I’ve been married to a man I love for four years and have completely lost interest in sex. I have no urges; in fact I have come to detest the very idea of sex. I used to like it. I’ve never been raped or sexually abused.
My husband arranged for us to see a counsellor about a year ago and she said we should schedule sex in once a week. Like I’d be standing at the bench peeling spuds thinking, “Woo hoo, tonight’s the night” and somehow that was going to make all the difference? Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work so we stopped going to her.
I read your column and I’m wondering would a sex therapist do anything differently? I feel so bad. Is there hope for finding a lost libido? Yes, absolutely you can resurrect your sexual energy and pleasure. The first thing a sex therapist would do is make a thorough assessment that would include getting to know you two and the relationship you have built so far, how sex was at first, how it has changed over the years, what you’ve each made of that and how each of you has reacted.
Sex takes place, or not, in the context of a relationship so we look at the whole dance of intimacy – respect, consideration, engagement, loving acts, playfulness, excitement, fair division of labour and time for rest versus the omission of any of these things and resentment.
We’d also be looking with you at your physical and mental health because stress, low iron, depression, guilt and many other factors, along with any drugs you’re taking, can hit libido hard. Finally, we’d be assessing each of your experiences at progressing through the developmental milestones of sexuality. That would allow us to formulate a plan for moving forward in ways desirable to you both.
In support of scheduling, even though it may feel weird, if you keep waiting for spontaneous arousal you’re just going to get more of the same disinterest and dislike. Once you two, with help, have been able to establish some kind of sensual/sexual play you can look forward to, making space for it maybe three times a week (once is not enough!) and learning to use your brain to savour the anticipation will be part of effectively rebuilding your sexual aliveness and pleasure.