“Dead bedroom, sexless marriage, low libido, lack of desire.”
We’ve got lots of names to describe what happens when we stop wanting sex.
And according to science, this is a common phenomenon- about 30–40% of all women have at some point experienced a loss of interest in sex for at least a three month period.
However, when should you worry about your levels of desire? And when should you seek help?
Click below on the section that you feel most describes your situation for more information, and new ways to think about the issue….
We use the term “low libido” to describe a lack of interest in or desire for sex.
This can seem quite a scary label, however- we ALL don’t feel like having sex sometimes.
It’s NORMAL to have these fluctuations in our levels of desire because our libido responds to what is going on in our lives and environments
However, if you’d like to know more about what impacts on desire and what you can do to reduce the impact of the things that are “turning you off”, visit the section of the blog on “why is my sex drive low?”
Having a comparatively low (or no) sex drive shouldn’t been seen as a problem because we’re all different- in many ways, there is no normal!
For some people, they’re not fussed about sex because they identify as A-Sexual, and may have little to no sexual attraction to others. Some have sex, some don’t- it’s a personal choice.
If you think this fits your experience, a great resource to visit is Ace in The Hole, an A-Sexual blogger who writes plenty about sex from an A-Sexual perspective.
Others just have a lower sex drive than what is deemed “the right amount”. However, this is problematic. What is the right amount of desire? Who decides what are “normal” levels of libido and what are not?
You can explore more about recognising a low libido in this podcast from Project Pleasure.
Labelling people as high or low sex drive will always invoke comparison. The key is to only compare yourself to yourself.
So the test of whether a lack of sex drive is a problem is whether YOU feel it is.
If it’s not causing you any problems, they don’t worry about it! You might wish to keep reading the other categories however, because often the pressure to have a higher libido comes from other places….
For many women, THEY might be happy with their levels of desire but the distress is coming from their partner who wants more sex than they do.
This is called a mismatch in desire, and can lead to tension and conflict in the relationship, as well as hurt feelings on both sides.
A mismatch in desire is difficult because neither partner is wrong or right- it just is.
So you might not objectively have “low” desire, but rather your partner just has a higher level.
Dealing with a mismatch can feel tough to navigate because there is no “normal” for sex– it’s only what you negotiate between you.
Often, this is where tensions, arguments and resentment forms.
And if you haven’t put the “low libido” label on yourself, but rather your partner has, it may not a diagnosable condition but rather something unique to your relationship.
In this sense, the lack of sex within the relationship is the issue– rather than you.
The important thing to consider is what is normal for you, and your partner, not what you *think* you should be doing.
What a “normal” level of sex between couples is is also VERY subjective. For some normal and happy/healthy sex drive is every day. For others it’s once a month.
There literally is no normal– it’s whatever you feel comfortable and happy with.
So you should never stress about comparing your relationship to others. As long as you are satisfied that is all that matters.
Many couples get tied up in worrying about the frequency of their sexual encounters because they’re concerned with what’s normal.
However what is most important is how good the sex feels that you’re actually having. Often, if you increase the quality of sex, you end up increasing the quantity anyway.
For more, here’s a great article about about what’s a normal amount of sex in a relationship.
However, things can feel even more complicated because some women don’t label the lack of sex/desire as a problem until their partner does.
When their partner does flag this as an issue, they realise that they too aren’t satisfied with the frequency of sex. Should this happen, the above rule applies because the lack of libido is then causing her distress.
Sometimes a low libido can be a combination of both medical and social factors. However, for a large majority of women a low libido is more of a social or lifestyle issue.
Using medicalised language like syndromes, disorders and diagnosis can make those who experience a low libido fear there is something seriously wrong with them, when in fact there are many factors that can impact on desire as well as many of the models that we understand our sex drives through are based on flawed studies of the male libido.
As we already know if you’ve read the section above, a lack of sexual desire “becomes a diagnosable condition only when it diminishes the quality of one’s life and creates distress”.
However, if you are concerned it is a medical issue, many professionals, such as sex coaches or therapists, can explore issues around a low libido and can offer a wide range of options to help you recover it.
If you went to see a specialist (GP/Gynecology doctor etc), you might be diagnosed with what is know as Female sexual interest/arousal disorder.
The criteria of female disorder of sexual interest/arousal (according to the DSM) are:
- absent or decreased sexual interest
- absent or decreased erotic thoughts or fantasies
- absent or decreased initiation of sexual activity or responsiveness to a partner’s attempts to initiate it
- absent or decreased excitement and pleasure
- absent or decreased response to sexual cues
- absent or decreased sensations during sexual activity, whether genital or non-genital.
(Three out of six criteria are required for diagnosis and have to be present for a period of six months or more and cause significant distress)
Generally, “when a woman is not able to fully, healthily, and pleasurably experience some or all of the various physical stages the body normally experiences during sexual activity” a diagnosis might be made.
For some people, a label can be really relieving to know that you have “something”, and that there must be a cure or some medicine to take to fix it.
However, a diagnosis of sexual dysfunction isn’t always helpful or accurate because many of the symptoms of a low libido are understood differently when they are viewed through a different lens. Reading this post about Emily Nagoski’s well-known research is key to understanding how your sex drive *really* works (and potentially realising your low libido isn’t really low at all, it’s just activated differently!).
Many women incorrectly assume they have a low sex drive, when in fact they just experience desire in a different way- only after they experience physical arousal- and that’s OK! Do check out the articles on responsive desire to see if this resonates with you 🙂
If you’re not happy with your current sex drive and would like to improve it, you’re in the right place!
Knowing more about how to define what a low sex drive is can mean the difference between whether and where you seek support- whether you’re NORMAL and fine, if you need to see a GP, a sexual health clinic, or if you can sort it yourself at home.
If you’re still concerned about your lack of desire, it’s useful to speak to a GP or a sexual health clinic who can support and guide you to further assistance.
Check out our huge list of resources here that might be able to point you in the right direction.
And how about you- are you happy with your levels of desire, or do you feel pressure to have a higher libido?