Google is the place we go to ask the questions we don’t want to ask our friends over dinner.
According to The Guardian, the question ‘why don’t I enjoy sex?’ is one of the most commonly googled queries. And it’s women asking the question.
The reality that women are googling it, yet very few seek professional advice, is perhaps the first clue as to why women have a complicated relationship with their sexuality.
Dr Nikki Goldstein, a sexologist and relationship expert as well as the host of podcast Sex and Life, tells Mamamia that it all begins with the way women frame sex. If you have too much of it, you’re a ‘slut’, and if you avoid it, you’re a ‘prude’. Sex is culturally understood to be an act done by men to women – and thus we often deprive ourselves of sexually agency.
“Women go into relationships enjoying sex,” Goldstein says, “and then it starts to feel like an obligation.” Why? Because we’ve put our sexual pleasure on the back burner.
At the beginning of relationships, women see a spike in their libido. Many couples know the feeling of not being able to keep your hands off each other, having sex multiple times a day and still wanting more.
But, according to Dr Ginni Mansberg, a doctor who specialises in women’s health and appeared on Australia’s Embarrassing Bodies, that level of sexual desire is simply impossible to maintain.
“There are not many couples who have been together for many, many years who have the same libido as they once did. I just don’t see that,” she explains to Mamamia.
Women’s libido is far more complex than men’s, both doctors tell me. Whereas men’s sexual drive is largely physiologically driven, there’s much more that goes into female sexual desire.
A mismatch in libido between partners is common if not somewhat inevitable, and it is constantly changing.
And the first thing is to make sure you do not feel guilty about that.
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“Why don’t I want to have sex?”
There are a myriad of answers to this question.
The first is that if you’ve been in a relationship for a while, then the reality is you’re not going to be jumping out of your skin with desire.
According to Dr Mansberg, it’s time we “downgrade our expectations”.
“Don’t wait to be stricken by desire. If that’s your only criteria for having sex, goodbye sex life. As long as when you do have sex, you’re enjoying it… and being with him doesn’t make you physically feel sick.”
Popular culture is littered with imagery of mind-blowing passionate sex, when for most couples, that isn’t what sex looks like.
But in some cases, having absolutely no sex drive can be a sign of hormonal changes. For example, during pregnancy, or following the birth of a baby, women might find their libido significantly drops. The same occurs during menopause.