We’ve all seen the classic movie scene: Man and woman get into bed together, man makes sexual advances towards woman in bed, woman responds with the buzz killer, “I have a headache.” Man turns arounds in disappointment. End scene. The message that women make excuses to get out of having sex is one that is quite popular. But it does beg the question, WHY. Why do women opt out of the pleasurable activity that sex can be?
Most women who make excuses not to have sex, do so because their current partner has not been successful in making the experience pleasurable for them. And when there is no pleasure being derived, sex is really just a messy tangling of limbs and mingling of body fluids that hold little appeal. The desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many things affecting intimacy, including physical and emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle, and your current relationship. If you’re experiencing a problem in any of these areas, it can affect your desire for sex. Many times, the headache is just the woman’s way of saying, “this is not a pleasurable activity for me.” However, there may be some physiological reasons why a woman may not be interested in sexual activities; I discuss some of them below.
If you have pain during sex or can’t orgasm, it can reduce your desire for sex. Women with endometriosis make up a big part of this category. Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the womb gets deposited in other locations outside of the womb. This can sometimes cause problems like pain during sexual intercourse. Naturally, we want to avoid things that cause pain so if sex causes you pain, it is normal to want to abstain.
Vaginismus. Women who have vaginismus, (the tightening of vaginal muscles when penetration is attempted) are not able to experience pleasure from penetrative sex. For women with these issues, other forms of sex should be incorporated by their partners as this may help make the women more willing to consider penetrative sex.
Depression and other mental health problems.
This doesn’t refer to the occasional feeling of sadness or despair that your life isn’t going as planned. Depression is a serious illness that can impact every facet of your life, including your sex life. Women who suffer with depression tend to lose interest in activities which previously made them happy. Unfortunately, the catch-22 of this situation is this, some of the medications for treatment of depression can also cause loss of libido as a side effect. It is therefore important for women with this problem to be very observant of their symptoms and regularly update their doctor who may consider titrating the levels of medication until the right balance is achieved.
Note that stress is also a big libido killer. Many women (mothers especially) tend to lose interest in sex when they are under high levels of stress. Sometimes we do not realize how stressful it is to raise children, run a home, supervise domestic staff and hold down a job/run a business. If you have just spent a couple of hours in the kitchen, fixing dinner for your family after a long day at work; it is understandable if sex is the farthest thing from your mind.
Pregnancy, giving birth and breastfeeding.
Loss of interest in sex is common during pregnancy, after giving birth and while breastfeeding.
The whole process of conception to breast feeding is fueled by a cocktail of hormones and these hormones affect women differently. Some women may have a normal to increased sex drive during pregnancy while some may have low to no desire for sex.
Other reasons why women may not be keen to have sex during this period include:
- Changes to your body and issues with your body image.
- Painful sex caused by an injury, such as a cut or tear, during childbirth.
- Changed priorities, such as focusing on looking after your baby.
Childbirth can be a traumatic experience for some women, and it may take such women a lot of time and counseling before they consider resuming sexual activities. It is important for (male) partners to take this into consideration when trying to initiate sex postpartum.
Getting older and menopause.
Many men and women experience reduced libido as they get older.
There can be many reasons for this, including:
- Lower levels of sex hormones (estrogen) just before, during and after the menopause in women. This can translate to reduced vaginal lubrication therefore making sex less pleasurable.
- Age-related health problems, including mobility problems – joint problems occur very commonly with age, and when you’re worrying about pain in your hip joint, chances are you’d want to avoid any activity that would worsen your joint pain.
- Side effects of medicine – many medical conditions show up with age, including heart disease and some of the medicines used to treat these conditions may have reduced libido as a side effect.
There are treatments to increase hormone levels if low levels are causing problems, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with or without testosterone treatment for women going through the menopause.
Medicine and contraception.
Certain medicines can sometimes reduce libido, including:
- Medicine for high blood pressure.
- Many types of antidepressants.
- Medicine for seizures (fits), such as topiramate.
- Medicines called antipsychotics, such as haloperidol.
- Hormonal contraception, such as the combined hormonal contraception pill, patch or ring. the progestogen-only pill, the contraceptive implant and the contraceptive injection.
Everyone’s sex drive is different and there is no such thing as a “normal” libido, only what is normal for you. If you experience lack of interest in sex, consider having a discussion with your partner to identify any factors that may be causing your disinterest. If these factors are things that you can work on together, such as increased foreplay, improved communication, trust building activities, then your sex life may be on its way back from war.
However, if this problem continues or returns and causes personal distress, you may have a condition called sexual interest/arousal disorder. Try to not feel embarrassed about getting help. Lots of people experience problems with their sex drive and seeking advice can be the first step towards resolving the issue. The solution could be as simple as changing a medication you are taking and improving any chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
If you have any other concerns or require more information, feel free to check out this link below: