Low Sexual Desire
Low sexual desire or desire incompatibility between partners is the most common presenting problem that I see in my sex therapy practice. A common myth surrounding low sexual desire is that it is predominantly a female issue. In reality, low sexual desire is experienced by both males and females. It is important to discern if the low sexual desire issue is chronic or acute. In other words, has the individual always experienced low desire or was it more of a gradual decline, perhaps following a specific life event.
Low sexual desire is different from no sexual desire, even though the manner in which both conditions present themselves could be slightly similar. People with no sexual desire have no sexual interest in their partners, and are also not receptive to their own private thoughts, fantasies or emotions related to sex. Also, people with no sexual interest or desire do not experience any emotional distress about their lack of sexual interest. On the other hand, individuals with low sexual desire are often inconsistently receptive to their partner’s attempts to initiate sex and have sporadic sexual desire in response to their private sexual fantasies, masturbation and at times, their partner’s advances.
Causes of low sexual desire
Surgical procedures such as hysterectomies and removal of the ovaries in women can result in low sexual desire. In such cases, if sexual desire was present before the procedure but declined after, hormone replacement might be needed to restore healthy desire.
Men experiencing low sexual desire that is chronic in nature should consult with a physician to check their testosterone levels. However, hormone replacement therapy in cases of low T has shown mixed results in improving sexual desire.
3. Chronic Illness & Disability-
A chronic illness or disability in one partner automatically impacts the frequency of sex in the couple and lowers sexual satisfaction.
It is common for couples to experience a decline in sexual activity during a pregnancy due to fatigue or other side effects of being pregnant such as nausea and weight gain. After the baby is born, sexual activity declines further due to hormonal fluctuations, fatigue resulting from caring for the newborn, vaginal or abdominal pain etc. This decline can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
Anti-depressants & anti-anxiety medications are known to cause low sexual desire. There are a host of other medications that have a similar impact such as medications for hypertension, allergies, seizures etc. It is important to inform your prescribing physician about any decline in sexual desire or any other side effects. In fact, it is imperative to ask questions about the side effects of the medicine being prescribed to you.
6. Sexual pain-
Women that have experienced any sexual pain or discomfort begin to avoid sex which in turn inhibits sexual desire.
7. Depression & Anxiety-
At times, low sexual desire is a symptom of depression. Anxiety can also get in the way of healthy sexual desire due to preoccupation with worry and fears.
1. Dissatisfaction with the relationship-
One of the major causes for low sexual desire among couples is dissatisfaction with the relationship. Feelings of resentment, anger, fear, anxiety often underlie low sexual desire. Couples that struggle with communicating their concerns about the relationship, often spend a lot of time blaming, criticizing and undermining each other which is certainly off-putting in terms of sexual desire.
Extramarital affairs, cheating, emotional & cyber infidelity result in feelings of lack of safety and trust in the relationship. As a result, the partner who is the injured party, loses all interest in sex. At times, the partner that caused the injury experiences low or no sexual interest because of feelings of guilt & self-loathing.
3. Emotional trauma-
Recent loss of a loved one, unresolved or ongoing grief, taking care of an aging or sick parent are some of many factors that can put your sex life on hold. Once the emotional aftermath of the traumatic event has subsided, sexual interest might reappear sporadically.
4. Lack of communication about sex-
Couples that are oblivious to their partner’s likes and dislikes about sex because they don’t feel comfortable communicating about their fantasies or turn-ons, often find themselves in low desire situations.
5. Intimacy concerns-
Fear of intimacy or vulnerability also impacts sexual desire. Because of early attachment wounds or past trauma in previous relationships, people begin to avoid intimacy and are very cautious in trusting their partner- sexually and emotionally.
Written by: Nagma V. Clark, Ph.D., L.P.C.C. specializing in sex therapy, couples therapy & marriage counseling, premarital counseling, individual relationship therapy & LGBTQQI couples counseling at Tri-Valley Relationship Therapy, Inc. in the East Bay, in Dublin & Oakland.
If you or your partner would like to enhance your sexual connection or need help with a sexual issue or concern, sex therapy at Tri-Valley Relationship Therapy, Inc. in the East Bay can help. Dr. Clark has advanced & specialized training in sex therapy and she has helped many couples & individuals resolve their sexual concerns.
Call 925-400-3541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30 minute phone consult or fill out the contact form and you will be contacted within 12-24 hours.