I used to be eager for sex, easily aroused. My desire dipped after menopause and now barely exists. I can go weeks or more without desiring sex or thinking much about it. The funny thing is, if I get started, I like it, but it’s so hard to get in the mood.
The number one sex problem that I hear from women is the lack of desire for sex. They do still enjoy sex once they get started, they tell me, but they’re seldom in the mood ahead of time. It isn’t just a problem for women—many men also report decreased desire—but for women, it’s the primary complaint. The problem is that if we wait for the mood and don’t make sexual pleasure a priority, we’ll rarely have sex.
There are lots of reasons that you may be feeling decreased desire, but let’s cut to a solution that works first, and figure out the reasons afterward:
Instead of waiting for the mood, start getting yourself sexually aroused—on your own, with a partner, or with a vibrator. Just do it. The physiological arousal will trigger the emotional desire.
That’s the opposite of the way it used to work! When we were younger, our hormone-induced sex drive bombarded our brain and body with desire—especially during our most fertile times. This was simple biology. A glance, a thought, a murmur, a fantasy, or a touch sparked the mood. Once in the mood, we opened ourselves to the pleasures of physiological arousal. We got turned on, our arousal built, and we crashed joyously into orgasm.
But now, this all works the other way around. Instead of waiting forever for the mood to strike, we can induce the mood by letting ourselves get physiologically aroused as the first step. Arousal will lead to mood and desire, instead of vice versa.
Here are your new mantras:
- Desire follows action.
- Use it, don’t lose it.
- Just do it.
“You may have just saved my marriage,” a woman told me after I gave this suggestion at a presentation. Try it—you may feel the same!
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to approach our sexuality in this new way: Relax, start getting physically aroused, emotional arousal will happen, and voila, we’ll be in the mood. So the key is to commit to regular sexual pleasure, partnered or solo.
How does this translate to real life? Here are some tips:
- Schedule sex dates with your partner and/or with yourself at least weekly, more is even better.
- Exercise before sex for faster arousal and easier orgasms.
- Create rituals with your partner that signal sex would be welcome.
- Allow plenty of arousal time — no rushing, no goals except pleasure.
- Make sexual arousal and orgasm a habit, whether you’re partnered or on your own.
“Lonely in Thirties” posted a comment to another post, and what she said is so important that I’m repeating it here so I can address her points. This reader is 38 and has been with her husband, age 42, since she was 17. She writes,
My husband used to want to have sex every day if not more often. I did not want it as often but tried my best to accommodate him for many years. Around the time I turned 35, I noticed a huge jump in my sex drive, I would say 3 times a day, every day, would now satisfy me. All I think about is sex and my orgasms are explosive, usually having multiples back to back.
Her reason for writing is her disappointment with her husband, who no longer wants to have sex as often, mainly only on the weekends. She writes,
I am very frustrated. I thought this is what he wanted all these years, a wife who wanted to have sex as often as he did. He claims he still wants me and wants to have sex but, gives a long list like I used to as to why “now” is not a good time. Is there any hope his sex drive will return?
It seems unfair to give myself to a man all these years and not have him reciprocate. I feel resentful, rejected, and hurt. I have always been faithful to him. However, I admit I fantasize about an affair or even leaving my husband for a younger more virile man. It would be nice to have a man keep up with me, not fall asleep on me. Yet having been with one man so long, I worry that a younger man would not find me attractive, or only want me just for sex. Is this true? Are there sexy men out there in their twenties that want a woman my age?
If I end up staying with my husband I think I should to go back on the pill or something to rid myself of my sex drive. I’d rather not have one then to feel this way. Is this it? If I stay with him will I be subject to years more of frustration?
It’s impossible to say whether her husband’s sex drive will increase again, or whether a younger man would find her attractive (I suspect he would!), but there are a couple of other important issues here besides the obvious difference in sex drives. I wish I could ask Lonely in Thirties these questions:
1. How was communication about sex before your desire changed? Could you each ask for what you wanted? Were you able to talk about what turned you on? How do you communicate about being interested in more sex now? If you have trouble communicating, a counselor could help you break through the barriers and gain a much better understanding of each other and the relationship, as well as this specific desire disparity issue.
2. Have you explored solo sex? Your own fingers and, if you like, a vibrator, would let you enjoy your orgasms, whether or not your husband was in the mood. If you’re considering infidelity, try fantasies and pleasuring yourself first. You may find that you can enjoy yourself with deep satisfaction without risking your marriage.
Lonely, if you return to this blog and read this, I hope you’ll comment again. Although you’re younger than most readers of this blog, your concerns are those that many readers (both men and women) have, and I welcome you to our community.