We all have natural differences in our sex drive, and whether you like to have sex everyday, once a week, or once a month, there is nothing inherently wrong with our diverse libidos. As long as you are okay with your natural levels of wanting to get it on, it's fine (exceptions may include an abrupt change of levels of desire as any abrupt change in the body may be indicative of other underlying medical causes.)
That said, a dwindling sex drive could be a real bummer—for ourselves and for our relationships. Many women come into the shop seeking a magic pill, but there is no one pill to "treat" this because there is not necessarily one cause. A decrease in sex drive can be caused by hormones, pain, stress, medications, relationship dynamics, self-image, and/or simply due to getting out of the habit of keeping the wheels greased, so to speak.
Furthermore, what "sex drive" actually means is up for interpretation. There is the spontaneous desire to have sex, but there is also a receptive desire to have sex. One may not feel the driving urge out of the blue, but when a partner "makes the first move," their own desire is receptively triggered. Really, there may not be as much of a distinction between these two forms of desire as it may seem. So called "spontaneous" desires can actually be a form of receptive desire if you take into account possible catalysts such as porn, a hot memory, imaginative anticipation of a sexy night, a suggestive looking cucumber, etc. The bottom line is: a receptive sex drive is still a sex drive.
There is also a distinction to be made between sexual desire and satisfying sex. The desire to have sex and/or arousal doesn't necessarily lead to satisfying sex and/or orgasms. If this is the case, it is not so much a matter of libido. To be fair, it is deeply intertwined though because consistently unsatisfying sex can quickly lead to lowered desire to have sex. So for practical purposes, it's helpful to treat these all as factors that play into our levels of sexual desire.
Let's start with medications. Many anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications can both lower sex drive and make it more difficult to have an orgasm. For many, the trade off is worth it. However, there may also be other options that one can discuss with their doctor such as scheduling "drug holidays." A very powerful vibrator can also help bust through the orgasm barrier in some of these cases.
Hormone levels can affect drive and quality of sex as well. Some women may experience a spike in sex drive after menopause, but others experience a disappearance of it. There are various hormone therapies one can speak to their doctors about, but it's important to understand if you are experiencing a diminishing sex drive or if you are experiencing less pleasurable or even painful sex because these may be treated differently. For example, many women's vaginal lining becomes increasingly thin which can lead to painful sex and even UTI's. Topical estrogen can work wonders to thicken the lining.
Hormones, medications, and or even dehydration can also "dry us out." A good quality lube is a good idea for all penetrative or even non-penetrative sex, but if we are not producing any natural lubrication at all, adding lube is absolutely essential. Not only can this eliminate friction-related pain and discomfort, but also lube can actively make sex more pleasurable. If you haven't ever used a good lube, you might be missing out.
Stress can also be another huge factor. It effects us on many levels: biochemically, energetically, and relationship-wise. Having a shopping list of urgent life administrative tasks we need to constantly attend to can easily eat up all our psychic space. Add to this, anxiety about money, health, children, and work, we may find ourselves having sex or even masturbating less and less frequently. We become less embodied and exist more in our "brain space." Basically, we become too distracted to have sex, think about sex, or even feel any desire for sex. This is a downward spiral, as our sexual selves are a type of muscle that needs maintenance- energetically and physically. The more we work it out, the more we remember the enjoyment, the more blood flow we're getting to our genitals, the more we discover new sexual pleasures, and so on.
Of course we can't avoid all of life's stresses, but we can get more pro-active in planning date nights with our partners or ourselves. Sex isn't necessarily a requirement for these date nights. It can even help to engage in other bodily and relationship building activities such as canoodling, massaging, or anything else that strengthens our body connections to ourselves and each other.
Along these same lines, getting into a "sexual rut" can have some of these same effects of disembodiment. When certain kinds of sex become routine, we become less mindful, more bored, which may again lead to a lower sex drive. Breaking out of the box can be a big help in this situation. Explore new positions, new techniques, new scenarios, new toys, new games, or new people. Sometimes attending a sex workshop alone can re-energize the same old routine because it's not about the specific sex, it's about the energy and mindfulness behind it.
Another ingredient that may contribute to a diminishing sex drive is relationship dynamics. If one is consistently unsatisfied with the kind of sex they are having, this can lead to tensions in other aspects of the relationship and vice versa. Some women express concern that they are unable to achieve orgasm but when questioned, it turns out that they orgasm just fine while masturbating. Hence, this would also be a relationship dynamic issue—not related to sex drive. But this is another large topic for another article.
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist, passionate about educating herself and on sexuality, communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, destigmatization, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St. You can reach her at 777-9434 or AllyBooker@Jellywink.com.