The libido, or sex drive, is a natural desire for sex. Sexual appetite can be influenced by such factors as health, mood, and emotional connection with your partner.
There is no one healthy standard for the libido. The range and particulars for each person are highly individual. Naturally high and naturally low sex drives are both normal. The libido can also fluctuate over time—for both healthy and unhealthy reasons.
People become aroused both mentally and physically, and develop different patterns of initiating sex. There is a difference between spontaneous sexual desire (you think about sex and get physically turned on) and responsive sexual desire (you engage in physical stimulation and become interested in taking things further as a result). Most of us respond to a combination of physical and mental arousal.
On a related note, some people are more comfortable initiating intercourse and “taking the lead” (likely dominant), and some are more comfortable responding (likely submissive). Having a preference for one or the other doesn’t indicate a higher or lower libido, just different needs for experiencing desire and pleasure. Partners who take the time to find out what turns each of them on deepen their relationship and potential for sexual satisfaction.
Desire is a precondition for consensual sex. Partners can have more compatible or less compatible libidos, and compromise is often necessary to ensure mutual satisfaction. If a person with high sex drive has a partner with low sex drive, masturbation may be a good option to satisfy cravings without burdening their partner with unwanted attention.
Sexual intimacy occurs when both partners are emotionally and physically available, and willing to participate.
There are four stages of physiological arousal:
The more synchronized partners are while progressing through these stages, the more natural the interaction feels and the more pleasurable the sex is. It is nearly impossible to be in perfect sync, so be considerate of what your partner is experiencing. And it is only fair that you expect them to do the same.
The libido is complex. We all have our highs and lows but sometimes a lack of sexual desire is directly tied to an emotional or psychological issue. There are a number of common problems that affect sex drive and intimacy.
Sex is not something to take lightly, but it’s also important let yourself have fun! You’ll find that the best sex is less dependent on skill and looks than on how comfortable you feel with the person you’re involved with.
Reaffirming positive associations with your partner is important for a lasting relationship. Affectionate behaviours such as hugging or kissing release a cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin (chemicals that facilitate bonding), and lower cortisol levels (which reduces stress and anxiety), promoting further affectionate behaviour. Likewise, sexual intimacy increases the desire for further sexual intimacy.
While the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” isn’t completely unfounded, physical separation is more likely to result in decreased sexual desire between partners.
For a healthy libido over the long-term, it’s important for both partners to be both emotionally and sexually satisfied as this is the basis for a healthy intimate relationship. Low or decreased sexual energy can be an issue if one partner is continually unresponsive to the other partner’s efforts to initiate sex.
A lack of libido may have nothing to do with your current partner. Sociological surveys and studies show that libido naturally declines over time. This process often begins earlier for women than for men, since the decrease in sex hormones happens in different ways and at a different pace for each gender.
An overall lack of libido can be a sign of mental disorder, such as SAD (sexual aversion disorder) or HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), also known as ISD (inhibited sexual desire).
An unhealthy state of mind can “block” sexual desire.
A person who experiences a lack of sexual desire sometimes maintains this condition either consciously or unconsciously. It can seem safer to keep oneself shut off from vulnerable emotions so as not to get hurt again. This temporary solution is quite likely to backfire, but it can be difficult to resolve alone. Confiding in a good friend or consulting a psychotherapist or sexologist may be helpful.
Your lifestyle has a big impact on hormone function. Taking care of yourself is imperative if you want to be physically, mentally, and sexually healthy.
Low libido isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people deliberately suppress their desire for spiritual or religious reasons. Others identify as asexual—they may experience romantic attraction, but not sexual desire. Being accepting of yourself may well play the most important role in enjoying your sexuality.
You can track your sex life using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now: