Presentation on theme: "Life-Span Sexual Development Early Infancy (Ages 0-1) Early Childhood (Ages 2-6) The Initial School-age Years (Ages 7-11) Puberty (Ages 7-15) "— Presentation transcript:
Life-Span Sexual Development Early Infancy (Ages 0-1) Early Childhood (Ages 2-6) The Initial School-age Years (Ages 7-11) Puberty (Ages 7-15) Adolescence (Ages 13-17) Young Adulthood (Aged 26-36) Middle Age (Ages 40-59) The Elderly Years (Age 60+)
Early Infancy (Ages 0-1) Many physicians and psychologists strongly encourage parents to hold their babies immediately after birth and to continue to give large amounts of hugging and cuddling throughout childhood. This process is called bonding.
As soon as infants gain sufficient control over their movements, they begin to touch all parts of their bodies. As part of this exploration, infants also touch their genitals. Infant boys and girls can feel pleasure from this and may continue to stimulate themselves. However, it is important to remember that infants do not comprehend adult sexual behavior.
Early Childhood (Ages 2-6) This means that they cannot consider other people’s points of view. Egocentric children do not play games together, because most play requires cooperation, and cooperation in turn requires respecting or anticipating someone else’s point of view. Bodily exploration during this time is confined mainly to self-exploration. After the age of 2, however, children increasingly play together, and their natural curiosity now extends not only to their own bodies but to those of others.
Sexual exploration games will not harm a child’s development. What may be harmful is parents reacting to strongly when they “catch” their children engaging in sex play. Punishment or negative messages may lead to a poor body image and later sexual problems. It is okay to teach your children that it is not appropriate to touch their genitals in certain situations; in public, for example. According to one child expert, “The attitude of the parent should be to socialize for privacy rather than to punish or forbid.”
“From the earliest period in life, the child’s family will reciprocally influence the sexual characteristics of the child. The family establishes a ‘psychosexual equilibrium’ that is a function of the parents’ sexual adjustment, the child’s developing sexuality, and the impact of the child’s sexual development on parental sexual development.” The way parents react to the sexuality of their children is often an indication of the way they feel about their own sexuality.
The Initial School-age Years (Ages 7-11) By the time children begin kindergarten or first grade, children generally have developed a sense of modesty and inhibition about undressing in front of others and for the first time may start demanding privacy in the bathroom. Several recent studies of recollections by adults recalled sexual interactions with other children prior to puberty. This included exposing oneself for others, looking at others, touching, fondling, and various sexual games.
Children tend to segregate by sex by age 9. Contrary to our culture’s expectations, there is an abundance of evidence that sexuality develops steadily throughout childhood.
Puberty (Ages 7-15) Traditionally, the physical and sexual changes that occur during puberty have been attributed to the maturation of the testicles or ovaries. However, puberty is at least a two-part maturational process. In the first part, the adrenal glands start to mature when children are between the ages of 6 and 8. The adrenal glands secrete the androgen hormone DHEA which is then converted to testosterone and estrogen. Thus, the first increase in sex hormones is not due to the maturing gonads, but to the maturing adrenals. Notice that at this stage girls as well as boys experience an increase in androgens.
In the second stage, the testicles and ovaries mature, usually several years after adrenarche. In this stage, the pituitary gland begins to secrete FSH in high doses, stimulating the production of sperm in seminiferous tubules in boys and the maturation of ova in girls. In girls, the maturing ovary produces estrogen and progesterone, while increased levels of luteinizing hormone from a boy’s pituitary stimulates production of testosterone in the testes. The increased levels of hormones lead to a variety of physiological changes in girls and boys.
These are often referred to as secondary sex characteristics. –Changes in Girls Usually the first sign that puberty is beginning in girls is the development of breast buds. Soon afterwards, a growth spurt starts. Puberty may be a process that takes several years.
The vagina and uterus begin to enlarge about the time that pubic hair appears. The first menstrual period occurs at an average age of between 12 and 13. There is considerable variability, however, and it is normal for the cycles to be very irregular during the first couple of years after menarche. The rise in estrogen levels causes the vaginal wall to become thicker and more elastic and also results in lubrication during sexual arousal.
The reaction of a young woman to her first menstrual cycle will be influenced primarily by what she has been told. It can be viewed as something very positive, “a simple fact of nature,” or “a curse” and something disgusting.
–Changes in Boys As mentioned earlier, pubertal development in boys lags about 2 years behind development in girls. The first noticeable change in boys is usually growth of the testicles and scrotum, the result of increased levels of testosterone. Testosterone then stimulates growth of the penis, prostate gland, and seminal vesicles. The growth of the genitals begins, on average, about the age of 11 to 12 and is completed, on average, by about the age of 15. Boys generally become capable of ejaculation about a year after the penis begins to grow.
The first experience many boys have with ejaculation is a nocturnal emission, or “wet dream.” Some boys have nocturnal emissions frequently, while others have only a few experiences. Nocturnal emissions are not under voluntary control, there is no reason for shame. It is therefore important to educate children about nocturnal emissions before they begin to occur.
Gynecomastia usually disappears by the mid- teens, but unless boys are told why this is happening and that it is a normal, temporary condition, they may feel confused, embarrassed, or shamed.
Another change that is obvious to others is a deepening of the voice, a result of testosterone stimulating the growth of the larynx. This occurs today at an average age of about 12 to 13, but it may have occurred at a later age in past centuries. It was not uncommon in Europe at one time for boys who sang in the great church choirs to be castrated before puberty in order to preserve their soprano voices.
–Precocious and Delayed Puberty When sexual development begins before the age of 8 in girls and 9 in boys, it is called precocious puberty. This is often due to premature activation of pituitary hormones. The youngest girl known to have given birth was only 5 years old.
Studies have found that children’s first sexual attraction occurs at age 10, about the fourth or fifth grade. By age 13, the sexual exploration games commonly played by young teens have greater erotic content than the games of early childhood.
Adolescence (Ages 13-17) –Masturbation For most people, the first experience with orgasm occurs during masturbation. Most adults have masturbated and started doing so during adolescence. This is truer for men than women, but there seems to be a trend indicating that more women also are masturbating to orgasm during adolescence.
Many sex therapists believe that masturbation serves important functions in adolescence. Because sexual activity among adolescents is not condoned in our society, masturbation can serve as an outlet for sexual tensions. Masturbation also can serve as a way to sexually experiment, gain sexual self-confidence, and control sexual impulses. Kinsey thought that masturbation to orgasm was especially important for girls. He felt that familiarity with orgasm during masturbation made it easier for them to experience orgasm during intercourse as adults.
–Sexual Intercourse About one-fourth of teenage girls who engage in their first experience of sexual intercourse say that they did not really want to engage in it. This was particularly true when first intercourse was with a much older partner. Parental involvement also plays a role. The quality of the communication between parents and teenage children is positively related to the teenagers’ values about sexual abstinence.
–Peer Pressure Peer pressure is your peer group’s expectations of how you are supposed to behave. “Many groups want to take credit for the drop in teenage pregnancy, but the credit truly goes to teenagers,” said Jacqueline Darroch. The reasoning is that when fewer teens engage in sexual intercourse, they set examples for close friends.
Emerging Adulthood (Ages 18-25) The median age at which people first get married today is 25 for women and 27 for men. This is an increase of more than 2 years of age since 1980 and more than 4 years since 1960. By the age of 20, approximately 90% of emerging adults are sexually experienced and having sex regularly, and most emerging adults have had multiple serial sexual partners during their short lifetimes.
Thus, for many emerging adults, their sexual life style can be called serial monogamy—a series of relationships in which sex is reserved for just on other person. The period of emerging adulthood is also a time in which most people gradually become less influenced by peer pressure and gain a better understanding of their own sexual motivations. By the end of this stage, individuals have generally established cognitive views about sexual aspects of themselves.
Young Adulthood (Aged 26-36) –Marriage Numerous studies have found that adults who get and stay married have higher levels of psychological well-being than individuals who stay single. The frequency of sexual intercourse in the first year of marriage is usually high, an average of about 15 times a month in the first year.
The decrease in sexual relations after the first year or two of marriage occurs for a variety of reasons. Sex has to compete with other time demands, such as career advancement. Parenthood means less privacy and more demands, and often results in exhaustion at the end of the day. –Living Together Nearly half of all American women aged 25 to 39 years old have cohabited with a man outside of marriage at some time in their lives. About one- fourth of unmarried women aged 25 to 39 are currently cohabitating.
–Single Parenthood About 25% of white children and 65% of black children lived with a single parent. Some adults become single parents through divorce or separation, but nearly 25% of never-married women are also mothers.
–Extramarital Sex—In Supposedly Monogamous Marriages “That’s a male definition of adultery. If you look at emotional involvement and sexual involvement short of intercourse, you add another 20%.” Whereas men may have solely sexual affairs, women’s affairs are almost always emotional or a combination of sexual and emotional. It is not uncommon for married persons to have emotional affairs over the telephone or on the Internet.
Men are more upset at the idea of their partner’s getting physical with someone else than they are about an emotional attachment. Women, on the other hand, are more concerned about emotional infidelity on the part of their mates and are much more likely than men to forgive a partner for sexual infidelity. –Extramarital Sex—Consensual Arrangements One such arrangement is open marriage, where both partners agree that it is okay to have sex with others.
Middle Age (Ages 40-59) Christian and Victorian views of sex emphasized that sex within a marriage was for procreation only, and excluded sexual activities for pleasure. Thus, Western culture came to view older individuals who were no longer able to conceive as asexual. “Many parents may appear to be nonsexual because they hesitate to discuss the topic of sexuality in any way with their children or because they are not inclined to exhibit loving, affectionate responses, let alone sexual behavior, in the presence of their children.”
–Frequency of Sexual Intercourse The baby-boomer generation is now in their 50s and, having been raised during the sexual revolution, they do not accept the old stereotypes of aging and sexuality. Although most surveys do show a decline in sexual activity for people in their 40s and a further decline in the 50s, the drop-off is very gradual.
Relationship quality is high when there is emotional intimacy, there is some independence without too much distance, and stress is under control. There must also be a sexual equilibrium, “a balance of sexual capacities between two people and their perceptions of those capacities.”
–Loss of a Mate By Divorce or Death Over half of all marriages in the United States now end in divorce. According to the 2000 census, 40% of Americans aged 45 or older are single. Reentry into the singles world and dating are often difficult, particularly if a prior relationship had been a long-lasting one. Resuming sexual activity is often an important part of letting go of the former bonds. However, more recent studies have found that three fourths of divorced persons have either a single sexual partner or no partner in the first year By the time people reach their early 40s, there are over 200 single women for every 100 single men.
–Female Sexuality: Physical Changes With Age Four-fifths of women experience menopause between 44 and 55, with a median age of 50 to 52. How a woman and her partner react to these changes can affect other aspects of a relationship, so it is important for everyone to understand their physical basis. The Rise and Fall of the Medicalization of Menopause. Postmenopausal women have become a large segment of society that seeks health care, or, depending on your perspective, that is targeted by health care professionals.
Medicalization refers to “the process whereby the normal processes of pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation and menopause have been claimed and redefined by medicine.” Opponents of the medicalization of menopause claim that the negative expectations of deteriorating health are the result of culturally determined attitudes, promotions by drug companies, and media pressure, and point out that older women in our country are already healthier than older men and outlive men by many years.
Let us examine the evidence. There is no question that hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause such as vasomotor symptoms and vaginal atrophy symptoms. For women who show a drop in sexual desire, testosterone replacement therapy helps many.
–Female Sexual: Behavior For most women, menopause causes no change in interest in sex. Some women actually show an increased interest in sex after menopause, possible because they no longer have to worry about getting pregnant. The best predictor of sexual activity for middle- aged women is their sexual activity when younger. Positive personal attitudes about sexuality and past positive experiences regarding the importance of sex are important determinants of sexual functioning in aging women.
–Male Sexuality: Physical Changes With Age Men normally do not experience a sudden loss of hormones as experienced by women. Although the term male menopause is commonly used, this generally refers to the midlife psychological and emotional reactions that some men have as a response to changing family relationships. Men do show a gradual decline in testosterone levels that begins in their late teens. By age 55, 20 to 50% of men have testosterone levels that are below the normal range for young adult men.
If the drop in testosterone is large enough, it will also affect a man’s interest in sex. The production of sperm continues into old age, but it, too, declines after age 40. Nevertheless, many men in their 70s and 80s have fathered children.
The Elderly Years (Age 60+) Sex is something enjoyed only by the young and healthy: MYTH. A sexually active man is seen as a ‘dirty old man’ and a sexually active older woman is considered preposterous or embarrassing. This culturally embedded denial may be rooted in people’s difficulty accepting the sexuality of their own parents.
Among people in their 60s who have partners, over 70% are having sex regularly. Over 50% of them have sexual intercourse at least once a week. In their 70s, about one third of men and women with partners are having sexual intercourse at least once a week. In their 80s, only about one fourth of men and women are having sex at least once a month.
“Older women frequently express strong sexual desires and interests,…engage in sexual activity in many instances until extreme old age,…and may form liaisons with much younger men.” “The older population really has the better deal. This is a time when people have the best sex in their lives, and it all has to do with maturity.” Thus, for women, there is a real “partner gap.” Many women may be interested in sex, but there is no opportunity.
However, many people experience serious medical problems and disabilities as they grow older. Heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, prostate problems, and problems due to alcohol, smoking, and overeating are common. The third major factor preventing some elderly people from enjoying sexual relations is the opportunity for privacy when one is dependent on others for care. However, opportunities for sexual relations are very limited for elderly people with disabilities who are dependent on others for their care.
Perhaps the biggest problem for elderly people interested in physical relations is our culture’s negative stereotypes of the aged as sexless.