Forget health clinics and gyms. Sex is the best cure. One good night of sex and your problems are gone. ~ Grace Jones, Model, Singer & Actress
I’m no sex therapist, but I do know a pinch about relationships. What to do when one of us wants to get going, but the other is disinterested?
When this question recently came up, I thought to put myself in the shoes of both persons in the troubled union. Is it simply a phase or is there something else going on behind the scenes?
Many of us have heard that women reach their sexual peak later than men. Us around 35ish, the boys at 18ish. Whether you buy into the theory or not, it’s clear there’s a difference in one’s appetite.
One thing is certain, sexual desire discrepancy (SDD) is real. Addressing it, rather than ignoring it, is a step in the proactive direction.
It’s normal to not want to have sex — at least sometimes. You could be tired, have your mind occupied elsewhere, or your partner might be going through their own dry spell.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to approach it with honesty. And to feel safe enough to share your vulnerabilities.
As noted in this Very Well Mind article:
Unless both partners are willing to engage in honest and open communication, any discussion about the lack of sex may trigger feelings of guilt, anger, blame, or embarrassment, setting back rather than advancing a solution.
While it may seem like a piece of cake to give advice on coming clean about what’s going on, it’s still a touchy subject. How to go about having “the talk” can be tricky. Unblush offers a few tips on the low libido topic:
- Location is important. While you’re both in bed might seem obvious, but can also be a not-so-safe space. This could put either one of you on the defensive.
- The blame game: Being mindful of your partner, it’s best to avoid pointing fingers. Discussing fault likely creates distance between the parties.
- Relaxation — when we’re in a rested, calm state we tend to react more reasonably in difficult situations.
The Causes of SDD
Among the myriad reasons for a low sex drive, it’s key to understand the issue is not just a “man” or “woman” problem.
To take a further peek at SDD, an article reviewed by sex therapist, Dr. Katherine Hertlein offers the definition:
In the most simple terms, sexual desire discrepancy is when two partners do not share the same levels of sex drive or libido, or it can mean they do not share the same desires, interests, or kinks. This also needs to have been a problem for six months or more, and be causing significant distress in the relationship. If you have similar needs and those are met, you’re fine!
If you have different needs but you’re both ok with it, also fine! Sexual compatibility is not a fixed concept. People are constantly changing, and with them, so are their libido levels and desires. Certain life events, hormone changes, or behavioral changes can cause changes in a couple’s sexual compatibility.
But what about when you’re “not fine” and are needing to know the reasons for low sex drive? Scotland’s national health information service, NHS provides a few possible causes, in their article on Loss of Libido:
- Depression — more than “feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short while,” depression is serious. And it can certainly impact one’s sex drive. In addition, if medication is involved, that too can be a significant player in the situation.
- Relationship problems — is the union a stable one? Is the trouble one of “performance” or is there something else at play? NHS indicates the couple might consider “psychosexual counseling. This is a form of relationship therapy where you and your partner can discuss any sexual or emotional issues that may be contributing to your loss of libido.”
- Medication — certain prescriptions can interfere with sexual desire: “diuretics, SSRI antidepressants, high-blood pressure medication” to name a few. Check with your doctor to inquire if there’s a link between the pills you’re taking and your interest in sex.
- Age factor — NHS offers further insight here: “many people lose some interest in sex as they get older, mainly as a result of falling levels of sex hormones, age-related health problems, or the side effects of medication. Older men especially can develop low testosterone levels, which can cause fatigue, depression, and a reduced sex drive.” Again, a visit to your doctor could shed light and ways to alleviate the trouble.
- Menopause — In women at this phase in their lives, hormonal levels fall — affecting their libido. Says NHS “Women can also suffer from low testosterone levels, especially after a hysterectomy. Testosterone is another hormone that can affect sex drive.” Speak with your physician to find out what options might be available.
As I stated at the beginning, I’m no sex therapist. The issue is a serious one and requires attention (unless all parties involved are OK with the situation and are in a healthy relationship).
This medically reviewed Medical News Today article advises a few considerations:
- Manage anxiety — reducing stress factors can help boost overall mental health
- Get sleep — this can improve a person’s overall mood and energy levels, and some research also links sleep quality to libido
- Regular exercise —eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help achieve this, as well as boost a person’s overall energy levels
- Quit smoking — smoking cigarettes can have a negative impact on a person’s cardiovascular system; optimal heart health is important for good sexual functioning
- Focus on foreplay — Having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse.
There is no cut-and-dry answer. I certainly don’t have one, but it seems obvious that talking it out, figuring out what’s behind the low libido, and (if necessary) seeking professional advice are all steps in the right direction.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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