One of the most common problems to be diagnosed with if you are a woman over forty living in the United States is low libido. I have to qualify this statement because the problem of low libido is a common problem in the United States, but not so problematic in other countries. The U.S. is also very youth driven and not only do Americans have difficulty aging, they seem somewhat shamed about it. When you compare our culture to Asian Cultures or to Europe you will notice a strong difference. Women in Japan don’t know what a hot flash is, and in Italy you wouldn’t have to look far to see a fifty to sixty year woman flaunting what she has on a nude beach. In the U.S. her counterpart may do the same but not without her share of surgical scars, implants, and other adjustments. This brings us to the fundamental problems of low libido. The emotional effects of low libido don’t only affect the woman herself, but they affect her partner and her children because like it or not, we are teaching the next generation how to age and remain vibrant.
My work as an intimacy/sex counselor has taught me that intimacy and sex have a huge impact on a person’s health, managing their stress, their relationship and their self-esteem. Sex and intimacy only become a problem in life when one of these three areas is not functioning as they should. The physical side of low libido is complicated. Medicine has determined the possible causes and the list includes: arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, neurological diseases, and infertility can also lower low sex drive. Along with medical illnesses, causes can stem from medications taken such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs, antihistamines, and birth control pills. Vices people use can also cause low libido such as alcohol and drug abuse, which includes marijuana. Obesity can affect blood sugar levels which influences sex drive, and is a huge libido killer. Many women don’t understand as little as five pounds can make a huge difference to their libido. Not only medically but also emotionally, because women’s self-esteem is wrapped up in how they feel about their body.
Just as impactful as the medical aspects of low libido are the emotional aspects. Whenever I lecture for a group of women low sex drive consumes a big part of their conversation, and they liken it to menopause or getting older. This concerns me, because there is a cause and effect thinking that as women grow older their sex drive will decline. Women all over the United States accept this as part of their reality. They should not. When we have a culture telling our youth this happens, and we tell ourselves it happens we begin to wait for it to happen. Is it any wonder it does happen? To be sure hormonal imbalances change the way a woman feels about sex, her body, her life, and her partner. But accepting a low sex drive because you are a certain age is the same as accepting diabetes drugs to control your blood sugar level when you could change your diet, lifestyle, and exercise regime, and feel better about yourself and manage your blood sugar without medications or minimized medications.
Addressing the emotional causes of low libido should be the first step you take in addressing why you no longer desire sex, your partner, or your intimate life.
1. How is your mental health? Anxiety and depression must be ruled out.
2. Stress level. Do you have stress regarding work, finances or lack of sleep?
3. Poor body image (do you feel less attractive)?
4. Low self-esteem. Did you just lose a job or is one of your children floundering?
5. A history of physical, verbal or sexual abuse lowers libido.
Relationship problems must also be ruled out prior to asking your doctor for help with medical interventions.
1. Do you feel emotionally connected to your partner? Physical distance is not as important as emotional distance.
2. Are there unresolved conflicts or do you fight about the same things and feel hopeless after?
3. Does your relationship suffer from not being able to talk about your sexual needs or preferences without feeling shamed?
4. Infidelity is a huge libido killer and it takes a long time to mend the emotional aspects of cheating. Cheating is not just sex; it can be a betrayal on any level.
Speaking with a counselor in regards to any of these issues you find yourself struggling with can help put the zing back into your relationship. If your libido is low and you are strong and together as a couple, then it is wise to seek help from an Urologist specializing in sexual dysfunction. Many women ask their general gynecologist for help in this area. However, an Urologist specializing in sexual dysfunction is more specialized, and pursues more of the tests necessary to accurately diagnose the problem of women suffering from low libido.
Men and women suffer equally from the emotional and relationship affects of low libido. Women who believe men have it easier in this area or that men aren’t emotional may be surprised to know my counseling practice has a higher ratio of men who suffer than women. It is clear that when one of the partners isn’t happy with their sex life, both partners are negatively affected. –Mary Jo Rapini
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Tags: Low Libido, Sex, Relationships, Causes of Low Libido, Self-Esteem, Body Image, Stress