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Women's Libido and Sexual Desire
What happens when a woman experiences low libido and decreased sexual desire

Victoria Morrissey
Perth Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia

When in a long-term relationship, sexual desire can become elusive. When you were first with your partner, sex may have been frequent, passionate and spontaneous. Over time, the intensity and passion can fade, often leaving women at a loss to explain exactly what happened to their libido and their desire to be sexual. Many women struggle to know what to do.

Some women are confused or concerned about their lack of desire or low libido and struggle with the impact that this has on their relationship and on themselves.

Many things including stress, fatigue, depression, difficulties in a relationship, or sex that is no longer satisfying can trigger lack of interest in sex.

Women's arousal is generally slower to peak than a man's and there are numerous things that inhibit sexual desire in women. The sexual feelings we have (or don't have), provide us with important information regarding the nature and quality of our life and our relationships. Women need a reason to have sex that is beyond satisfying a physical urge that may be non-existent.

A woman's sexual feelings and her behaviour toward her partner can change over time. Sexual feelings, emotions and needs are relational to other things that are going on in her life. Women (and their partners) can't rely on the same triggers to produce sexual interest that worked earlier on in the relationship. Desire is triggered by internal and external cues.

There are two components to sexual drive - biological drive (lust) and psychological drive (sexual motivation). Lust is an awareness that you physically and actively want to engage in sex. Sexual motivation is influenced by mood, physical wellbeing, the quality of the relationship and also whether you anticipate the sexual encounter being enjoyable and satisfying (it is useful to consider that familiarity may lead to complacency in the bedroom). Motivation to engage in sexual activity does not require lust. Other reasons such as the desire for intimacy and closeness are strong incentives.

The desire to have sex is most often sparked or inhibited by the relationship and interactions you have with your partner. It is important for women to be aware of what contributes to their desire for sex (desire enhancers and inhibitors), and equally important, that they share this information with their partner. What turns a woman on changes over the course of a lifetime. As a single, carefree young woman, the things that turned you on are going to be different to those that turn you on as a young mother or a mature woman with grown up children.

In a relationship where we feel we are getting our needs met (other than sexual) and there is good communication, the motivation to be sexual increases because we feel close to our partner. Sometimes we can have a great relationship but some small needs that aren't being met (i.e if the woman is always the one that gets out of bed at 5.30am to take care of the children). Women may not be aware that subconsciously, the things that niggle at them, can block their motivation for sexual desire. They need to be aware of what excites and inhibits their desire to be sexual. Desire to be close to our partner can lead to sexual arousal which in turn can lead to sexual desire. If we are harbouring small irritations or do not feel appreciated, cared for or loved, our desire to be close to our partner is markedly reduced.

It is a mistake to rely on physical stirrings of interest to indicate your level of sexual desire. Women often have a need to be seduced, touched or caressed before these feelings can occur. Openness to sexual activity and stimulation during sex can cause feelings of sexual desire. Many women believe that they lack sexual desire and have no libido because they do not feel physically turned on prior to sex. If sexual desire erupts once you are aroused, then you do have a libido!

Sexual desire is complex for women. It requires thoughts, emotions and bodies to work in sync. Women also need to think about sex specifically, and want to engage in it and enjoy it. They have to be motivated and believe that there is something in it for them whether it be intimacy, closeness, pregnancy or pleasure. If sex is of little interest to you, you might want to consider your relationship and what blockages are possibly there, inhibiting your sexual desire. It is also worth bearing in mind that women require a minimal amount of testosterone, progesterone, estrogen and prolactin to be in good sexual health. A trip to your doctor to ensure that you are in good physical health is always a good idea too, to rule out any medical reasons that may be a contributing factor.

If you would like to explore this issue further, Victoria can be contacted by telephone or email.



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