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Dear Ann Landers: I thought there was something wrong with me, until I read the following Associated Press story. It seems a recent study by a distinguished sociologist at the University of Chicago reached this conclusion: Sexual dysfunction is far more widespread than previously believed. More than 40 percent of women and one-third of men have very little interest in sex, are unable to have an orgasm or suffer from some other sexual dysfunction. Surprisingly, sexual problems are highest among younger women, ages 18 to 29. The study also found that high school dropouts are the most likely to have sexual problems. The study's lead author, University of Chicago sociologist Edward Laumann, said he was "stunned" by the results.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the conclusions were based on the findings of the National Health and Social Life Survey. The compilation of interviews conducted covered 1,749 women and 1,410 men. The participants were from 18 to 59 years of age.

I found the article very informative and agreed with everything I read until the article referred, jokingly, to the stereotypical excuse, "Sorry, dear, I have a headache." With that, Dr. Laumann lost me completely. In fact, he made me mad.

Headaches run in my family. As a headache sufferer, I know the anguish that this debilitating problem can cause. Many a night I have accommodated my husband's wish to have sex, even though I had a splitting headache, because I didn't want to use that "excuse." Now we have a respected doctor making fun of it.

I hope you will print my letter, Ann, and let Dr. Laumann know he insulted a great many women.

-- Nameless in Salt Lake City
Dear Nameless: I don't believe the article was "making fun of women." That tired and trite phrase, "Not tonight, dear, I have a headache," was used to make a point. I believe the doctor deserves a pass on this one. Meanwhile, thank you for a letter a great many women will relate to.

Stretching the truth

Dear Ann Landers: I've always wondered, what kind of people look for "companionship" via personal ads? I have never been tempted to answer such an ad, but one in particular caught my attention when it began to sound strangely familiar. Out of curiosity, I called the number specified, and sure enough, it was my ex-husband. Wow! Did I get a laugh out of that! I thought I'd split my sides!

The former Mr. Wonderful described himself in the ad as "handsome and wealthy." Since those attributes could be considered judgment calls, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he lost me when he blatantly lied about his age and physical condition, describing himself as "virile and exuberant" and lopping six years off his age.

That was enough for me to believe what my gut had signaled -- stay away from personal ads. I'm certain there are many honest, decent people who place personal ads, but ordinary, everyday common sense should have told me that a person who is reduced to placing an ad in the paper in order to meet someone must have exhausted all other possibilities and is pretty darned desperate. The bottom line: There are no "bargains" out there.

-- Smarter Now in Florida
Dear Florida: While I basically agree with you, there are exceptions. So I never say never because, too often, I have been proved wrong.

Gem of the day

Kids today know more than adults about computers. It was embarrassing enough when they just knew more about sex.

-- Joe Hickman, Contemporary Comedy
Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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