Irish men are losing their libido as one-in-five Irish men have little to no interest in sex according to systemic family therapist David Kavanagh.
He believes that the situation is “a crisis we urgently need to address”. However Irish men’s loss of sexual desire is not something that they are willing to talk about with the lads down in the pub, he explains.
"We're led to believe, from a very early stage, that men are supposed to be virile and powerful," he told the Evening Herald in Dublin. "The desire society has for men to show sexual performance leaves them thinking that it's not okay to own up to loss of libido; to say that they're worried about something not working down there. We worry that we're going to be laughed at or judged by our friends. We hide from the fact ourselves and turn away from our partners."
The family therapist is seeing a lot more men with libido loss in his profession. He thinks that Ireland's economic woes are the main cause of their problems.
"The recession is having a huge impact on men," he says. "No matter how much Irish society has evolved, men still see their role as the provider, especially if they have children. So when a man has lost his job or his business, he has lost a huge part of this identity in the context of his family.
"It's a crisis we urgently need to address -- this idea that men have nothing to give unless they are providers for their families. We need to start valuing men as nurturing, kind, loving fathers and husbands in every other respect of those words."
According to Kavanagh the most important ingredient of a healthy sex life is to be able to discuss your sex life with your partner. Communication is essential but he acknowledged that some people find the subject embarrassing.
"Any healthy sexual relationship is about give and take, and about communication, but talking about sex can be embarrassing or even seem dangerous to the relationship, so people go for years sometimes without saying anything at all. No wonder their sex lives are negatively affected," the expert explained.
The Internet revolution has also put a strain on the libido as pornography is now available and accessible 24-hours a day. Kavanagh believes that such a consistent immersion in the fantasy world of Internet porn can also be detrimental to couples sex lives.
"The use of pornography and the portrayal of women in those situations is having a conditioning effect on men in terms of their sexuality. It's very difficult for a man to turn to his wife and say: 'I don't find you attractive enough to want to make love to you.'"
Kavanagh insists that a healthy sex live comes from understanding the emotions we are feeling and how those are manifesting themselves in our bodies. "We need to be attentive to what we are feeling...before we can have healthy, meaningful sex with our partners," he added.
The modern invention of a little blue pill called Viagra has cured many men’s sexual problems. But according to the therapist the pill only deals with physical problems and it can cause people to become even more detached from emotional aspects which are usually the main issue to begin with.
The family therapist reiterates that talking about your sex life openly and honestly is one of the first steps to a healthy sex life.
"Sex is about a reciprocal relationship," Kavanagh noted. "It's only when we realize this and confront it, taking all the prejudices that society has about men and sex out of the mix, that we can go forward."
Forget the blarney! What it actually costs to live in Ireland