Find your lost libido

Finding Your Lost Libido

We all go through periods when we have higher or lower libidos. Our sexual interest normally ebbs and flows depending on what’s going on in our lives, with our health, our relationships. But when you’re used to having an active libido and suddenly it’s nowhere to be found, figuring out what happened to it is like solving a mystery. Among all the sexual issues that bring couples into counseling, one of the most upsetting is one partner’s prolonged loss of sexual interest. Today I want to talk about some of the most common issues that affect women’s libido, so if you’re playing hide and seek with your own or your partner’s sexual appetite, you can at least begin looking in the right places.

Inhibited sexual desire

One culprit that can do a good job of wiping out sexual desire is inhibition. Sometimes, women push through inhibitions when they’re single because the excitement of new relationships or the desire to find a partner sweeps them along. But once in a solid relationship, an inhibited libido will start to wind down. If guilt or shame are holding you back, be sure to talk to someone who can help you free your sexuality and enjoy your relationship fully.

Hormonal changes affect women’s desires, too. Various drugs that cause hormone changes are hell on libido. The most common desire dampeners are oral contraceptives and anti-depressants. But having a baby or entering peri-menopause can also leave libidos lagging – and any combination of all these situations will exacerbate the problem.

Women who notice sexual changes while on anti-depressants should talk to their doctor about alternatives that don’t have strong sexual side effects. Those on birth control pills should talk to their doctors about another form of contraception, such as the IUD or contraceptive ring. New mommies are vulnerable due to post-delivery hormone changes, plus the effects of sleeplessness and the feeling of being “mommyfied.”

Perhaps one of the least talked about problems is what happens when new moms mentally shift from being a wife and lover to being a mommy. Where there’s a cultural perception that a woman is either a sex object or a mother, women often feel they have to make a choice. Subconsciously, being a mom takes precedence and the role of lover is moved to the back burner. It takes a lot of dedication to focus and assign priority to your womanly sexual needs. No matter how much you love your baby, you need to love yourself and your partner just as much.

Later, during the years leading up to menopause – and for some women, this can even begin in their 30’s – hormonal changes can sometimes affect physical comfort with sex, and therefore, desire. Vaginal dryness can make sex less pleasing, and then some women just try to avoid having sex altogether. Using lots of lubricants does help. So does focusing more on arousal and fantasy.

Because many women encounter interactions between combinations of all these factors, it’s important to consider each of these elements. And then, there’s the very complicated matter of a relationship’s effect on libido. If you’re thinking, “I might be more interested in sex if my partner would only do such and such” then you can bet that your sexual appetite is being hijacked by feelings of resentment, anger, or disappointment. Even if you’re wrong about the fact that your partner’s doing something different would actually cure your libido problems, the fact that you think it would IS having an impact. So you need to focus on getting your relationship back on track too.

Well let’s say you and your partner are doing fine, but you have other stresses. Stress can take a toll on libido, regardless of its source – whether it’s work, a loved one’s illness, family issues, you name it. Stress is not just an emotional condition, it’s a physiological one – and it causes changes in your body that drag down your energy level and disrupt sex hormones, too. Women often take the attitude “I can handle it” because they’re used to juggling a hundred balls at once and if they’re not falling apart at the seams, they think they’re OK. Well yes, it’s true – we’re tough. But a lost libido is one of the body’s ways of saying that everything is NOT OK. When something you’ve taken for granted in the past – like your interest in sex – suddenly goes MIA, it means that something is out of balance physically or emotionally. If you’re not in the zone and if your partner is feeling dissatisfied, undesirable, rejected, disconnected – his distress will add to the whole package of troubles.

You want to think of the loss of sexual interest as a red flag telling you that something important is going on and shouldn’t be ignored. If you think, “well, it’s JUST sex,” or even, “it’s normal to go through stages like this” then your thinking is too limited. It may be normal, and it may not even bother you – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see the change as meaningful in itself. At the very least, ask yourself what it signifies. Now the odd thing is that when sexual appetite wanes, it can seem as if sex REALLY doesn’t matter – or like it never counted for much, anyway. Yet, when you disparage the importance of sex, you don’t check to see what else is going on and you can miss something that does matter. So if your libido takes a long hike, talk to your partner, talk to a doctor, or talk to a therapist. And, by the way, don’t fall for marketplace libido boosters and herbal supplements that haven’t been proven effective in controlled trials. They’ll do nothing for you but empty your wallet.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore a flagging libido. You deserve to be healthy in body, in mind, in spirit, AND in sexuality.