Remember being 17 and sharing everything with your girlfriends? First kisses, bad dates, fights with your boyfriend? Chances are, you talked about everything- even those things that boyfriend wouldn’t be too pleased to hear you sharing. Then you finished school, and you began dating people more seriously. For every guy you went out with, there was a subsequent conversation with that same best friend, or maybe a new one, about the date, his appearance and personality, what was wrong with him, and how far this relationship was going to go. When you got married, she helped you pick your dress, and probably your lingerie as well. And if you’re like most women, that is when things started to change. Conversation about sex and sexuality started to dwindle, and was replaced by the other things that were prevalent in your life. You can attribute this change to a million different things, from your focus on balancing your kids and career to the increased conservatism that comes with age.
Obviously your responsibilities and interests change as you go through life, and accordingly, so do the topics of conversation that interest you. But removing sex from the medley of topics that you are comfortable discussing can inadvertently lead to feelings of alienation if you ever develop a problem in this facet of your life.
Recent medical studies indicate that up to 1/3 of young to middle-aged women, and up to ½ of older women experience issues relating to their libido. The numbers alone demonstrate how pervasive these issues are, but still it’s something we rarely discuss. Most women don’t talk about low female libido with their friends, and the few that do discuss it with their doctor only breach the surface of the issue. That so many of us choose to deal with this alone could be attributed to a socially-distorted sense of decency. We wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by discussing something so personal and so ‘crass.’
But the fact that we don’t talk about it is perpetuating the feelings of worry, guilt, shame, and isolation that a woman faces when she is dealing with a low-libido. These feelings can be tied directly to her conception that there is ‘something wrong with her.’
Contrary to this belief, low-libido is a prevalent issue for more than a significant number of women, and these negative feelings are a product of the stigma that surrounds a woman’s ‘abnormal’ sex drive. Talking about issues relating to our sex drives creates a network of support and is instrumental in getting rid of this unhealthy and unfair repression.
What is a normal female sex drive?
According to Kelli Young, an occupational therapist, sex therapist, and group psychotherapist “There really is no such thing as “normal” female sex drive. Women vary greatly in their desire for sex. What is important is a woman’s own subjective experience of the sex she is having, or not having. In medical terms, low sex drive, or “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” is defined as a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or interest in sexual activity that causes personal distress.”
A woman’s libido is controlled by hormones, nerves, blood supply, and stimulation, both physical (e.g. touch) and psychological (e.g. fantasy or imagery). Problems or deficiencies in any of these systems can negatively affect a woman’s sexual satisfaction and in turn her desire for sex. Low libido can result when a woman is having difficulties becoming aroused. If a woman is not adequately aroused, she is unlikely to reach the sexual peaks necessary to trigger orgasm and the sense of relaxation that often follows.
Lack of arousal can be caused by or associated with insufficient vaginal lubrication, which can in turn lead to vaginal irritation or pain, and may even trigger vaginal or urinary tract infections. When sex is unfulfilling or painful, a woman is unlikely to desire it, and may begin to avoid it.
Given the well-established link between sexual function and overall health, it is important to address issues pertaining to low-libido. It is difficult, though, to address an issue that is plagued by a social taboo. The vicious cycle continues when we play by this taboo’s rules and never address the issue at hand. At femMED, we strongly believe that a woman’s most important asset is her health, and so it is something that she should nurture as best she can. One of the first steps in taking care of issues related to libido involves simply opening up about it. We want to open a dialogue about libido, and stop the stigma that surrounds it in its tracks. That our libido level fluctuates throughout our lives is a normal part of being a woman, and so it is also something that we should be comfortable with. If you are experiencing a change in your libido, talk about it. You might find the person you’re opening up to is facing a similar issue. If they’re not, they will know that there is someone there if and when it becomes a problem that they face.
One of the main benefits of discussing libido-related issues with other women, other than emotional support, is that we can share our strategies for dealing with it. Although there is no Viagra for women, there are a number of things we can do to take our sex drives back into our own hands. femMED Libido is one of our best selling products, and we have received an enormous amount of positive feedback from happy women (and their husbands!) who have used it to reclaim their sex drives.
There are a number of other home-remedies that Kelli Young discusses in this blog post. If you find any of these suggestions helpful, or if you have one of your own to share with us, please share it in the comments section- or send it in a private message through Facebook or our website.
We all know that dealing with body issues we’ve never experienced before is hard. What’s even harder is experiencing them alone, and not knowing what to do. In the case of low-libido especially, ignoring and burying this aspect of being a woman is not healthy. By talking about libido and making it a viable topic of conversation with your friends or medical professionals, you can play a part in beating the silence associated with a very common, very normal problem.