It takes two to tango. But lately, only one of you would like to dance. Either your sexual advances are getting rejected, or you're the one who is doing the rejecting.
Low or no desire is one of the most common sexual disorders around, and it can happen to anyone — male or female — at any point in life.
Given the shopping list of reasons for diminished or inhibited sexual desire, it’s practically guaranteed that you will experience it at some point. So what are these culprits sabotaging your carnal pursuits? And what can you do to dance around them?
Consider this column your quick guide to low libido. Whether you're looking to prevent or reverse this disorder, I’m here to help.
First off, you need to recognize the reasons that your love-light has stopped burning. Determine if your situation is long-term or short-term. Figure out if you need outside help.
Besides “no honey, not tonight,” one major sign that you’ve lost your mojo is that people, situations, or things you’d normally find erotic are no longer arousing. Sex starts to feel more like an obligation. And if you’re not in the know about this matter, you may find yourself feeling unhappy, distressed or “abnormal.”
It’s important to take a holistic look not just at your sex life, but at your whole life when trying to get to the heart of this matter. Some situations can involve more than one factor, especially those where both partners are experiencing low or no desire. So we’re going to examine the physical, psychological, and relational issues that can affect your game.
Examine your overall health. Are you in poor health or suffering from physical problems? Even convalescence — that time of gradual recovery after sickness — can leave you too worn out to woo. Other reasons related to the physical include:
— Feeling stressed, overworked, or exhausted.
— Nutritional deficits, like low zinc.
— A poor diet, like consuming too few calories or having a diet high in fat.
— Being overweight.
— Having a hormone deficiency, such as low testosterone.
— Alcohol, drug, and/or nicotine use.
— Medications, such as antidepressants or the contraceptive pill.
— Being pregnant or having recently given birth.
— Mother Nature, such as aging or genetics.
— Struggling with infertility issues.
Consider your state of being when it comes to your mental health. Are you experiencing emotional distress of some kind? These may include:
— Stress and/or anxiety.
— Feeling emotionally shut down in general.
— Mourning the passing of a loved one, including pets.
— Unhappiness with yourself, your partner, and/or your relationship.
— The effects of having been sexually traumatized or abused.
Here is where you also want to ponder over issues that may be related to the above and your willingness to get busy in the bedroom. Ask yourself:
— Am I grappling with low self-esteem or poor sexual self-esteem?
— Am I feeling inadequate in bed, or feeling like prior poor sexual performance is coming back to haunt me?
— Do I feel unable to please my partner?
— Are body image issues making me feel undesirable or not sexual as a human being?
— Do I have adverse feelings about sex?
Intimacy stressors can also come from the relationship itself. Lovers, like those coming off of the high of their honeymoon, may feel reality settling in when it comes to sex. Their unrealistic fantasies about their partner and/or the relationship are coming to an end and they’re realizing that maintaining passion involves work. Other relationship issues include:
— Boredom in the bedroom or sexual apathy.
— Having or being an unskilled lover.
— A lack of communication or poor communication
— Relationship dynamics, such as a fear of revealing your vulnerabilities.
— Being no longer sexually attracted to your partner or vice versa.
— Persistent hassles and conflicts with your partner — related to sex or not — that are causing feelings of anger or resentment.
— Being in a physically and/or emotionally abusive relationship.
Is it Long-Term vs. Short-Term?
Before you do anything else, stop, take a breath, and listen to your body. Is something out of balance? What needs attention? What do you want to have happen? What is going on in the outside world that can be affecting what goes on in your sexual world? When considering that last question, think about the following:
— Is this issue temporary? Your sex drive can rebound once a difficult or exciting time is over. Stress and fatigue can occur around events like starting a new job or overwork and are two of the most common reasons for low or no sexual desire.
— Think about which issues can be “easily” remedied and made temporary. Some may be resolved by making sex a priority. Try hiring a babysitter for a regular date night. Others involve taking care of yourself — try walking 20 minutes a day or starting a yoga routine to lower your stress levels. Still others are best resolved in educating yourself about better sex and pleasuring.
Seeking Professional Help
Even when an issue is temporary, you need to determine which ones are within your control and which ones will require professional help. Getting to the bottom of chronic low or no sexual desire involves, as you just learned, sorting through a number of issues. That in itself can require professional help.
Start with a physician to rule out any physical causes, tackle physical ailments or needs, or manage the effects of natural life experiences like menopause.
A certified sex therapist or counselor can provide further assistance on psychological or relational issues that affecting your sex life.
The French use the term “élan vital,” for “life force” or “joy in living,” to coin sexual desire. Your sexual desire is linked to your sense of self, the quality of your relationships, and your quality of life. Hopefully, you’re on your way to taking care of all of it.
Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."