Man – an all-round lothario always out for some sexual adventure. Woman – meek, mild to sexual tension, slow to amorous stimuli and subdued in demeanor.
These are the beliefs, according to Dr Esther Wanjohi, a specialist on women and reproductive health at Nairobi Hospital, society has perpetuated for ages.
Reality is not so much different this general understanding on men and women's sexuality.
It is true, that on average, a man could have s*x at 9 o'clock in the night and still wake his wife up by mid-night for more romp. At daybreak he could casually clear a cup of tea then nudge his partner to bed a starter pack. Women on the other hand are not as forthright towards sex.
One survey out of Florida State University found that men have more spontaneous sexual arousal and more frequent and varied fantasies than women.
The survey also reported that more men think about sex at least once a day, compared to only 25 per cent of women who have similar steady stream of naughty thoughts.
However, Dr Wanjohi says, while these findings corroborate the true state of affairs, it would be false to conclude that women have less libido compared to men.
She says: “Women should be able to exhibit just as much interest in sex as men. However, so many factors play out in a woman's life, making her less responsive to sex.”
A woman's sex drive is frequently impacted by legitimate social, psychological, medical or biological issues.
“If a husband is not bringing home food for the family it affects a woman. If she works and comes home tired it affects her. If she does not feel healthy it affects her. If she does not feel loved it affects her,” Dr Wanjohi says.
Under optimum circumstances, she says, a woman should have the same libido – if not more – as a man.
Unlike men, she adds, women put meaning to sex. Women, she says, feel emotionally attached through sex, a factor that contributes to their 'low libido'.
The society, she fears, has preferred certain stereotypes, making normal for men to feel that they should want sex all the time, while women should wait to be wooed and respond to sex hesitantly.
Dr Wanjohi states that sex is controlled by the mind. Therefore, if a woman wanted to increase their libido, the secret would be in distressing and maintaining a healthy body, mind and soul.
However, she says, a wife should not feel compelled to have sex with a husband if she is not in the right frame of mind.
“If she consents – even without being ready – then it wouldn't qualify as rape. It is however advisable that she feels ready and prepared for the intercourse,” she says.