A survey and report on the sex lives of working people in China released on Tuesday astonished the public — and experts — because of the bleak picture it painted of the sexual health of Chinese people, especially men.
“The China Ideal Sex Bluebook,” released on the 15th Men’s Health Day, showed that only 37 percent of Chinese working people are satisfied with their sex lives. Nearly half of working men cannot manage an erection sufficiently hard for satisfactory sex.
Experts suspect that high pressures are a major reason for the increasing sexual problems afflicting Chinese working people, while many often hesitate to search for help because of a sense of shame about the problem.
The bluebook is based on research conducted since early this year, arising out of a sexual health forum organized by the Chinese Medical Association Men’s Branch, China Sexology Association (CSA), Public Health magazine. Over 10,000 people from 22 cities participated in the survey, some online and others offline.
The main conclusion is that Chinese people’s satisfaction with their sex lives is quite low. Only 37 percent of the interviewees said they are very satisfied with their sex lives, 51 percent feel basically satisfied, 8 percent just take it as a routine, while 4 percent seem to have no desire at all.
The sexual health condition for working men is even worse. About 81 percent of the male participants reported having sex fewer than three times a week, 48 percent cannot manage sexual intercourse for more than 10 minutes, while 45 percent cannot manage the top grade of erection hardness.
The erection hardness information came from the offline portion of the survey, and from records provided by medical personnel treating people for sexual dysfunction. There are four grades of erection hardness. Only the fourth grade is considered satisfactory for sex, while men with hardness from the first to third grade are considered to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Men working in the auto industry suffer the most erection problems, according to the research. About 42 percent of men in this industry can reach only the first or second grade. Men in the medical industry seem to perform the best, with 77 percent being able to manage the fourth grade.
For overall satisfaction, men in the education field and women in manufacture expressed the highest levels.
The poor performances of the men also impact women’s sex lives, of course. More than 21 percent of women in the survey reported never having experienced orgasm, while 33 percent occasionally had orgasms, 31 percent reached orgasm most of the times, and only 15 percent said they could experience orgasm every time.
The research helped raise awareness of sexual problems that seem to be quickly increasing among Chinese people today, though it may not give a complete picture of the condition.
That’s because the offline portion covered only a limited number of working people, and not everybody is willing to admit having such problems, says physician assistant David Li, a volunteer consultant for sexual health problems on “Xingfu Kangfu” (sexual health recovery) hotline in Shanghai, which just started on Tuesday.
The hotline offers one-on-one anonymous consultation on the telephone, giving primary analysis and advice and recommending suitable medical channels if needed. Most of the volunteers are physician assistants, while physicians also work as volunteers online to give advice for more complicated problems.
Those in the medical field agreed that sexual problems are on the increase in China, based on the number of patients they are seeing.
The hotline received more than 30 phone calls within the first day — a good start, in Li’s view.
“It is always hard to get a complete picture of sexual problems in China, as most people feel ashamed to admit or even talk about such problems. But the situation seems to improve a bit with the gradual change of people’s altitude toward sex,” says Li. “At least, there are more people searching for help in anonymous ways.”
Premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction (ED) are among the most frequently mentioned problems by the callers. Most of those under 35 years old are more concerned about premature ejaculation while those over 45 worry more about their ED problem, Li points out.
“It is natural for people’s sexual ability to decrease with age, though sexual dysfunction can happen at any age,” says Li. “But the quick life pace and unhealthy lifestyle common among Chinese people today often aggravate the situation.”
Jiang Hui, general secretary of CSA who organized the research, also chalked up the increasing number of sexual problems to the high pressures from work and unhealthy lifestyle common among Chinese people today.
Fatigue, psychological pressure, irregular diet, limited physical exercise, and insufficient sleep are among the most common factors affecting men’s sexual ability, while poor sexual performance may also be a symptom of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems that need checking.
Psychological problems can also play a role. Li says a middle-aged couple seeking help had found their sex life not as good as it used to be. They started questioning their love for each other, which made the man perform even worse.
“Though the problem is not life-threatening, it has very negative impact on men’s confidence, mutual trust between couples and life quality,” says Li. “And most importantly, it will not heal itself without proper treatment.”
A reluctance to admit the problem remains an obstacle to seeking help for many people. More than 70 percent of the hotline callers had never seen a doctor, yet were eager to know more about their problems and possible solutions.
Many people tried searching for related information online but were often left confused by the abundant and disorganized advice.
“What we can do is just try our best to give them primary analysis and advice, and persuade them to see a doctor when necessary,” says Li.