Q: I have no sex drive. I miss it. How can I get it back?
A: Thankyou for your question, not wanting sex or feeling sexual is normal throughout life. Our libido or sex drive is not a constant throughout our life. It is influenced by how well we feel, what’s happening in our lives, hormone levels and how connected we are to our bodies. Juggling everyday life in a way that leaves energy and space for that in our life can feel near on impossible. We are constantly stressed and tired, our bodies get used to being in ‘fight or flight’ mode and we produce adrenaline and prolactin to keep us going. I am sure you were aware of the part adrenaline plays in getting you through the day (that and caffeine) but prolactin or the ‘the celibacy hormone’ is released when we are under stress as well and it dampens sex drive (it also explains why some of those that are pregnant, or breast feeding have little interest in sex). Also, when we are running around taking care of everything and everyone else, we become disconnected from our bodies and our sexual energy, driving forces that empowers us and helps us get things done and both worthy of nurturing.
So, what are some of the physical factors that can impact your libido? They can include;
- Hormonal changes – pregnancy, breastfeeding, contraception, and menopause. Studies show that 30-50% of women are hit by a drop in sex drive for longer periods of time and may have related issues such as orgasm problems or painful sex.
- Stress from overwork and looking after children and ageing relatives is typical in our 30s/40s.
- Medication such as anti-depressants can also affect libido.
- So can excessive dieting – our bodies need a certain level of fat for sex hormones to function normally.
How can I get my libido back?
- Good news is that you can kick start it.
- First place to start if it has been an issue for 6 months or more is to see you GP. This is just to double check there are no physical reasons for the change. It can be a combination of psychological and physical, so it is well worth the check. Getting your thyroid and hormone levels tested, discuss any medications you take regularly to see if they can be having an impact (including contraception) and if necessary, ask if there are alternatives. In the case of painful sex because of menopause a discussion about HRT even localised (vaginal oestrogen) or trying a quality lubricant can help. Testosterone plays a key role in desire, yes even in women. It is a test that you can ask for when you are getting your hormones tested. Not all doctors agree on testosterone HRT for women and there is evidence for both sides. It is worth having a conversation with, as it has helped many women (including me at one point) to get their libidos back. Your doctor is the best person to talk to about all of this and if they are not very helpful then remember you can always try another doctor.
- Boredom! Yes, boredom can be a reason why your libido is MIA. The question is it really your libido or are you just bored with your sex life? This applies to anyone and everyone. Try something new – sexuality workshops, toys and tantric retreats, erotica can all be great ways to reconnect with your body and explore your fantasies.
- Communicate with your partner. I write about this a lot but in the case of a lost libido it is very important to talk to your partner and tell them what is going on. Don’t leave them in the dark. You can read more communication and libido tips in these articles in the Bliss Journal.
- Be mindful – you can track your libido the way you track your cycle. You can look at in relation to your cycle, the highs and lows in your cycle and whether they are in line with a natural rise in LH (luteinising hormone) at ovulation – it is an interesting theory some being explored in research. If you don’t have a cycle, you can still track your libido and look for connections with what is going on in your life. It can help you form a picture as to what has the greatest impact for you, what helps and what doesn’t. Masturbation is also good mindfulness exercise and yes masturbation can help you reconnect to your body but it can also help kick start you libido.
- You can also explore;
- Herbal medicine.
- Move more, spend more time in your body moving.
- Have a pelvic floor assessment to see if strengthening your pelvic floor is right for you. If it is it can help improve sensation and increase the strength on your orgasms. Doing the right exercises for you, in the correct way is important which is why I suggest the pelvic physiotherapist assessment, and this applies to everyone.
- Get creative, indulge your creative side.
- Masturbate, I know I said that before, but it really is important and can be a game changer for people wanting to improve their libido.
- Look at your diet, the foods you eat can influence the hormones and neurotransmitters that influence your libido.
- Indulge some luxury even if it is homemade sensual massage oils.
This really is a common question. Getting your physical checks and addressing anything that comes from that is an important first step. Then you can work through some of the tips on your own or you could work with a sexologist like me or someone else qualified in your area.
Try talking to your GP, gynaecologist, pelvic physiotherapist, endocrinologist, urologist, sex therapist, counsellor or coach can help.
If you have a question that you would like to get Jodie to answer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jodie West is our CEO and Resident Sexologist at Bliss. Jodie is known for initiating Taboo conversations about women's health & sexuality. Her own health challenges & the changes they brought about in general life & sex life were the catalysts for taboo smashing projects that have made & continue to make changes in the landscape of women's health in Australia.