Ever feel like sex is hard work? Does the idea of getting yourself in the mood feel as exciting as climbing a ten thousand foot mountain (at the end of an exhausting week)? Are you wanting to want sex, but sexual turn-on seems to be eluding you and your body?
In my work as a sex coach, I specialize in the female libido ... and I am here to say that there is nothing wrong with your libido if you don't spontaneously feel sexual desire. No, your libido is not broken. And neither are you.
I've worked with women from all walks of life — young and old, new moms and empty nesters, married women and single or divorced — and I am going to share with you what I've found to be the top three reasons why women tend to not want sex, especially in long-term relationships.
Now, a caveat. There might be medical reasons why you might not be feeling desirous, such as serious illness, effects of chemo or surgery, side effects of medications, and serious hormonal imbalances to name a few. It's always wise to check with your doctor first. Then read on.
If you experience one or all three of the following, your libido is doing its job. Really, it's responding to context.
Read on to understand what has your libido hit the road and what steps you can take to get it flowing again.
1. You don't know what arouses you and turns you on.
Here’s the surprising fact that most women intuitively know, but few really honor: women need pleasure to arouse our sexual desire and to feel open to sexual connection — physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pleasure first, desire second. Not the other way around.
And if you’re like most women, you’ve probably taken a “vow of poverty” when it comes to your pleasure. It can come in the form of making sure your partner feels good. Or maybe not knowing what turns you on or asking for it.
That vow of poverty comes at a cost. When we don’t feel good and nourished in our bodies, our libido falters. It has nothing to run on. Yet, if you're like most women, you beat yourself up for it.
It doesn't mean you're broken; it does mean that something in the input/output system is.
If sexual desire is responsive to pleasure, filling your cup with pleasure is key. When you know what turns you on and gets your juices flowing + you commit to your pleasure, your libido will flourish. When your partner stirs you up with stimulation that feels good for your body, you'll naturally want more.
I think of it as filling up our “daily pleasure quota” with things that delight and pleasure us. It may be enjoying your favorite cup of tea in silence. Or asking for a hug. Exploring your body with sensual touch. Or asking your partner to hold you tight.
Pleasure as an essential nutrient for women’s bodies. It is the antidote to low libido. It is the antidote to shame. And it is the key to having sex that feels nourishing, easy and fulfilling.
2. Sex is painful or uncomfortable.
This is another time when your libido is doing what it is supposed to do. When sex is less than pleasurable — whether it’s neutral, uncomfortable, and especially if it’s painful — your body is not going to want more of it. It is that simple.
If you've experienced tightness, lack of lubrication or the feeling that your partner is bumping up against your cervix — and you continue to have intercourse — your brain creates a Pavlovian response that sex=pain (and whatever touch might lead up to it).
Once this connection is made, it’s natural for the body to tighten in anticipation of the next time you want to want to have sex or the next time your partner touches you, even if it’s not sexual.
Your body knows. And it is protecting you.
Too often, I see women having sex before they're fully aroused — that is, before the body is so engorged, so opened up and so turned on that it's begging for penetration. In addition to further solidifying the connection between sex and discomfort (or lack of pleasure), women miss out on the opportunity to experience deep sexual trance that is possible with greater arousal where one can feel loss of inhibitions, greater pleasure, and ecstatic joy.
Understanding your arousal patterns and learning what truly arouses your body is key to building up your energy so that your body feels open and ready to overflow, whether it’s for penetration or orgasm. Painful sex is rarely about being broken; most often, it's a signal that you're not having sex for your pleasure.
3. The sex you're having is not worth wanting.
Is the sex you're having the best you've ever had? The one you've dreamed of? Nourishing? Intimate? Connected? That leaves you cracked open? Where nothing feels left out or untouched?
The hard truth is that most women are not having sex that's for their pleasure. Sure, it might be sex that feels pleasurable. There might be orgasm. But if you're not having the best sex, if you're feeling like there can be more than what you're having, your body is likely not going to want more of it.
Women’s libido is responsive. If you're having sex that's less than pleasurable for you — physically, emotionally and spiritually — your libido will respond.
If I want you to leave with one message, this is it: your pleasure is the antidote to low libido. Your pleasure is the antidote to shame. Your pleasure is key to having a nourishing sex life that leaves you wanting more.
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Learn more about Pleasure Sex Ed: How to Have Sex for Your Pleasure, an online group program starting March 20, 2018. Eight women, eight weeks, eight juicy topics on using pleasure to rev up your libido and have sex that leaves you nourished and wanting more.