that her partner is losing interest in her, thereby impacting self esteem and feelings of attractiveness. Women who measure their self esteem by how men respond to their sexuality are particularly vulnerable to fears of rejection,” Motsei said in a press release.

As a result of their partner’s physical withdrawal, 54% of respondents said they felt less attractive; 44% felt less self confident; 34% cited emotions of alienation and abandonment; 22% were less trusting of their partner; 21% were concerned that their partner might be having an affair and 11% felt betrayed. 

Motsei warned that when a woman loses a loving sexual relationship, she may choose to withhold her partner from any type of sexual experience. “After going through the pain associated with rejection and lack of empathy from her partner, she might divert her attention to other matters in order to compensate for the loss of sexual intimacy. 

“This is the right time for a couple to see a relationship counsellor or sex therapist. Counselling may rekindle the romance and redirect energies into the relationship,” she said.

Mia Malan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Bhekisisa. She has worked in newsrooms in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington, DC, winning more than 30 awards for her radio, print and television work.