How do I tell him about my low sex drive?

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health - Sex ad­vice with Suzi God­son Send your queries to suzigod­son@mac.com

“Stress, de­pres­sion, low self-es­teem can all im­pact a woman’s ca­pac­ity to feel aroused

I have al­ways had a low sex drive. I have no prob­lem with it, but I am dat­ing a new man who I re­ally like. I won­der whether I should warn him be­fore he gets too ex­cited about what’s to come. I have no idea how to start this con­ver­sa­tion.

>> Low li­bido can be prob­lem­atic in re­la­tion­ships, but it can also be a symp­tom of re­la­tion­ship prob­lems. Poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion, feel­ing taken for granted, ig­nored or an­gry can have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on sex­ual de­sire. How­ever, not want­ing to have sex with a part­ner you are un­happy with is not a clin­i­cal con­di­tion.

You don’t say any­thing about pre­vi­ous part­ners, but since low li­bido is of­ten re­la­tion­ship spe­cific, it is worth wait­ing a bit to see how you feel with your new boyfriend. If you do feel more in­ter­ested in hav­ing sex with him than you have with pre­vi­ous part­ners, there would be lit­tle point in draw­ing at­ten­tion to the is­sue at this early stage.

If this per­sists, how­ever, you will need to dis­cuss it with him. When do­ing so, re­mem­ber that it is never a good idea to talk about sex­ual dif­fi­cul­ties when you are ac­tu­ally hav­ing sex. Nor is it good to bring it up dur­ing an ar­gu­ment, when ei­ther one of you is stressed, or if you have been drink­ing.

Iron­i­cally, the op­ti­mum time for a prob­lem­atic con­ver­sa­tion is when you are both happy and re­laxed. At those mo­ments it feels wrong to in­tro­duce some­thing that could po­ten­tially be a real downer, but ac­tu­ally, adding vul­ner­a­bil­ity to that par­tic­u­lar mix strength­ens rather than de­creases feelings of in­ti­macy. When you bring it up don’t just present him with the prob­lem. Ex­plain that there are all sorts of pos­si­ble so­lu­tions, too.

Fe­male de­sire is not straight­for­ward. It is a com­plex in­ter­ac­tion be­tween phys­i­cal and emo­tional well­be­ing, and if they are out of sync de­sire may be af­fected.

Ill­ness, dif­fi­cult life events, an un­healthy life­style, hor­monal fluc­tu­a­tions or med­i­ca­tion can all af­fect a woman’s li­bido, but once the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem is ad­dressed, de­sire for sex should re­turn. Hav­ing said that, the most com­mon cause so flow li­bido are psy­cho­log­i­cal. Stress, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, low self-es­teem and poor body im­age can all im­pact a woman’s ca­pac­ity to feel aroused.

If you have never done so, it would be worth your while sit­ting down with a pen and pa­per and iden­ti­fy­ing any po­ten­tial con­tribut­ing fac­tors that might play a part in your low li­bido. As an ex­er­cise, it will give you some clarity, and it will also make it eas­ier should you de­cide to dis­cuss the is­sue with your boyfriend. Some of the items that you iden­tify may re­quire a chat with a GP or a coun­sel­lor. Your GP can rule out phys­i­cal causes, such as changes in en­docrine hor­mones, with some sim­ple blood tests.

You don’t seem to be par­tic­u­larly both­ered about hav­ing low li­bido, which means that you wouldn’t meet the thresh­old for a di­ag­no­sis of hy­poac­tive sex­ual de­sire dis­or­der. This is de­fined as per­sis­tent de­fi­cient sex­ual fan­tasies and per­sis­tent de­fi­cient de­sire for sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, but low li­bido mer­its a clin­i­cal di­ag­no­sis only if it causes a woman marked dis­tress or cre­ates in­ter­per­sonal dif­fi­culty. You don’t meet those cri­te­ria, and be­sides, there is, as I said, a strong pos­si­bil­ity you will feel dif­fer­ently in this re­la­tion­ship.

Look af­ter your health, eat well, ex­er­cise and get plenty of sleep, all of which will ben­e­fit your mind, your body and your li­bido. Oth­er­wise, the best thing to do is to re­lax and en­joy your new ro­mance.

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