A decrease in libido can lead to many marital problems, from psychological to physical. Sex releases tension, lowers blood pressure, increases positive moods, and balances hormones, among many other positive factors.
It is more common for women to experience a lack of sex drive at some point in their lives than men. While few studies prove women show lower libidos, higher levels of testosterone may be responsible for higher sex drives.
Although you want to feel sexual desire towards your husband, something could be blocking you. Try not to blame yourself, as many factors contribute to a decreased sex drive.
From hormonal to emotional, and maybe even physical, your lack of drive may not be due to a lack of love; it may not even be your fault.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Regardless of the cause of your decreased sex drive, the best way to find solutions is to quit blaming yourself and be honest and open with your partner. But how can you be honest if you don't know what's wrong?
Explaining what you don't know could help you work through this issue together, creating a stronger emotional bond along the way.
While many sexual problems require a doctor or therapist to help you sort through, you may just need to sit down with yourself and ask questions. Becoming curious about your sex drive can help you find answers just beyond reach.
Are You Hormonal?
Have you been experiencing irregular periods, vaginal dryness, weight gain, breast tenderness, and even acne? While these may seem like normal PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms, they're also signs of a hormonal imbalance.
Hormonal imbalances are when your body releases too much or too little of something. The higher your sex hormones are, the more desire for sex you'll feel. If your body is releasing fewer sex hormones than normal, your libido will go down.
Next time you're at the doctor's, ask him to test your hormone levels, specifically testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Your doctor can search for underlying problems and better assist you in your sexual struggles.
Have You Experienced Trauma in Your Life?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that stems from past traumatic events. Have you felt unusually depressed, experienced nightmares, had difficulty sleeping, or suffered from chronic pain lately? You may be experiencing some form of this condition.
PTSD stores memories in a different part of your brain than everyday memories and releases uncomfortable hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol when something triggers these memories, consciously or subconsciously.
If your trauma is related to sex, then this could be the reason for your decreased sex drive
But why is the lack of sexual desire happening now when it's never happened before? PTSD can cause many problems at any time, especially if you've been sexually assaulted without an apparent cause.
While there may not be recognizable triggers in your current life that redirect your mind to the past, it doesn't mean triggers don’t affect you. Something as small as a particular smell, tone of voice, or a vibe you get from someone else can trigger PTSD reactions.
Are You Depressed?
Depression and feeling depressed are different. If you're sad, you'll experience overwhelming sadness temporarily, but depression involves a low mood making it difficult to engage in routine tasks such as getting out of bed.
Are you consistently sad? How long have you felt a low mood? Do you know what triggered it? Depression makes it hard to focus on anything and can affect your eating habits, sleeping patterns, and relationships.
A depressive disorder (major, melancholy, bipolar, or seasonal [SAD]) can eventually change the brain if it goes too long without treatment. Sometimes, hormonal imbalances contribute to depression, in which you lack serotonin and dopamine.
While sex increases feel-good hormones, it's temporary unless you engage in sexual activity regularly. Although it's challenging to engage in an activity you're not interested in regardless of your mental health, depression links to low libido because of hormonal imbalances.
Have You Lacked Self-Care?
Everyone needs self-care and love, whether it’s putting makeup on or spoiling yourself with a tasty treat or expensive clothing. The fact is, if you're not feeling good about yourself, how can you focus on enjoying sex?
A lack of self-care usually correlates with low self-esteem, stress, and lower confidence. The contributing factor leading to the lack of self-care may stem from a mental or even physical condition.
While the solution to this problem is easier said than done, self-care is important to maintaining positive and healthy relationships.
How Was Your Relationship Before Your Libido Decreased?
Remember when you first got together with your husband and were in the honeymoon stage of your relationship? You must have had more sex than you ever had in your life.
As you became familiar and comfortable with each other, your sexual activity may have slowed, and so did your desire. Ask yourself: what's different now? Have you fallen into a slump? Do you do the same things for each other as before?
Too often, marriages fall apart because people get comfortable and don't make much effort to grow the relationship any further.
The lack of your sex drive could simply be that you know your husband too well, or worse: you don’t know him at all. People change over time, and a reevaluation of your relationship could help increase your sex drive
Further Reading: Reasons why you should leave a sexless marriage
Ways to Increase Your Sex-Drive
After you realize or understand why your sex drive has decreased, you can begin to solve the problem. Keep in mind that sex is supposed to be enjoyable. don't engage in anything you don’t want to do or are uncomfortable with. It is more common for women to lack sex drive than men, so you could just be experiencing a difference in preference.
Make Sure You're Happy With Yourself
It's super important that you're making yourself happy. Whether you spend time reading a good book, engaging with your pets, or being with people who make you feel good, happiness with yourself will allow you to make others happy as well.
Sometimes the solution to low sex drive is making yourself look and feel better. As comfortable and addicting as it is to lounge around in pajamas all day, you could try on an old dress that you haven't worn in a while, or get some vitamin D.
Some more things you can do to make yourself feel better are:
- Be productive; clean your house or start a project
- Learn a new hobby such as crochet, or play a musical instrument
- Plan your future and create small goals on how to achieve your purpose
- Write or journal
- Draw or color
- Go for lunch
- Get dolled up “just because”
Address Your Emotional Feelings
A lowered libido is often due to the lack of desire stemming from decreased mood or unwanted feelings. If depression, anxiety, stress, and medical reasons are not what is triggering your lack of sex drive, try to define what you're feeling and why.
Take note that your feelings do not define you. It's easy for emotions to take over, but regaining control through logical reasoning can make you happier and boost your mood.
Some things you can try to tackle involuntary emotions are:
- Read self-help books
- Seek therapy or professional advice
- Research emotional and mental health solutions
- Communicate with your husband about your feelings—even if you don't understand them yourself
Get Out of Your Head
Many women experience lower sex drive no matter their age due to the inability to get out of their heads. You may be constantly thinking about the “what-ifs,” and feel sexual pressures to perform or please.
Mental filtering, mind reading, future-telling, and all-or-nothing thinking are some of the cognitive distortions your mind battles daily. While some cognitive distortions aren't easy to ignore, they also aren't impossible to notice and let go of.
You shouldn't ignore your thoughts. You must acknowledge that you have these thoughts, but they aren't permanent, nor do you have to give them much, if any, of your attention. Try meditation, yoga, or behavior therapy if you struggle to get out of your head.
While it may seem counterintuitive, masturbation increases libido because the more pleasure we give ourselves, the more we want to experience pleasure. Finding out what makes you feel good in an environment you can control can help you look forward to doing it in other scenarios.
If you're uncomfortable discussing with your husband that you'll be masturbating without him, keep it a secret until you see results. Just make sure that you'll tell him at some point; keeping secrets won’t help your relationship!
There are many benefits to masturbation that can kickstart your sexual desire. Start slow, and work your way up to adding props and toys. Eventually, your husband can replace those once again.
Communication is key to a healthy and happy relationship. Often, a lack of sex can cause resentment, agitation, and even anger in your partner. Keep an open and honest communication level with your man to avoid negative feelings and behaviors cropping up in both of you.
Part of healthy communication is listening and hearing what your partner says and then validating their thoughts and feelings. If your conversation starts to feel heavy, simply request to discuss it later and do something else until you are both ready.
Take it Slow
Since women are more emotionally cognisant than men, they need to feel secure and get out of their heads during sex. After communicating your needs, take your sexual experience slow. Try different positions. Use a safety word. Visualize. Whatever it takes for you to feel safe and comfortable.
Most importantly, communicate your needs. If it hurts, say something. If it's too slow or too rough, move or guide him. Do what makes you feel good. Also, never be too afraid to say, “This isn't working tonight. We'll try again later or tomorrow.”
Ultimately, having a low sex drive is not the end of the world. While it may be frustrating for your partner, what matters most is how you take care of yourself and your needs.
Despite the many causes of a lowered sex drive, your sexual health is just as important as your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
Take care of yourself first, and soon you’ll be able to take care of what goes on in the bedroom.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.