You try to beat your partner to bed so that you are sleeping before he or she hits the hay. Or, on the flip side, you come up with reasons to stay up late so that your partner is zonked out before you? Of course, there is the whole, “I have a headache” scenario, too.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t get down. There really may be legitimate reasons why your libido is taking a nosedive. Once you know that, you can get to work fixing it!
Many women experience a low sex drive, according to relationship experts. We talked to Dr. Fran Walfish, Psy.D, a relationship and intimacy expert and author of The Self-Aware Parent, as well as Dr. Gino Tutera, MD, FACOG,OB/GYN, to find out what some of the causes are and what you can do to reignite the spark in the bedroom.
Getting to the source
The first thing you need to do is rule out whether this is a medical or hormonal problem, recommends Dr. Walfish. Have a full exam with your OB/GYN, including a full-panel blood test to check your hormone levels.
Dr. Tutera, who specializes in menopause, specifically points to testosterone, the hormone that influences our sex drive. “If your testosterone level is low, your desire to have sex will be too.” If your blood test results reveal this, ask your doctor about the treatments available to you.
If your doctor can’t identify a medical explanation, then ask yourself whether you’ve always had a low libido or if there’s been a sudden or gradual onset, suggests Dr. Walfish. If your sex drive was once generally higher than it is nowadays, the chances of getting your libido back up to that point are greater. Never having experienced a higher sex drive is more unusual, but definitely NOT hopeless. No matter which category you fall under, you still have some digging to do.
Make room for memories
Is your past flooded with negative messages about sexuality and/or pleasuring yourself?
It’s hard to distance yourself from the messages that surrounded your formative years, especially on a topic that many people have strong views on. What did your parents, teachers, or other role models tell you about sex? Was it not talked about? Was it shameful? Was it natural? Try to understand how your upbringing influenced your perception of sex. It could be having a more lasting impact on you than you think.
Dr. Walfish says she can tell a lot from her patients by their reactions to questions about their sexual history (e.g. their bodies become tense or visibly uncomfortable when sex is being discussed). “Some women don’t know that they’re allowed to (and supposed to) enjoy sex just as much as their partner does,” says Dr. Walfish. If this is the case, talking to a therapist can help you feel more comfortable with your body and sexual activity.
Maybe you’re just not that into him
When your sex drive is at its lowest, it can be a sure sign that you’re with the wrong partner, according to Dr. Walfish.
Are the people you’re selecting for sexual partners narcissistic, selfish, or even abusive? This can take a toll on your self-esteem, confidence, and the way you view sex within your partnership. For example, if a man doesn’t make you feel like you’re special to him, you may constantly fear that you aren’t measuring up to his past sexual partners—having that on the brain is a buzz kill for anyone!
Even if your partner makes you feel good about yourself, he may just not be addressing your physical needs. Communicating what you want in bed is a difficult thing for many women, but the rewards are endless. Talk to someone you trust about how they communicate instructions in bed — and take notes!
Dr. Tutera contends that the primary cause for low libido in young women, assuming a hormonal reason has been ruled out, is stress. It makes sense; no one is going to have dirty thoughts running through their mind if there’s no room
If you think this might be the cause of your low sex drive, try addressing the stress issue first and separately. As you start de-stressing methods that work for you, see how your sexual desires change.
“The bottom line is that everyone has a right to personal happiness and sexual pleasure,” says Dr. Walfish. When it comes to experiencing low libido, she emphasizes that you’re not alone so have no shame.
Dr. Tutera echoes Walfish’s sentiments: “Women should never be embarrassed or scared of their low sex drive.” Be proactive in bettering your sex life by talking to your doctors.
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