Now one of those experts is out to raise awareness of this and other male sexual issues he feels are widely misunderstood.
In his new book, "Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men And Sex," Abraham Morgentaler, an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, draws on 25 years of clinical experience to detail the sexual challenges men face. In an interview with Tracy Clark-Flory published Saturday on Salon, Morgentaler argued that the dearth of information about how men work sexually has given rise to certain myths about male sexuality, including the idea that men always want sex.
"We accept complexity for women but we simplify the story for men. It’s as if people think we know everything there is to know about men, and it’s false," said Morgentaler.
One of the male sexual issues that surprised Morgentaler most early in his career, he wrote in his book, was the habit of men faking orgasms. As he told Salon, the reasons also surprised him: Most men who fake it do so because they want their partners to feel good about the encounter. "In their minds, it’s actually a form of kindness," he said. "They’re kind of letting the other person know that they’ve done a good job."
Morgentaler attributed many of the sexual problems his patients report -- from premature ejaculation to erectile dysfunction -- to changing gender roles. As women excel professionally and financially, he told Clark-Flory, it becomes more important to men to be the "provider" in bed, but men simultaneously become paralyzed by the pressure they feel to be amazing lovers. Morgentaler's observation seems to echo the predictions journalist Liza Mundy in her book "The Richer Sex," in which she argued that, as women become the breadwinners in more relationships, the responsibility for being sexually appealing shifts from women to men.
"A guy’s sense of his masculinity, especially in the sexual realm, is not about what he experienced himself; he gets his sense of masculinity through the eyes of his partner," said Morgentaler, adding, "The idea that a man might be rejected because he can’t be an adequate provider sexually turns everything upside down. It wasn’t that long ago, the ’50s or so, that we saw this term about women doing their 'wifely duty.' It was assumed that women didn’t enjoy sex and that part of the marriage relationship was that the woman had to submit to it for the benefit of the relationship."
Morgentaler's observations obviously don't apply to all men. As Clark-Flory points out, the author's sample is self-selected: "These are men who have sought out sex-related medical help." Also, Morgentaler admitted in the interview that there is very little data on how many men fake it. A small 2010 study out of the University of Kansas found that 25 percent of men in a group of under 200 college students said they had faked it. The men's site Askmen.com's 2012 survey of a much larger sample -- 2,000 men -- found that 34 percent of participants said they'd faked it at least once, up from the 17 percent the annual survey yielded in 2010, but those surveys weren't peer-reviewed academic research.
Still, his observations do raise an interesting question: If this book ends up resonating with large numbers of men, if more men admit to faking it, how will that affect sex? Women are already known to have plenty of their own insecurities around sex -- feeling like you may not be pleasing your partner as much as you thought can't help. And if lots of men are faking it, will they now be subject to endless articles about whether or not to fake it, why they should "never, ever do it again" and on and on? Thoughts?
Click over to Salon for more of Clark-Flory's interview with Morgentaler, including his views on gay male sexual dynamics and why he won't actually say how men fake it.
Related on HuffPost:
Women Will Want Sex More Than Men
"Women are becoming the gender that wants sex more than men do," Mundy argues. She writes that women's professional success has "unleashed" them sexually, leading them to seek sex more directly and to be open to a greater variety of sexual experience.
Women Will Be Less Interested In Commitment
The best proof of this, Mundy says, is that so many of the women she interviewed can't find men worth committing to. "If sex, for women, were about nothing more than securing commitment, at present there would be very little sex going on, because there are relatively few men worth committing to." Most of the women she talked to, she writes, "wanted to delay commitment. And the could. They didn't have to get married right away because they didn't need a provider."
Men Will Be More Likely To Withhold Sex
Mundy argues that men whose wives and girlfriends out-earned them are less interested in sex with those women, for a variety of possible reasons, including a loss of intimacy caused by the man's resentment or sexual dysfunction that results from feeling inferior. The consequence, Mundy says, is that, "Just as women are said to do, men in some cases withheld sex, strategically, as a way of exerting what power they felt they still had."
Women Will Have Sex With As Many Men As Possible
Mundy writes that the younger women she interviewed were having a lot of sex, "for the purpose of maximum exploration." In general the women she interviewed were having sex "because they enjoyed it; because it was available; and because -- far from being anxious to commit to one man, they wanted to have sex with as many men as they could, to see who was best at it ... One woman actually referred to this as 'test-driving a lot of cars before you buy one,'" she reports.
Women Will Be More Critical Of Men's Appearances
"Women are responding to their wealth and independence by getting pickier about the appearance of the men they have sex with. The old wealth-beauty tradeoff may be reversing: Increasingly men may be the ones offering beauty -- and sexual service -- in return for the economic security women offer," Mundy writes.
Women Will Refuse To Change Their Own Appearances For Men
Mundy writes that many of the women she talked to were well-groomed but "united in the feeling that, as the entrepreneur put it, 'this is as good as it gets.' If a lover requested modification, they felt free to decline."