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Dear Em & Lo: I Have Zero Sex Drive. What’s Wrong with Me?

Wed, May 13, 2009

Advice, Dear Em & Lo

woman_jeans_undiesphoto by Just_SallyRye

Dear Em & Lo,

I’m a 23-year old woman in a relationship with a wonderful guy — we’re celebrating two years together this month. We’re pretty serious about each other, but we have a serious hangup:  I have very little sex drive.  I’m not sure if he’s got an average drive or if he’s got a high drive, but he wants it a lot and I’m not usually wanting any part of it. I don’t think it’s him, because I don’t even want it when I’m not around him. We are close to each other and open, we experiment a lot with toys and have tried just about everything short of heavy bondage and adding in other partners. I just have no drive at all.

Even masturbating, once it’s over, I just think to myself, “Okay, moving on…”  I don’t really enjoy it. I read that having orgasms promotes sexual interest, and so I figured that if I masturbated more, it would jump-start my drive. I mostly masturbate out of a sense of obligation to myself/us, as opposed to my own personal interest.  I could live without it easily.

I climax most of the time we have sex thanks to clitoral stimulation, but I find that sex is fun for five or ten minutes, then I orgasm, and I feel like I could have just as easily used that time for something else (non-sexual).

Lately I’m not even interested in us focusing on me once we’re done with him.  He feels very badly that I don’t pursue my “ends.”

Please give me some advice, because I feel broken inside for this lack of interest.

–Just Not That Into It

Dear J.N.T.I.T.,

We very nearly skipped your question, as we are tempted to do whenever we get a letter that makes our heads hurt. But you sound so nice and you’re clearly trying so hard to do the right thing that we feel obliged to answer — even if we’re not sure that we have a simple answer for you.

One thing we will say is that there are two kinds of desire when it comes to sex: there’s a physical desire to get naked, and then there’s an emotional desire to be close to your partner. You clearly have the emotional desire. And you know what? Maybe that’s all you’ll ever have. Or maybe you’ll feel emotional desire most of the time and once in a blue moon your physical desire will show up.

But that doesn’t mean you’re “broken inside.” To think that way is to take a very male-centric approach to libido. Just because your physical drive doesn’t match your boyfriend’s, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It just means you’re different.

We commend you for being so open to trying new things! You may not think it, but your boyfriend is a lucky guy. That said, we don’t think you should force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel good. But five or ten minutes of fun in bed is nothing to sneeze at — maybe you two should just compromise at regular quickies. Plenty of women are happy with ten minutes of sex at a time, there’s nothing strange about that. In fact, most women who masturbate regularly can climax in just two or three minutes — so don’t get hung up on this idea that you should enjoy hour-long sex sessions. For some people, that’s heaven — and for others, it’s just plain annoying.

There are a million more things we could say on this topic — because it’s not a simple question, and there’s no simple answer. Rather than try to wrap up this letter with a snappy one-liner, we’d like to reprint an article we wrote a few years back for Red magazine in the U.K. It was inspired by an excellent memoir on this very topic called I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido by Joan Sewell. The article begins below — at the very least, we hope it will convince you that you’re not broken inside.

Big love,

Em & Lo

The Libido Cure
by Em & Lo

Can you imagine any of the men you know “working on” their libido? Do they linger in a bubble bath to awaken their nerve endings, do they hit the treadmill to get their juices flowing, do they insist on a backrub to help them warm up to the idea?

Not so much, right? In fact, a strong breeze gets most guys in the mood. So how come it can be such hard work for the rest of us?

According to recent research, 33 percent of American women and 32 of the ladies over here have “low libidos.” Of course, the astute reader will notice that therefore 68% of British women don’t have sagging sex drives (just hope your best friend isn’t one of them when you finally get up the courage to confide your libido woes!). But still, how is it possible that a third of all women experience this so-called sexual dysfunction? Are we that screwed up? Or could it be that what’s really screwed up is our concept of “normal”?

“The gold standard is men, that’s what we’re being measured against”, says Joan Sewell, author of the new memoir I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido. [read an excerpt here] “It’s politically correct to say that we have equal libidos because we want to feel equal to men socially, but anthropologists and socio-biologists all agree that, across all cultures, women have a far lower libido than men.”

Pity the poor woman with a low libido — these days she doesn’t even have cultural stereotypes on her side. Once upon a time it was pretty much assumed that women weren’t as sexual as men, or weren’t even sexual at all. Then along came feminism, the discovery of the clitoris, and decent sex education, all of which gave women permission to embrace their sexuality. But now, thanks in part to shows like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and Footballers’ Wives, having anything less than a hyperactive sex drive is considered, well, kind of uncool. “It’s become a point of pride,” says Sewell. “Women brag about their libidos and talk about men as if they’re consumables, and if you don’t feel that way, you’re branded as inhibited or sour grapes.”

Don’t get us wrong: We think it’s brilliant that women are now comfortable dishing about their sex lives over tea or cosmopolitans. But sometimes all this openness results in inflated expectations that can make sex feel like a competition. And those women who aren’t “winning” may experience a double-dose of anxiety: They worry “How is my partner is coping without a regular roll in the hay?” and they wonder “What the hell’s wrong with me?”

“My libido is really, really low and I hate it,” says Francesca, a 35-year-old mother and business owner who is still head over heels for her husband — but that love just isn’t translating to lust right now. “I feel guilty, not just on my partner’s behalf, but on my own, too, in a way.”

Unfortunately, thinking that you’re somehow defective in bed can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Nothing squashes an already anemic libido quite like diagnosing yourself — based on a particularly moving episode of Oprah, perhaps—as sexually dysfunctional. In other words, if you can’t beat that 32 percent, then join them.

Dr. Patti Britton, PhD, author of The Art of Sex Coaching, thinks we shouldn’t give in so easily. “There’s this trend toward the medicalisation of sexuality,” she says. “The model is: There’s something wrong with you, we can diagnose and name it, and then we can give you a pill or a cream to cure it.” Like Sewell, she believes that our approach to what is normal in the sack is problematically male-based. “We are not bags of raging hormones who are horny around the clock,” she says. “That’s just not how female desire works.”

The traditional model for sex has five phases: desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. And, sure, sometimes it happens in this order for women, especially in a new relationship or after a week apart or a few vodka tonics. But not always — which doesn’t mean these women are out of whack, it just means they have a different natural order.

“Many women need to actually be aroused and move up that scale and feel excitement and maybe even plateau in order for desire to kick in,” Britton explains. “They don’t initially have desire, they have an openness and a willingness, and then, lo and behold, that desire shows up as a desire to continue.” In other words, what looks like low libido might just be a delayed start — and a so-called low libido doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman enjoys sex any less.

In fact, almost every woman we interviewed who claimed to “suffer” from a low libido said that when her partner initiates and she just goes along for the ride, she typically ends up having a good time: “I often have sex when I’m not in the mood,” says Amy, a 39-year-old divorced writer. “But it’s with the full knowledge that the mood will kick in — and it usually does.”

“Women need to understand that they’re not usually going to feel like they’re about to explode in the groin like their male counterparts,” says Britton. “And men need to understand that the reason she doesn’t ever initiate is that she’s not itchy, so she’s not going to scratch it.”

“My husband can never understand how I can happily have sex with him five nights a week, but then if he goes away for two weeks on business, I won’t think about sex once!” says Melanie, a 34-year-old TV researcher who’s been married for two years. “He’ll masturbate every night in his hotel room, and he can’t believe that it never occurs to me to do the same.”

Often, a woman won’t even realise that her partner is the one making all the first moves. We asked a couple who have been married for nine years who typically initiates sex. “It’s about 50-50,” reports the Missus. “Um, it’s actually more like me 90 percent of the time,” says her husband. “Oh!” she replies. “Well, I love it that you’re always asking me to have sex.” In her mind, the ratio is 50-50 because she figures she’s enjoying the sex at least as much as her husband. But no one could blame him for thinking that his sex drive is nine times as powerful as his wife’s.

Of course, waiting for your guy to initiate and then lying back, thinking of England, and hoping for the best is not exactly a proactive (or particularly healthy) way to get what you want in bed. That’s where Britton’s holistic M.E.B.E.S. (Mind, Emotions, Body, Energy, Spirit) approach to sex comes in. Understanding that the libido often manifests itself differently in men and women is only the first step in this plan (“Mind”). Step two, “Emotions,” involves dealing with all the guilt, shame, and fear that are part of the package. The panic can set in: If I don’t lust after him, maybe he’ll turn to someone else who does. “Many times, it’s in her imagination,” says Britton. “If she talks to her partner, those fears are often stilled. He might say, I have no intention of leaving you, I just wish we could have sex a little more often!” And then at least your worst-case scenarios are dismissed. Because giving a blowjob just so your husband’s secretary won’t isn’t exactly the number one way to get in the mood.

“We used to have lots of long chats about our sex life,” says Maggie, a 34-year-old floral designer who got married a few years ago. “It involved lots of crying, hugging, sympathizing and apologizing. Now, we giggle about it and make it part of our daily conversation, like, You know, we haven’t had sex in about a month, and I feel very distant from you these last few weeks, wanna go away for the weekend and reconnect?”

Next comes the all-important “Body” step. A research presentation at the most recent gathering of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality showed that body image is now the single most important component of a woman’s sex drive. “If a woman doesn’t have a good image of herself, she probably has low desire,” says Britton. “It’s almost a correlate you can count on.” So accepting the things you can’t change (aging) and courageously changing the things you can (with decent nutrition and regular exercise) is essential.

But it’s not just a matter of how you feel about your boobs or your belly: It’s what you (or your partner) can (or can’t) do with that body, too. If you think you’re not good in bed or at giving head — or if you know that your partner is skilled at neither — then it’s no wonder you’re not giddily rushing into the bedroom. Britton’s recommendation? Educational DVDs about sex: “Watching people being sexual is the best teacher of all.”

But all the blowjob skills in the world won’t matter if you’re just too tired to get down there (the “Energy” factor). “With email and texts and P.D.A.s, we’re always in demand and on tap,” says Britton. “There’s not a lot of energy left to be sexual.” Her suggestion is to allocate time when you’re not on-tap: turn off the phones, turn down the lights, use scented oils. And don’t pressure yourself into feeling that this is supposed to be “sexy time.” It’s simply “me-time” — and you may have to bank quite a bit of it before you’re ready to invite someone else along.

Finally, there’s “Spirit,” which basically just means not losing your sense of self in the process. We live in such a fix-it culture that it’s tempting to approach something like a low libido as if it were simply a matter of changing the batteries or oiling the parts. But this step is about figuring out what works for you. “Most women don’t use sex as a way of recharging,” says Britton. “Whereas for men, sex is often their de-stressing zone. It’s their discharge and their recharge!” For you, maybe it’s a day at the spa, maybe it’s tantric sex, maybe it’s a little masturbation before hubby gets home — and maybe it is a bubble bath, the treadmill, or a backrub.

Heidi Raykeil, author of Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido, went searching for her sex drive after the birth of her daughter, and along the way addressed all five of Britton’s steps without even knowing it! First, she got her head straight: She tells us, “I just accepted that I have my own, sometimes fickle, sometimes feral sexuality — not some TV version of sexuality.” Second, she and her husband dealt with their emotions: “In the process of writing about what was not going on with us, we actually started talking about it. Not fighting, or blaming, or guilting — but really communicating.” Third, she got medical help with a thyroid problem that was negatively affecting her libido. Fourth, she found more “me-time” with her husband’s help: “He realized there was a connection between me feeling sexy and getting time away from the baby, so he would take her more or arrange childcare he knew I trusted. Also, as lame and old-school as it sounds, he started cleaning more and helping out around the house.  Not as a trade for sex, but because he realized that walking past a stack of dirty dishes on the way to the bedroom doesn’t do much for my mood.” And finally, they figured out what they each needed to feel sexy individually (sleep, time alone, exercise, de-stressing), and what they needed to do to stay feeling sexy as a couple (turn off the TV, have fun outside the house, communicate better). Raykeil says, “When we connect emotionally and spiritually, the door opens a lot wider for us to connect physically.”

But Raykeil’s story may make a libido-makeover seem easier than it is. Sewell, the author of I’d Rather Eat Chocolate, tried everything: therapy, thongs, naughty thoughts, dirty talk, quickies, slow sensual sex, chocolate icing (for his penis), housework (by him), instructional videos, initiating, masturbation, romance, role-playing, and just going along for the ride to see if she’d get in the mood (she didn’t). None of this changed the fact that she just couldn’t imagine wanting sex more than three or four times a month — and even then, she’d always choose chocolate or a good book over the boot-knocking. Her husband, given his druthers, would like it five to six times a week.

It wasn’t until Sewell’s relationship was headed for divorce court that she finally hit on something that worked. She did it by figuring out what she dreaded most about sex (soldiering through it no matter what) and what she didn’t mind so much (dressing up in lingerie, doing stripteases, and, luckily for her husband, giving blowjobs). So they came up with a kind of sex contract: “I agreed to sexual contact three times a week, so long as I could determine both the pace and the content of these sessions,” says Sewell. This meant her reserving the right to take a break in the middle of sex if she needed to — maybe she’d grab a can of Coke from the fridge, stretch her legs, have a Kit-Kat. It also meant that on some nights, there’d be full-on sex or a blowjob, while on others, she’d just entertain him with a lapdance while he rubbed one out.

Now, she no longer dreads sex — in fact, most of the time she kind of enjoys it. (And trust us, if she can, then almost anyone can.) Oh yeah, and her marriage got a lot better. “Kip became a more loving, attentive, and communicative man,” she writes. “Our marriage became more intimate in other areas. He became more affectionate, happier. To me, it was impossible to fathom that sex could make such a difference, but it did.”

While Sewell’s plan is intricately tailored to her relationship, her approach can be generalized to anyone’s situation: Be honest with yourself and then your partner about what you like most and least about sex, and then work your love life around that. Maybe your only problem is that six nights a week doesn’t give you enough time to miss sex — and chances are, your partner would rather have you gagging for it once a week than going through the motions night after night. Or perhaps the rapid-fire jackhammering so fancied by men (and most pornos) doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities.

“My husband and I have much better sex when a bit of time has passed between our seshes,” says 34-year-old Anne, whose husband usually waits for her to initiate so he knows she’s really in the mood. “Still, he’d like it more. So I’ve told him, If you want it more, then the onus is on you to get me in the mood and do it the way I really like.” For Anne, that means building up slowly with lots of teasing, occasionally tying her up, and limiting actual thrusting time to ten minutes.

Finally, after all the self-exploration and self-improvement and mutual compromise, remember that it’s okay to just say no. After all, consistently having sex when you don’t want to can lead to bad sex, which can lead to not wanting to have sex even more. Explains Heidi Raykeil, “Saying No, I don’t want to do it tonight without hemming and hawing or lying or making excuses is a lot more empowering and feels a whole lot better.” And if you go to sleep feeling good, then who knows? Maybe you’ll wake up in the mood for a little morning nookie.

Five Easy Ways to Feel Really Good
Have you heard of oxytocin? It’s known as the body’s feel-good hormone (not to be confused with the infamous feel-good drug OxyContin), and studies show that when we don’t have enough of it, we’re not going to feel much like reaching out and touching someone. “Oxytocin won’t necessarily increase your sex drive,” says Dr. Laura Burlen, M.D., Ph.D., who has studied the role of hormones in women’s sexual health for decades. “But it does make you more receptive to touch, it helps with increased vaginal lubrication, and it makes the climax better.” We’ll take that for starters! Burlen recently founded the Balencia Wellness Spa, where she often prescribes her low-libido clients oxytocin in the form of a pill or nasal spray. But she also prescribes simple human touch, which can naturally boost oxytocin levels. This is why a low libido is often a vicious circle: The more oxytocin we have, the more we crave touch, so touch begets touch — and no touch begets, well, no touch. But the good news is that this touch can come from anyone. Here are Burlen’s favorite D.I.Y. tips for upping your oxytocin levels this week:

1. Get a facial or a mani-pedi during your lunch break.

2. Make an appointment to have your hair straightened—and then spend the night in.

3. Have lunch with your girlfriends. Who knew that scientists actually studied this stuff? But yep, a good natter with good friends can up the feel-good factor, too.

4. Snuggle up on the couch together for Dancing with the Stars.

5. Get a professional massage, either alone or with your partner.

And if you’re wondering why you often crave the massage or the pedicure instead of sex? “The massage is just bringing you up to the normal level of oxytocin,” says Burlen. “Then you need more touch, like foreplay, to get the surge you need before sex.” So the ideal date night, according to Burlen? “A facial, then a massage from your husband, and then sex!” Just tell your bloke it’s what the doctor ordered.

[article orginally appeared in Red magazine (U.K.), 2007]

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18 Responses to “Dear Em & Lo: I Have Zero Sex Drive. What’s Wrong with Me?”

  1. AlanK Says:

    Are you two barking mad? Go to an endocrinologist. Give 2 cc of blood. Have it tested for four or so key hormones. Do this NOW because inappropriate hormone levels are typically associated with (fortunately nonmalignant) tumors. Only if nothing shows up do you start doing the dress-up stuff with the cute little French maid costumes.

    Yes, I know. Buried deeply in one of the last articles was a mention of a woman who had a tumor that was causing most of her problems. One phrase in how many words? Bah. Psychological behavior so atypical of human beings should always always be screened physiologically.

    Have you made that appointment yet? Why not? Go!

  2. Jenn Says:

    Has her libido ALWAYS been low? One thing I found out was my birth control pills severely affected my sex drive, pretty much killed it. Check that out first if you are on the pill, even if you’ve been taking it for YEARS without this side affect. Sometimes it just happens.

    And yes, go see a doctor to make sure everything hormonally is okay. It’s alright to have a low sex drive (some guys do!), but you need to double, nay, triple-check everything else is in working order first.

  3. emandlo Says:

    Alan, we agree that if someone is really worried, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor. And perhaps we’ll have Dr. Kate weigh in on this question, too, at some point. But where in our article do we tell JNTIT that she should start dressing up as a French maid? In fact, that’s pretty much the exact opposite of what we’re trying to tell her.

  4. AlanK Says:

    Sorry. Yet another chapter in my book “Email: a method of communication that allows tremendous speed at the expense of stripping all subtlety and irony out of said communication.” “French maid” was just shorthand for any non-physiological solution. Probably tells you more about me than you want to know…do with me what you will. But…two minutes to draw blood, automatic blood chemistry analyzers, lots of doctors bored silly at not using their carefully honed skills: GO!

  5. Beth Says:

    Yeah I’m with AlanK, you could have a thyroid disorder too, not necessarily a brain tumor. But go to the doc for sure! If you’re unhappy with your physical response, it’s entirely possible you need a medical answer.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    I think the point though, is that a low libido is not always, or even usually, a medical problem. We (I’m generalizing Westerners here) tend to treat it like one, rather understanding that sexual desire is just that – desire, rather than some medical need. I have lived through the exact opposite of JNTIT’s problem – my current guy tends to have a low sex drive while I have an extremely high sex drive. He doesn’t have anything medically wrong with him, and it’s not me… he just doesn’t really put that much energy into desiring sex. But, The Media portrays men as constantly wanting sex, and women at least wanting to keep up… so for awhile it made me wonder if something was wrong with him, or me… It took a very long conversation where he explained his sex drive has always been relatively low in comparison to other guys, there’s no real reason for it, and that was just him. And then I bought a vibrator! :) I guess she should probably look to see if there are any medical and/or physical problems… but I really got that idea in the part about attending to the body in general. But maybe that was just me?

  7. ComeBackShane Says:

    Perhaps one last comment on the notion of a physical cause. I think that Jenn makes a very good point when she asks if her libido has always been low. Unfortunately, I am one of those people with a tumor in the wrong place and within a matter of weeks, what had been for decades a very reliable and enjoyable sex drive disappeared ENTIRELY. For SIX months there was absolutely nothing, not even a single EMHO! At some point along the line I stopped caring because it wasn’t long before other more frightening problems started cropping up. When my endocrinologist finally figured out the issues, I started on the right replacement meds and one week later had the strongest climax that I can remember having had in years. I guess that even though it wasn’t conscious, all that pent up energy was just building to a stronger release. As nice and as reassuring as that was, it really wasn’t worth the wait or the worry. All is fine today. Thought it might be worth hearing from someone who has been there very recently.

  8. tyred Says:

    I had the same experience with the birth control pill killing my sex drive. I was on it for years and went off it twice–in both cases it was like an on/off light switch with the libido returning off the pill. Sadly, my partners said that this cause/effect theory of mine was in my head, despite all the research I showed them, and the anecdotal evidence from my friends. In theory I’m all for the pill but I have decided to use other birth control methods because I love sex and want to feel it!!

  9. Drew Says:

    Like others said, you could possibly have a thyroid problem as at least half of americans have thyroid problems though most are undiagnosed because they are in the “normal” range of lab work. Goto http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com . These are real people that have researched thyroid for years and realize a person with normal lab work could be horribly hypothyroid.

  10. rrrr Says:

    just take tiny amounts of TESTESTERON it works on woman too

  11. Johnny Says:

    My girl is from Japan, where men fetishize little girls, and women play into that fetish.

    I find it revolting. I hate baby talk, the child-like behavior Japanese dudes seem to find so charming… Along with ethics and legality, that’s why I don’t date twelve year olds.

    I like grown women.

    Like MmeL said, the only time I’m ok with baby talk is when it’s being used to zing someone.

  12. Madamoiselle L Says:

    I couldn’t get onboard with the “expert” on this article. Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the woman with low libido, (I feel even worse for her man) she doesn’t say how much sex she and her man have, but if there is a large difference in how much each one of them want, there ARE going to be problems. Yes, IMO, it IS something to be “fixed.” Maybe “worked on” is a better phrase for this.

    The “expert” said some things which raised my hackles, probably based on HER experiences, but not taking into account every woman’s. Her stuff will be in quotes (can’t use italics, damn it.)

    “Most women don’t use sex as a way of recharging” Speak for yourself. A LOT of us do. I have TONS more energy, emotional and physical, after a good fuck, and I sometimes USE sex to get that energy. LOTS of people do. It’s a win win situation.

    “Women need to understand that they’re not usually going to feel like they’re about to explode in the groin like their male counterparts” AGAIN speak for yourself, a LOT of us DO feel this way. We have an entire page on Em&Lo dedicated to what to call female equivalent of Blue Balls, for heaven’s sake! MANY of us feel like this, if we can’t what we want, or can’t orgasm (for whatever reason) or our timing is off with our partners.

    “you’re just too tired to get down there. “With email and texts and P.D.A.s, we’re always in demand and on tap.” You have to MAKE IT a priority. If that means canceling a meeting, putting the freaking electronics in an other room and turning them OFF, turning down some social events, or putting the kids to bed early, letting them visit gramma for the evening (or morning) or just getting a good 2 or 3 hour DVD and being lazy parents and let them eat popcorn and cereal out of the box, mess up the house and watch the DVD downstairs, with the White Noise machine on upstairs so you and he can just GET TO IT, just Do It! You wouldn’t not eat meals, because you’re “in demand and tired.” You make the time. Sex is just as, if not more important.

    “We used to have lots of long chats about our sex life,” says Maggie…“… make it part of our daily conversation, like, You know, we haven’t had sex in about a month..” My jaw nearly dropped to the floor. A MONTH? And they’ve only been married “a few years?” We didn’t go more than a week after I had our kids….never gone near a MONTH without it since I had my cherry popped, decades ago. Some things may be “normal” in some people’s lives, but I can’t wrap MY head around them. I can’t imagine My Man even considering going a MONTH without sex, EVER! Not to mention in a relatively new relationship, no babies in the house, living together (meaning NOT being separated geographically.) Even when I was in college and we were separated by many miles, we either made a point to get together or took advantage of our Open Relationship status.

    A Month? I am NOT judging anybody, but, damn Don’t you FIGHT? Isn’t the tension unbearable? Sex is a fantastic Defuser. Men and women are different, in the way they think and the way they do things. It causes tension. My Man drives me CRAZY and I know I drive him crazy, at least part of our sex frequency (not all) is due to just DEFUSING the tension of living with and loving someone who seems to be from an other planet in the way they think and act. I honestly think there’d be a dead body (either of us, or maybe both) lying around if we had to go a MONTH without sex….Your mileage may vary, and probably does.

    One thing I did agree with “in fact, almost every woman we interviewed who claimed to “suffer” from a low libido said that when her partner initiates and she just goes along for the ride, she typically ends up having a good time: “I often have sex when I’m not in the mood,” says Amy.. “But it’s with the full knowledge that the mood will kick in — and it usually does.” YES. A key strategy when the libido wanes, like when you have a new baby, or…um whatever reason people have. Doing it often sparks the libido. (And I don’t think the work “suffer” should have been put in parentheses. It IS suffering, or no one would be complaining.)

    Also, she should have added that the MORE you have sex, the MORE sex you want. Having sex frequently kicks your libido into hyperdrive, especially if you make love often. You start those testosterones, and oxytocins, and endorphins sparking and flowing, they only continue and make you WANT to keep them continuing to flow.

    I am not judging this poor woman with the low libido, but let’s not say “this is normal and OK.” (and we didn’t get a sense of HOW disparate their sex drives are. Is he wanting it every day, and she wants it once every 2 months? That’s an issue. If he wants it every day, and she’s only into it every other day, the situation is certainly more workable.

    AND, yes, a low libido OFTEN IS a signal something IS WRONG. (Mentally, physically, with the relationship. Somehow.) If it is interfering with your relationship, if his “requests” are irritating you to the point where you are starting fights before bed, so he won’t ask, if the idea of sex is making you physically ILL, if you are LYING to get out of sex, (“Oh, I have a yeast infection.” and you don’t.) if you’ve hidden the porn and put the Child Code Lock on the Cable and the Internet so HE can’t even look and “get horny” if you are intentionally not taking care of yourself so you don’t “look sexy” to him (that won’t usually work, btw) it’s time to get professional help. (I know women who do these things regularly, and they ain’t right. Nor are they honest. Nor healthy. And I hate to say it, but chicks who do stuff like this often end up alone. Sorry, it’s true.)

    Don’t want to judge. (But, I probably am.) But, this “expert” seems to think that a low libido is not only OK, but expected. I think we can expect better from women, in our more enlightened age. No, not everyone is going to have, or even want sex once or twice a day. But, in relationships (or even if not in a relationship) REGULAR sex is a given for health. If there is a disparate stretch between how often each wants sex, don’t tell me there aren’t going to be problems, often ones which not only get worse with time, but which can destroy the relationship.

    Your mileage may vary, and probably does.

  13. Madamoiselle L Says:

    Scratch the “probably does.” I hope not.

  14. Lauren Says:

    I really don’t understand Madamoiselle L’s comments. Is she trying to brag and make us women with low libidos feel even worse about ourselves? Congratulations, you have a normal sex drive, we’re all very happy for you I’m sure, but I think that if you haven’t experienced having a low libido and the guilt and negative self esteem that comes with it you have no right to have a say in the matter. It is women like you who make the ones like us feel like freaks and failures.
    Mind your own business and let the ones of us who need help, find help and hope anywhere we can. You must have no idea how amazing it is to find websites and articles that tell us that we’re not alone and that there is help and that we’re not defective and doomed to die lonely.

    I would like to send out my endless love and gratitude to this website. My therapist put me on to it and in one night of surfing through the advice pages I already feel 100 times better and already feel like I may actually beat this thing and manage to regain my sanity.

  15. Jessica Says:

    I too have a very low sex drive, not always, but most ofthe time. And my husband has a high sex drive, he wants it all the time. With that I try to avoid having sex, I wear clothes to bed, I make excuses, or I wait til he falls asleep most of the time. NOw I don’t deny him sex, that is just rude. But when we do finally have it, I have a million things running my mind, and the constant countdown to when he climaxes.

    I love my husband very much, and I’m attracted to him, but I cannot even get myself tempted enough to want it most of the time. I recently had a child and found out that I’m due to have my second one at the end of the month. I’d blame the pregnancy on my sex drive but this has always beenthe case for me.

    Sorry this wasn’t much advise on what to do, but it does let you know you aren’t alone.

  16. Nigella Says:

    That’s all very well but what would you say to a man with the same ‘problem’? My fella constantly has that feeling of disiniterest as though he has just orgasmed and sex is the last thing on his mind. I love him very much but it’s becoming a real problem.

  17. mahalia Says:

    I too have a very low sex drive,but is was never like that. I loved too have sex and then i had my baby, and it was gone and i been asking around and everyone is telling me it will pass, but she in now 2 going on 3 and i just don’t wanna have sex with my babyfarther. Is there real something wrong with me and what can i do for HELP!

  18. logixgirl Says:

    This was a great article. I feel like the letter from JNTIT could have come from my mouth. Starting today I’m going to change my birth control to something non-hormonal and start getting massages or facials to raise my oxytocin. Thank you, Lauren, for sticking up for us.


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