By Dr. Michael B. Finkelstein, M.D., F.A.C.P., A.B.H.M.,
"I used to enjoy making love with my husband but now it's something I do to appease him. I can't figure out where my sex drive went or how to get it back."
"Once my partner and I 'get started,' I really enjoy sex, the problem is I'm just never in the mood."
"I always thought my husband and i would be making love until we were 90. But I'm 39 and my libido is non-existent!"
If these concerns sound familiar, you're not alone. Experts say that a lack of interest in making love, even with partners we adore, is not as unusual as we might think. "A disappearing sex drive is a common problem, sometimes in women as young as their 30's. While it has not yet reached epidemic proportions, I think we're only seeing a small portion of the women who are affected," says Rebecca Amaru, MD, a gynecologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
In one global study of sexual problems published recently in the Journal of Impotence Research, up to 43% of women expressed a loss of sexual desire, as beginning as young as age 40. Similarly, up to 36% of women who were having sex reported they weren't enjoying it.
Understanding Your Sex Drive - Or Lack of It:
For some women, low sex drive, or even the inability to have sex, is linked to specific problems. According to renowned sex therapist, NYU professor Virginia Sadock, MD, this can include illness, medications or sometimes even a specific physical problem related to intercourse.
"It can also be the result of hormonal changes that begin in the 40's. A lack of lubrication, for example, makes sex less comfortable and, over time, that can dampen desire," says Christiane Northrup, MD, author of The Wisdom of Menopause (Hay House).
When low sex drive is health-related, experts say, the solution is easy, "For some women all it takes is a little dab of lubricant or estrogen cream on the clitoral area. You can't believe how many women suffer, not realizing how easy this problem is to solve." says Northrup. But while for some women the answer might be as close as that tube on the nightstand, Sadock says, for many others the lack of libido is intimately linked to the complex emotional algorithm that makes up a woman's sex drive. "If a woman is upset, confused, tired, if she is feeling overworked and under appreciated, even if she is not consciously aware of some problems within her relationship, I can promise you that a tube of lubricant is not going to be enough to maker her feel like having sex." says Sadock.
What's going on here?
Indeed, if sex is the principle vehicle for intimacy between a couple, than the importance on sex becomes so over inflated that it will never suffice. The fact is, intimacy must be cultivated after the initial fire dies down.
Even in the cases where medical or physical conditions are a factor, the importance of non-physical intimacy cannot be ignored for long. This is why I recommend that couples regularly engage in other activities that breed togetherness. This can include playing a game, whether if it's on a board or a court, hiking, painting or gardening. There are a myriad of exciting activities that bring people together to share their lives that will create balance in the relationship and that are not so dependent on "performance," particularly when performance expectations are unnaturally raise through the media and other images that abound.
For any of the situations mentioned above, I would strongly urge these couples get outdoors and pursue a mutual passion, or find one! Alternatively, appreciating or creating art in one of its many variations can bring passion, love and beauty into the relationship. There is no down side, so what are you waiting for?