I Want to Want It

Friday, December 01, 2006

Question

I am a 24-year-old female in a great relationship. I enjoy sex (that is, I usually have an orgasm), but my sex drive is virtually nonexistent. I'm never the one who initiates sex, and I rarely get horny. It's like I am missing a hormone or something. I have been on the same birth-control pill since I was 18, so I don't remember if I even had a sex drive before that. I am not on any other medications, nor do I suffer from any depression. Could it be the pill? Are there types that have less of a side-effect? Are there any natural (herbal) ways of simulating more of a sex drive? I am jealous of my always-horny friends. Simply put

Answer

Loss of libido is a frequent side-effect of the birth-control pill. Talk to your doctor about this problem and ask if it would make any difference if you tried another brand. You could also ask him to see if your testosterone levels are normal, since this is the primary hormone that motivates both men and women to seek out sex. Some gynecologists are uncomfortable with the fact that an ostensibly "male" hormone could need supplementation in a woman's body. So you may have to do a little searching to find a doctor who thinks your libido is important enough to work with you to find a solution.

You might even want to go off the birth-control pill and use some other method, like a combination of cervical cap, condoms, and contraceptive foam, or an injection, or an IUD. Just be prepared for a couple of months of adjustment while your body realizes that it needs to regulate its own cycle without the dictatorship of the pill. You might feel blue or irritable and tired while this is happening. But getting it out of your system could uncover whole new worlds of experience for you—aspects of yourself that you haven't glimpsed since you were a teenager.

The chemicals that we have in our bodies are just one aspect of the libido, however. You also need to do a little (or a lot) of soul-searching. Are you having the kind of sex that really turns you on? Do you have strong sexual fantasies about activities that you have not experienced in real life? If so, perhaps you need to bring some of those ideas into your bedroom, provided of course that your partner agrees. I don't know if you have even discussed this issue with him, but I hope he would be open to any consenting activity that made the flames between you burn a little higher. Fantasies can range from wearing certain items of lingerie to changing positions during intercourse or oral sex, or perhaps to sex being more forceful or translated into a fantasy environment. Don't worry about feeling silly. Just give yourself some time and space to tune in to your own inner erotic universe.

I ask this knowing that some women do not have explicit sexual fantasies. They don't tell themselves X-rated stories in order to get more excited during masturbation or sex with a partner. Rather than using their imagination like a pornographic book of short stories, they become aroused by things in the real world. The feel of a partner's arms around them, his smell, a bit of music, the sound sheets make when they are crumpled beneath two bodies, a sensation of safety or anticipation—any of these could be a jumping-off point for arousal.

In other words, you may have to find your turn-on by starting to have sex before you feel a strong physical desire for it. Your path to erotic excitement may be different than that of your friends, who talk about constantly feeling horny. Taking your partner's shirt off, massaging his back, seeing the look in his eyes when you pull your sweater off, turning down the lights, actually touching his erection or feeling the wetness between your own legs—it's really okay if you don't feel a strong desire for sex unless it's clear that lovemaking could be consummated.

I would suggest that you start initiating sex even if you don't have an immediate desire for intercourse or some other type of orgasm. Put your hands on your partner and let his presence, the possibility of his arousal, begin to put you in the mood. As you conquer your shyness or performance anxiety, your excitement will build. If he tries to resume control of things, gently push him onto his back and tell him, "This is just for you." Take his cock in your hand and stimulate him until he is about to come, then stop and put your vulva to his mouth. Let him lick you and work his tongue in and out of you until you too are ready to come. This game can be repeated as many times as both of you can stand. Then allow yourselves to unite. I am pretty sure you will feel horny at some point along this path.