One of the most common subjects I’m asked about as a sex therapist is sex drive. People want to know how they can increase it, and just what the heck is going on when their sex drive has suddenly vanished. So if you’re sitting there right now thinking, “my sex drive has disappeared – please tell me what I can do about it!” – this one’s for you.
We usually think of libido as a basic hormonal drive. But libido is actually a lot more complicated than that. It consists of and is affected by biological, psychological, relational and cultural factors.
This basically means your sex drive is about a whole lot more than your raging hormones (or the lack thereof!).
It’s also affected by things like:
- how you feel on a day to day basis,
- your environment,
- how you feel about your partner (if you’re in a relationship).
Even ideas such as how you think sexual desire is meant to work in a long-term relationship, how ”real” men or ”real” women should act, or what you’re meant to get off to, can affect your sex drive negatively.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW WHY YOUR LIBIDO IS GONE – TO GET IT BACK
When you lose your sexual spark it can be a cause for concern. Perhaps you worry you’ve fallen out of love or that there’s something very wrong with you.
You might even worry your partner will leave you if you don’t get your sex drive back.
“Because of the distress this causes, it’s common to focus all of your attention on how to get your libido back, before you even truly understand why it’s gone in the first place. But if you don’t know why your appetite for sex is gone – you can’t know what you need to ignite it again”
This usually leads you to testing all kinds of things – perhaps something you overheard in a podcast or a strategy your best friend implored that worked really well.
A common strategy to try is to schedule sex.
And for some, this is exactly what is needed to get their mojo back. But for others – it can turn an already low libido into a non-existent one.
“Knowing you’re meant to have sex on a Wednesday at nine-thirty in the evening can make sex feel like a stressful chore. And when you feel pressured to go through with it, it impedes your libido – which was the exact opposite of the goal you had in mind! ”
HOW YOU CAN GET YOUR SEX DRIVE BACK
When you understand why your libido is low – you’ll also know which areas you need to work on to increase your desire and will spare yourself the heartache of trying and failing.
To gauge what’s going on and why your libido is low, use the prompts below.
My hope is they’ll answer your questions and you won’t have to google “my sex drive has disappeared” at three o’clock in the morning again any time soon.
1. How long have you been experiencing low libido?
Has your libido been low for a few weeks, or is this a long-term thing, spanning months or even years?
Have there been any major life changes that could have impacted your desire negatively? For example:
- You’ve started medicating for depression and/or anxiety
- You lead a stressful life
- You feel less attractive/unattractive
- You feel low or depressed
- You and your partner are increasingly more irritable with one another
- You and your partner have stopped touching each other lovingly
2. Does your diminished sexual desire have to do with partner sex and/or masturbation?
If masturbation is something you still engage in regularly it could point to your low libido having to do with your relationship or your partner(s).
On the other hand, masturbation isn’t always a sexual activity.
It can be a way of releasing stress or making it easier to fall asleep.
It can also be a fun, stress-free way of connecting with yourself and living out a fantasy that perhaps your partner or spouse isn’t interested in.
What’s masturbation about for you?
3. Less sex = more pressure.
When you’re wondering “why has my sex drive disappeared”, it’s also important to address stress surrounding sex.
“When you haven’t had sex in a while it’s not uncommon to get stuck in negative thoughts about your desire, your relationship or your partner.”
These thoughts can be triggered when your partner(s) approach you for a hug or wants to give you a kiss in bed.
You might freeze, or try and remove yourself from the situation, because sex is the last thing on your mind.
And you really don’t want to have to say no or pretend to not notice what your partner wants, again.
Negative thoughts or anxiety about sex are, unfortunately, not unusual, and they are often one of the causes of low libido, or a factor that decreases an already low sex drive.
4. You and your partner aren’t talking about sex
As a sex therapist, I regularly address how to talk about sex, no matter what the presenting sexual difficulty is. When your partner wants to have sex more often than you – this can, in and of itself, turn sex into a chore – and a stressful one at that.
Desire discrepancy is completely normal, but if you can’t talk about sex, it can take a toll on your relationship, and lower your sex drive even further.
Conversations about sex can be difficult as sex is such a sensitive subject.
We’re nervous about talking about what we want (or don’t want).
We’re worried we might hurt our partner’s feelings.
We feel shame bringing up the subject because we don’t know when we’ll feel like having sex again.
If this is you, I want you to know you’re not alone. But it’s important to have the conversation anyway, as doing this will help buffer against relationship conflict about sex. And usually – it works out way better than you thought it would.
5. Sometimes we just don’t feel like having sex.
There doesn’t actually have to be anything wrong with you, your partner(s) or your relationship, if you don’t feel like sex.
If you’re fine with not having sex for the time being – perhaps it’s something you don’t have to actively work to change?
If you feel like you definitely should want to have sex more often, try and understand why you feel this way. Is it because your partner wants to have more sex? Or perhaps because all of your friends seem to have an active sex life?
“Ideals about sex and sexuality affect all us deeply, and sometimes they’re the sole reason we feel bad about our low sex drive. Other times our desire to feel more desire again has even deeper roots – such as sex being an important part of our identity or our relationship(s)”
Sex can make you feel more alive – more passionate about life.
Sex can be the glue that holds you and your partner together.
Sex can be a beautiful way of coming together at the end of a long, hard day, and solidify your commitment and love to one another.
Whatever sex means to you, by having answered the prompts above, you’ll hopefully have some of the answer to the question of “why has my sex drive disappeared?”.