Arousal and Desire - is there a difference?

Discussion in 'Women's Issues' started by Chaotica, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Chaotica

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    There's a new study out on dysfunctions affecting women.

    The top overall problem was lack of desire (47%) and the third problem was arousal issues (40%).

    Can anyone explain what the difference is? Are you as a woman able to tell when you desire it but are not arouses, and vice versa? 'Cause I can't seem to tell the difference in myself... :confused:
     
  2. Gillette

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    My guess would be that desire = interest, where the arousal issues would be things like lubrication and orgasm.
     
  3. HiddenLacey

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    I have always thought the two went hand and hand. Desire is when I want him, but arousal is when I'm ready for him.

    Satisfaction and orgasms would be my main two. As long as I desire my partner, I'm going to become aroused.... however if the sex never leads to satisfaction/ orgasm, I'm going to lose my desire for him overall which leads to not being aroused/ lubricated, painful sex, etc.

    I'm not interested in sex where I never get anything out of it. The being close part is nice, but the sexually frustrated part is not.
     
    #3 HiddenLacey, Aug 3, 2010
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  4. Enid

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    Ditto what Gillette & submissivegirl said.

    I figure desire as the motivation, which can be separate from physically being aroused (lubrication, tingly feelings, flushed skin, sensitive nipples, so on and so forth).
     
  5. RawDog

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    I know this was a question aimed at women, but for a guy it's a lot more straightforward. I desire to be inside my wife 24/7. After I ejaculate, the arousal is gone, but the desire remains. So I guess the quick and dirty definition would be that Arousal is the physical manifestation of the desire.
     
  6. HiddenLacey

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    Thanks for your imput RD:biggrin1: I don't think Chaotica would mind!!
     
    #6 HiddenLacey, Aug 3, 2010
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  7. D_Reuben Stallpisser

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    I agree with this statement, but I don't know that it is any more straight forward for men than it is for women. Particularly when I was a teenager (tough to remember that far back), I would become aroused when my only desire was for the rest of the class at school not to see that I had a hard on. So at times, we guys can be aroused without sexual desire. By the same token, I love and desire my wife always, but I don't always walk around with an erection (arousal).
     
  8. Riven650

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    Spot on. A simple measure of arousal is erection and lubrication. Both sexes make lubrication: Men make pre-cum, women make vaginal lubrication. Men have penile erections, women have clitoral erections. Erections and lubrication go together 0r they should, if everything's working fine.

    But men who suffer from impotence can feel like having sex (desire) and make pre-cum (arousal) but if the penis won't become erect there's a sexual dysfunction - that scenario os common in men who have to have prostate surgery, as it damages the nerves and blood vessels that make erection happen.

    Women can also suffer from problems with the mechanisms of arousal. Certainly many women have problems with lubrication, but the clitoris is not as obvious as the penis and lack of clitoral erection can go unnoticed because it isn't essential for penetration.

    Hormonal and emotional problems in men and women tend to affect both desire and arousal. Problems with arousal can cause emotional problems, which affects desire, etc. etc. Trying to tease apart cause and effect isn't easy. So differentiating desire from arousal is not only difficult but in order to make sense of it you need to look at the big picture. ie. see the person in context. For instance: Very often a person can have a sexual problem in one relationship which just disappears when they start having a relationship with someone else. In other cases, a new job can cause a person to feel sexy and enjoy sex more, simply because their self esteem goes up.
     
    #8 Riven650, Aug 3, 2010
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  9. DeepDish

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    Following up on what Riven said, I've read some of that research. A lot of it seems to be related to hormonal changes in menopausal women.

    Per the studies, some women can completely lose their libido (desire) at menopause but still have the physical ability to be aroused and have an orgasm.

    They are orgasmic and can enjoy sex, but aren't driven to seek sex out.

    Some women lose the ability to be aroused at all.
     
    #9 DeepDish, Aug 3, 2010
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  10. Riven650

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    Absolutely. My wife is post menopausal. She has very little interest in sex and doesn't think about it on a day to day basis. But my erection, for instance, can arouse her and away we go. It's not easy though, as her lack of interest means she rarely initiates sex, and I think that has led me to feel she doesn't want sex, or me, or both. I've had to dig very deep to keep our sex life going.
     
  11. Bbucko

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    That's kinda how I see it. Desire is a mental thing, arousal is a physical response.
     
  12. RawDog

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    You are very welcome.
     
  13. cmdb8

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    ditto
     
  14. Belly_Dancer

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    I agree with most of what has been said. For me, desire and arousal are kind of hard to separate, because when true desire arises in me, arousal almost always follows, instantly.

    There is a mild, ever-present desire for my husband, but it is not the fiery need that arises at other times. When I feel that hot sense of need emotionally, I almost always feel it physically as a swelling and tingling of my sex organs as well.
     
  15. D_Rosalind Mussell

    D_Rosalind Mussell New Member

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    For me, arousal is the result of desire and stimulation combined.
     
  16. B_subgirrl

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    This is how the field of psychology sees it. In the DSM IV (one of the two main diagnostic manuals) sexual disorders are classified according to these definitions. Just a note: just because someone does not get aroused or have desire, it does NOT mean they have a disorder. It is only considered a disorder if it causes the person distress or has an undesired effect on their lives.
     
  17. MercyfulFate

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    I can be aroused 20 times a day, but true desire is rare. Desire means I really want it, and I'm going to go after it regardless of obstacles.

    Others may define it differently, but that's mine.
     
  18. Riven650

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    This is an extremely good point subgirrl.
     
  19. DeepDish

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    Another way to think about it, maybe:

    Desire = Thirst
    Arousal = Drinking

    If you aren't thirsty, you aren't all hot and bothered to run out and find water.

    However, you don't always have to be thirsty to enjoy a lovely ice cold glass of water once it is put in front of you.
     
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