Author: Dr. Jaqueline Brendler.

1. Gynecologist and Obstetrician for the Federal Council of Medicine and for FEBRASGO* (The Brazilian Federal Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics ) .
2. Qualified in the practice of sexual therapy by SBRASH** ( The Brazilian Society of Studies in Human Sexuality) .
3. Vice-President of the South Region of SBRASH** from 1999 -2003.
4. Member of the National Commission of FEBRASGO* Specialized in Sexology from 1998 -2001.
5. Coordinator of the nucleus of sexology SOGIRGS/FEBRASGO* from 1995-2002.

Published by SEXOLOGIES - Revue Europénne de Sexologie Médicale / European Journal of Medical Sexology Octobre-DECEMBRE 2001 VOL X- N° 38 , 10-16.
Eletronics adress:

Dysfunctional sexuality may be related to many factors. It could involve only a dysfunctional person but also could be related to the sexuality of the partner or a dynamic of the relationship. In this study, sexually dysfunctional women were analyzed for a period of their lives when they were unfaithful or, rather, here there is the fourth factor. Still today, women are educated in a different way from men mainly in what is referred to as sexuality. They are taught to associate sex with affection. What is the association of sex and affection like when dysfunctional women betray? Is affection a prerequisite for extramarital sex to occur? This study analyses the official couples, the types of extramarital relations, the main feelings in relation to the lover and female sexuality.


Infidelity is a complex topic. Female infidels tend to be more emotionally dissatisfied in their marriages, seeking emotional fulfillment outside, whereas men tend to be happier overall in their marriages, seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere (3) .The majority of literature about infidelity discusses the motivation of the person who was unfaithful and repercussions of affairs on the faithful partner (2,3) as well as the impact on the continuity of marriage (1). The frequency with which infidelity occurs in the population varies from 22.7 % to 11.6 % respectively for men and women (4). Rarer still are the studies about the of sexuality of women who are unfaithful and about feelings in relation to lovers. Are the majority of these women able to have sex without becoming emotionally involved? Does affective involvement with the lovers help unfaithful, dysfunctional women to become sexually healthy? This small sample could serve as a basis for future research.


To describe and to discuss female sexuality, the official bond and the extramarital relationship, in 11% of women who were unfaithful in a sample of 200 consecutively dysfunctional women who related, of their own free will, their infidelity during sexual therapy.


During sex therapy, the couple made one or two individual appointments at the beginning of the treatment. The objective of these appointments was to provide the necessary privacy to understand important individual aspects of: infancy; adolescence; their lives previous to the present relationship as well as individual perceptions of this relationship. The revelations of infidelity were spontaneous, made in the absence of the official partner and were dealt with during these one or two individual sessions.

They revealed infidelity as there had been vaginal intercourse, or at least the tentative, with an out of marriage partner. These dysfunctional women were analyzed on retrospective evaluation of their sexuality before and during infidelity. The main objective of these couples was to solve the sexuality dysfunction.


The type of sexual dysfunction that led to sex therapy was hypoactive sexual desire and situational orgasmic disorder in 31.82 %, primary orgasmic disorder in 27.27%, secondary orgasmic disorder and coital type disorder in 4.55%.

The average age of these dysfunctional women was 34, varying from 21 to 49.

Regarding level of education, 40.91 % had attended and completed university, 27.27% had attended but not completed university and the same percent had finished secondary education. Only 4.54 % had not completed primary education. Regarding occupation, 59.09 % worked outside home. The index of 18.18% was encompassed by a group who both worked and studied while those who were housewives also made up 18.18%. 4.55% only studied.

Sexual initiation occurred on average at 18 years of age. As for the number of living children, 50% were childless, 36.36% had two children, 9.09% had one child and 4.55% had three children.

In relation to the official partner, the average age was 38, varying from 23 to 52. 59.09% of them did not have a sexual dysfunction, although 22.73% of them had premature ejaculation, 13.64% erection dysfunction and 4.55% delayed ejaculation.

The average duration of the official relationship was 11 years, varying from 3 to 360 months.

The official partners in 63.64% were unaware of the infidelity. 36.36 % of them were consciously aware, as 18.18% of the women spoke of it as a weapon or when forced to and 13.64% had discovered from another source, while 4.55% deduced it for themselves through partner behavior. 27.27% of the women revealed that they were conscious that their official partner had been unfaithful before their own infidelity although many more of the women were suspicious of this.

Following the perception of these women, the dyadic relationship was full of conflict in 86.6% before the infidelity occurred. Their motives for the existence of the marital conflict were:

1. Disapproval of non sexual behavior of the official partner: immature bond with the family of origin; authoritarian way of dealing with money and their power over the women; lack of personal growth; little demonstration of affection; difficulty in dealing with the woman's higher income, provocation of fights between the couple, being humiliated, repeated explicit verbal complaints about her sexual dysfunction; lack of commitment to the relationship; late arrival at home; going out alone and being unfaithful.

2. Dissatisfaction in relation to their partner's sexuality: going beyond simple sexual performance including few caresses before and during coitus; sexual inexperience; sexual shyness; 'conservatism' in sex; disapproval and criticism of her sexual innovations.

Associated with this previous couple conflict, the fact that the women had started and lived intensively for a period of time an extramarital relationship made them question greatly their official relationship, which, in 57.89%, made this official relationship more difficult. In only 13.63%, were the infidelity and its consequences the main cause of the worsening of the marital link as, in these couples, there had previously been a good dyadic relationship.

They related three kinds of extramarital relationships, the long duration, an affair of long duration and other episodes of infidelity of short duration and an minority mention only affairs of short duration. 72.72% of the women related that the infidelity consisted of affairs of long duration, the average of this kind of infidelity being 10 months, varying from 6 to 60 months. Having one affair of long duration was reported by 86.36%, having two affairs, by 9.09%, and three affairs, by 4.55%. Another 22.72% mentioned an affair of long duration and other episodes of infidelity of short duration, in which the desire for sex predominated. In relation to the infidelity of short duration, three women had one partner; one woman had three partners and another, four partners.

59.09% of them mentioned that the most important feeling in relation to the lover was passion, 18.18%, attraction or sexual desire, 9.09% of them felt attraction and wanted to "test" their sexuality and the others felt obsession predominated; 4.55% spoke of curiosity and attraction.

86.36 % of the lovers were sexually healthy, two were single and 81.82 % of the lovers were attached. 22.73%of the non-official partners were work colleagues or acquaintances; 13.64% were doctors; 9.09% were friends and colleagues from school or university; 4.55% included a neighbor, an ex-boyfriend; a member of the same club; a homosexual friend and another (undisclosed).

63.64% of women disclosed that the sexual dysfunction persisted with their lovers and 36.36% were sexually healthy.

Did women use contraception with lovers? Definitely contraception was not used by eight women. About the motivation for not using it, three women did not use it and did not give the cause, one woman had a woman as a lover, and one did not use it because her husband had had a vasectomy and one was 49 years old. Two got pregnant by the lovers.


The objective of this research is to discuss if there was a change or not in the sexuality of these women during the extramarital relationship and, in this way, evaluate the personal, interpersonal and interrelational factors.

The main reason for consulting a sex therapist was the sexuality dysfunction and not the unfaithfulness. 14.2 % was the average rate extramarital sex related by Wiederman for women in their thirties (4) and in dysfunctional women the incidence of infidelity was 11%. Are women who had a sexual dysfunction more faithful than American women that participated in a National Survey in EUA? Did the low self- esteem contribute to for the lower rate found in dysfunctional sexual women?

In all of the 22 women the marriage was maintained in spite of 36.36% of the official partners having conscious knowledge of the betrayal. The impact of infidelity on the continuation of the marriage cannot be evaluated at the time of therapy, as the couples whose relationship broke up do not make up part of this sample. The partner's conscious knowledge of the infidelity has been shown in another study with the statistic of 89%, this is greater than was found in my study, maybe because the study was made between a practicing therapist, who dealt only with infidelity (1), without distinction between men and women and without including female sexual dysfunction. 27.27% of the women told of being sure of their official partner's previous infidelity although other women suspected that infidelity had occurred. In Wiederman' study of men and women under the age of 40, there was no gender difference in likelihood of reporting lifetime experience with extramarital sex and the rate for men in their thirties was 14.3% (4) which is lower than related by dysfunctional women about their official partners. Are Brazilian partners who are attached to dysfunctional women more unfaithful than American men? Is the existence of sexual dysfunction in women one cause of men's infidelity? What are the explanations for the higher rate of infidelity in the official Brazilian partner? One answer may be the high incidence of sexual dysfunction in these men. Is the infidelity in Brazilian men motivated by the higher incidence of sexual dysfunction found? This would be a good topic for future research.

Some husbands said that the fact of their having been unfaithful first, minimized their partner's infidelity as it made their actions 'rational'. In their opinion this is a favorable explanation for the continuation of these couple's relationships. As for the remaing 9.09% of the betrayed men who did not admit to having been previously unfaithful, why did they tolerate the infidelity, to the point of allowing the continuity of the couple's relationship? According to the women, a suspected infidelity unconfessed by their partners was denounced by behavior, such as: not accepting a relationship of, on average, 11 years; not introducing them as their wives, or speaking as if they were single; arriving late at home and going out alone late at night.

These dysfunctional women were from a sample of young adults who had received a traditional education in which affection was a prerequisite for sex. The image of sex was linked with sin, dirtiness and suffering, these being repressive values. I am sure the 8 women in this sample did not use contraception with their lovers but it is possible that this number was higher because this is a retrospective study. Another reason is the main objective of the couple during sex therapy was to become sexually healthy and not to discuss infidelity. Two women got pregnant by the lovers and they had abortions. Why did these women not use contraception? Could it be involved with their feelings in relation to their lover?

When we study the type of extramarital relationships that women become involved in, we can verify that the majority of these women had one affair of long duration, which averaged 10 months, varying from 6 to 60 moths. This average duration of sex outside the home speaks in favor of their being affective involvement with the lover. A minority in this sample, 4.55%, had only affairs of short duration, where sex in itself was the main ingredient.

In dysfunctional women, during the practice of sexuality with their lovers, there was not sufficient union of sex and affection to facilitate good sexuality. Not only the main feeling in relation to the lover, but also the sexuality of the lover, were related as being healthier than with the official partner, nevertheless, these factors did not help the majority of the women to improve their dysfunctional sexuality.

In all unofficial relationships, there can be subconscious and conscious feelings of punishment, which boycott the healthy practice of sexuality. What is the probable explanation for these not being spontaneously mentioned by the patients? The infidelity was part of the past of these women, who came to therapy with their official partner to resolve a sexual dysfunction. It is understandable that the feelings which remained most intensely registered in relation to the lovers were the more positive ones, like passion, attraction and sexual desire, which justifies their being the most spoken of.

As feelings in relation to the lover were intense in the majority of the women from this sample, if the female sexuality became healthy with the lover, as happened with 36.36 % of the them, would the course of history between the official link and the clandestine one have been different? 81.82% of the lovers were attached and in many situations the women spoke of perceiving the extramarital partner exclusively in the role of lover, who is good in bed, available for any sexual fantasy and sexually free, thus impeding the formation of an official bond and maybe going towards maintaining the sexual dysfunction. Should we question the sexual roles attributed to official partners and lovers? Are they different if the people are dysfunctional or not?

We should question the reasons for which people, men and women, marry and, for which, they decide to stay together despite infidelity.

A dyadic relationship, which was worn and full of conflict, existed with the official partners, this did not exist with the lovers, and even so, the sexual dysfunction persisted in the majority of women during the practice of extramarital sexuality. If interpersonal and interrelational factors, including the feeling in relation to the official or nonofficial partners, were the most important in the origin of these female sexual dysfunctions, the women would have become sexually healthy with their lovers, as 59.09% disclosed that the main feeling in relation to their lovers was passion and, in 18.18 % attraction and sexual desire.

The important difference between the official partner and the lovers was the incidence of sexual dysfunction found, in the former, 41.01% and in the lovers, 13.64%, combined with the women's complaint of dissatisfaction with the general sexual behavior of their official partners. However, the healthy sexuality of their lovers did not help the majority of these women to overcome their sexual dysfunction.

During sex therapy, the existence of numerous internalized associations related to sex as sin, pain and suffering were dealt with following the school of behavioral cognitism and the system school. The practice of masturbation was taboo in these women. All these negative sexual values, the separation of sex and affection and the internalized role of the lovers, could have contributed so that the personal variables were the most important in the maintenance of sexual dysfunction.


The personal factors involved showed themselves to be more important in the perpetuation of sexual dysfunction than the interpersonal. All these negative sexual values, the separation of sex and affection and the internalized role of the lovers, could have contributed so that the personal variables were the most important in the maintenance of sexual dysfunction because in 63.64% of the women the sexual dysfunction continued with the lovers. Although the variables, which could have motivated in 36.36 % of the women satisfactory sexuality with the lover, deserve to be studied.

In 86.6% the infidelity was not be the initial cause of marital conflict because conflict had existed previously but the betrayal was a factor that helped to make the official bond worse in 57.89 %.

The majority of unfaithful women from this sample, beyond the sexual involvement, had an affective involvement with their lover, as passion was reported by 59.09% of them.

The feelings in relation to the lovers were a pre-requisite for having sex but didn't allow for the pleasurable enjoyment of sexuality.

1. Charny Israel W, Parnass Sivan (1995) The impact of extramarital relationships on the continuation of marriages. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy; 21; 2: 100-115.
2. Levine Stephen B (1998) Extramarital sexual affairs. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy; 24;3: 207-216.
3. Silverstein Judith L ( 1998 )Countertransference in marital therapy for infidelity. Journal of Sex & Marital therapy; 24;4: 293-301.
4. Wiederman Michael W ( 1997 ) Extramarital sex: prevalence and correlates in a National Survey. Journal of Sex Research; 34; 2:167-174.

Todos os direitos reservados - Copyright 2002.
Proibido a reprodução sem autorização ( Inciso I do artigo 29, Lei 9610/98). - Dra. Jaqueline Brendler - (51) 3228.0322