Lost: One Libido If found, please return to owner.

What to do if your sex drive isn’t what it used to be.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
What to do if your sex drive isn’t what it used to be.
Images 123RF.com
Images 123RF.com

You have amazing sex five times a week, right? You’re always in the mood for it – keen to get down and dirty whenever your man gives you so much as a sideways glance. Or maybe not. The truth is, sometimes, you don’t want to do the horizontal dance of love. Sometimes, you may not want sex for a few days, a couple of weeks or perhaps even longer. About 40 percent of women experience low libido – lack of sexual desire – at some point in their lives, for reasons as varied and complex as women themselves. The key to dealing with it? Knowing the cause.

Sayonara, honeymoon period!

Remember when you first met your partner and the only thing that could tear you apart was a high-pressured hose (no pun intended) or your friends screaming, “Get a room!”? Experts have a name for this honeymoon phase: limerence. And the reason there’s a specific, scientific-sounding word to describe this period of infatuation with someone new is because it’s been proven to alter our emotional, physical, intellectual and sexual states.

“Female desire is maximised during limerence,” explains Dr Rosie King, sex expert and author of Where Did My Libido Go?. “An increase in pleasure hormones triggers a rise in testosterone in women, which in turn enhances sexual desire. But 12 to 18 months on, limerence begins to fade, so it’s unrealistic to expect that same level of sexual desire to be present later on in your relationship.”

When life gets in the way So now that we know it’s completely normal not to want to jump on your dude 24/7, other factors for low libido may arise. A big one is stress. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen, but the chances of an overworked, stressed out, emotional woman coming home from a hard day/week/month and demanding her man disrobe her immediately for some sexy times are about as likely as Ryan Gosling turning up at the door tomorrow and asking for our hand in marriage. Sexologist and relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein agrees that your energy and stress levels have a huge impact on your sex life. “If you’re stressed or exhausted, the last thing you’ll want to do when you get home is have sex.”

26-year-old Karina recently experienced this when she was travelling a lot for her job. “I love my boyfriend, but I was so tired that even the thought of having sex was an effort.”If you find yourself in this situation, Dr Nikki suggests that you take it easy. “It’s OK if you aren’t feeling sexual every so often. Give yourself a break and think, ‘This month, I’m on deadline or I’m really stressed – I’m going to accept that my desire is not there and know it’s affected because of what’s happening in my life at the moment.’”

If you don’t think stress is the problem, and you haven’t wanted sex in a while, chat with your doctor about any medication you’re taking, as some contraceptive pills and antidepressants can have an adverse effect on your sex drive. Experiencing pain or discomfort during sex is also a common reason why women don’t want to engage in sexual activity. Again, your best option is to talk to your doctor if this is happening.

It’s not me, it’s you

If you’re often thinking about sex but not actually engaging with your partner, you may have what Dr Rosie calls “situational loss of desire”. “If you’re happy to masturbate or you desire sex with someone else, there is nothing wrong with your libido, but there could be something wrong with your relationship or the quality of sex you’re having.” Dr Nikki agrees. “Problems in a relationship can transfer into sexual boredom. In this case, it’s best to sit down and have a conversation with your partner so you can both check in and try to work through any issues. The key to a good relationship is communication!”

Creating good sex

Thankfully, low libido doesn’t mean the end of our sex lives. “We think sex should happen spontaneously,” says Dr Rosie, “but great sex is actually created.” Yup, this means scheduling regular horizontal action. “If you want to go to the movies with a friend, you don’t just randomly find yourself at a cinema. You ring them, make a date, organise a time and drive there. It’s the same with sex. Set aside some time for your relationship and then see what happens spontaneously.”

After her job quietened down, Karina organised dinner with her boyfriend. “I came home with wine and we spent some time talking and reconnecting. I let him know how I was feeling, so he understood that me not wanting sex had nothing to do with him. It was good to get it off my chest, and in my own mind, I’d scheduled time for sex so I was more prepared to do it. And yes, we did do it that night… and the night after that!”

Bring Back That Lovin’ Feeling

-Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling – it will take the pressure off. Pressure = no desire.

-Schedule time for sex.

-Try something new. Act out a fantasy, try role playing or introduce sex toys.

-Masturbate – sometimes, when you don’t use it, you lose it!