Libido

Your libido is your sexual interest and desire. Loss of libido may be experienced by women before or after menopause and may result in reduced desire and sexual experiences that are no longer satisfying or pleasurable. Loss of libido is a very sensitive issue and often occurs because of stress, tiredness, relationship difficulties, or mood problems. It can also be caused by a variety of medications used to treat unrelated conditions.

Rest, relaxation, recreation and exercise can all have positive effects on libido, as well as health, bones, moods, and general wellbeing. With greater awareness, knowledge and discussion about sexual health issues, more women are seeking advice for low libido from health practitioners.

The factors that do influence libido are discussed by psychologist, Dr Mandy Deeks PhD, in her “10 tips for understanding and improving your libido“.

10 tips for understanding and improving your libido

1.  What influences your libido? Hormones, illness, medication and the state of your relationships can all influence your libido. Your personality and history of sexual realtionships, as well as society’s expectations and attitudes to sex, can also play a part. Is there one thing that has influenced your libido or many things?
2. Assess your own libido Some people want to participate in sexual activities all the time, while others never think about it and wouldn’t care if they never had sex again. Low libido is only a problem if you perceive it to be so. If your libido level worries you or is very different to your partner’s and causes you distress, you may want to seek some advice as to what you can do about it. Ask yourself what level of libido would you be happy with?
3. Why do you have sex? Lust or desire is only one reason why we have sex. Sometimes we do it to create intimacy, or because it’s fun and pleasurable. Sometimes it’s because we it makes us feel special, or to reproduce, and sometimes even to avoid conflict. Think about the reasons you have sex.
4. As time goes on  When we first get together with our partner there is often lots of sex and intimacy, but it’s natural for desire levels to fall away after the ‘honeymoon’ period. It’s very important to understand this and know that there is nothing wrong with you if the desire levels fall over time. Has your desire for sex fallen with time? How do you feel about this?
5. Understand the physical We often have sexual relationships without really knowing what happens to our bodies when we become intimate. When we experience a problem with sex it can be helpful to understand what happens physically during sexual activity, where things can go wrong and what we can do to improve our sex life.
6.  Is there a difference between men and women Many women (not all) prefer talking, emotional intimacy and being romanced to sex. Many men (not all) tend to be less affected by a bad day or fatigue, and respond to spontaneity, visual stimulation, or just having a willing partner. It can be helpful to understand these generalisations and discuss any differences in libido with your partner.
7. Stop comparing Don’t worry about when or how often others have sex. What’s important is whether you and partner are happy with your level of sexual activity. Do you compare?
8. Watch out for depression and anxiety One in five Australian adults experience anxiety or a depressive disorder, which can impact negatively on libido. If you’re suffering from a mood disorder it’s important that you seek help. Is your mood impacting on your sex life?
9. It’s okay not to always feel desire when you have sex: put time aside for sex  It’s ok to have sex even if you don’t feel lust or desire. It can be important to put time aside for a date night and sex for example. Remember there are many reasons to have sex: because it creates intimacy, it is pleasurable etc. The important things are that there is no coercion, abuse or pain and you find sexual activity enjoyable.
10. Seek help if you need to If you’re worried about your libido or it’s causing you problems, seek professional help, either alone or, if appropriate, with your partner, from a health practitioner or specialist psychologist.

Dr Mandy Deeks PhD, The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health

Because libido is dependent on so many things it is worth paying attention to them. These include what we think about our partner (if we have one), our own body image, what’s going on in our lives and our past experiences with sex.

Testosterone is one of the factors that affect libido. Sometimes added testosterone in the form of a cream or implant is suggested, although this has yet to be approved formally for use in women and further research is needed. There are many good books available and a consultation with your GP or a psychologist may help.

The important thing to remember is that just because one person has a lower level of libido than their partner doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong with them – it is only when it’s viewed as a problem that further help can be sought.

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