By Gray Moulton, MA (a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as a Certified Sex Therapist)
Sally* makes time for girls night, to get her nails done, have a massages or go to the gym. She makes time for her kid’s play dates and to volunteer at the church. So why does she seems to struggle so much with making time to have SEX? She says she enjoys it and loves her husband, but somehow she just doesn’t seem to feel the urge anymore. She questioned if something’s wrong with her? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a woman or couple in my office with the same or similar scenario. Do you wonder if something’s wrong with you?
The answer isn’t as easy as one might think. For some women, low libido (sex drive) or even the inability to have sex could be linked to specific health issues. Have you had any history of physical illness. Are you taking any medications or do you have pain associated with sexual intimacy? Are you at an age where your hormones are playing havoc in your life? Have you been feeling depressed, anxious or stressed lately? If they answer yes to any of these questions, see your medical doctors for a thorough checkup. It’s amazing how low levels of vitamin D or hormones or having an underactive thyroid can wipe you out physically. You may be taking a medication (such as antidepressants) that totally numb you to sexual desires. Hormone imbalances may cause lack of lubrication thus causing intense friction during love making. It’s a miracle for some women how using a bit of lubricant or applying estrogen cream directly to their clitoral area can make a huge difference. I bet some of you had no idea that there is a solution that easy.
Medical issues are one thing, however mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress or feeling underappreciated and overworked are completely different. Suggestions of using lubrication or introducing a “toy” into a relationship will NOT make you feel like you’re ready enough to have sex. Often times resentment builds between a couple creating marital strife. Maybe the stress of being mom, chauffeur, maid, teacher and friend are just too much so the thought of being a sexy wife (much less just “the wife”) is completely thrown out of the window. You may not be remotely interested in revitalizing a sex drive with your partner you are annoyed with, much less you may not like. So now what?
At this point, it is important to go back to the basics and remind you that there is a need to regain levels of communication that allow for the expressions of feelings and thoughts. Being able to sit down and share where the load is too much and how your partner can help will help you to feel more validated and heard. Learning to navigate through difficult issues and come to mutually agreeable solutions is a hard step, but certainly one that will help in bringing your desire back.
Explaining exactly how desire works in a woman’s brain is key as well. Men tend to see a beautiful woman and automatically feel desire. Sight equals desire almost. Women are very different. We have complex brains that are constantly churning and turning and muddling through the day’s list of chores or tomorrows duties at work. We THINK constantly and are in our brains often. If we cannot shift our thoughts, we have a much harder time of feeling desire. Laurie Watson, LMFT, Certified Sex Therapist teaches “that for most women it takes 20 minutes to get aroused, and then another 20 minutes to orgasm with direct stimulation to the clitoris.” Really? Where did they teach that in school? This makes so much sense though. It takes about 20 minutes for a woman to let go of her duties (so to speak) and allow herself to feel and truly get in the mood. It takes another 20 minutes of foreplay to reach orgasm. So don’t be hard on yourselves ladies. We were made differently and on average won’t go there that quickly. I am not talking about forcing yourself to have sex when you don’t want to. I am just saying to give your body a chance. Realize that once you get started you may enjoy it. The more you can move past your barriers you may just realize you CAN enjoy it again. The more often you are able to connect on such an intimate level with your partner, the more likely you are able to reconnect with your desires.
So if you’ve been feeling lack luster on the libido lately, go see your doctor and get a check-up. See a therapist to discuss your mental health issues or marital issues. Give yourself a break too! Maybe scheduling that time with your partner CAN actually lead to a better sex life.
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