Let’s Talk About It: Low Sex Drive

While we often talk about sexual freedom and anti slut-shaming, it’s also important to talk about low sex drive. At 22 years old and in a happy and healthy relationship, I never expected to be experiencing it. After learning about causes and how to not be hard on myself about it, I wondered how many young women like myself might be going through the same off-putting experience. I’m not here to write much about the science behind it, as a simple Google search will tell you that stress, anxiety, depression, sexual trauma, exhaustion, hormonal imbalance, or even the food you eat can affect your libido. I searched and couldn’t find any article about coping with it while in a relationship, so I’m here to share just that. Many might find it embarrassing. I choose to find it empowering.

When millions are dying, you’ve been stuck at home for a year probably with your parents. You’re constantly worried about catching a potentially deadly virus, your diet consists of anxiety-eating all of the sugary snacks in your pantry, and you can’t even have wine to relax anymore because your alcohol tolerance has decreased that much. Is it really all that surprising to not have much of a sex drive? Not to mention I’m in the midst of fulfilling my college duties and mastering Zoom. Add to it the anxiety of being a senior and whether or not I’ll have financial stability after graduation. Sex is usually associated with stress relief, but too much stress can actually cause a decrease in libido. 

Has this been a problem for me? As an individual, not really. *insert shoulder shrug here* A decrease in libido means you probably won’t want to have sex, so not having it becomes very okay and non-frustrating. I honestly, 9 times out of 10, would rather take a nap or watch inspiring Youtube Vlogs. 

Has it been an issue in my relationship? It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but it hasn’t been detrimental. Several months later, I can say it’s made our bond and understanding of one another stronger. My partner’s sex drive is significantly higher than mine at the moment, and dealing with the frustration as a couple has been at times challenging. This hasn’t been the case in our entire relationship, so it’s taken some adjusting. Thankfully I am with someone who would never want me to do something I don’t want to do. However, it’s taken many conversations, both with myself and with him, to remind me that I am in no way incompetent as a girlfriend. It’s taken taking steps back from the topic of sex entirely to distance myself from the innate pressure that I feel to be sexual. At this point, I think it important to point out that I’ve been part of a very hyper-sexual culture for a long time, as many of us have. So many Instagram posts these days are meant to be “thirst-traps.” Bridgerton is setting the royally great sex standards for all of us. The fear that our partner might find someone else sexier has been propagated for every commercial benefit possible. Is it bad if we don’t want to be “sexy” for a year? I’m not complaining about sex stepping out from the hidden to the open for discussion and expression realm. As this article shows, I think it’s important to have these kinds of conversations, to feel safe expressing the choice to be or not to be sexual, to share to learn from each other’s stories, or at the very least feel as if we are not weirdos for going through any of it. But it wasn’t until this experience that I realized how womxn, and men, can have what feels like an innate pressure to perform. It’s so engraved into the concept of a woman- pleasing. What happens if we don’t please our partner? On my end, I felt as if I wasn’t fulfilling his needs. On his end, he had to face many myths about “manhood,” or should I say toxic masculinity. That’s also a huge topic worth discussion, and it’s heartbreaking seeing someone you care for be affected by false ideals placed on by society. Just the other day, we were at the park, and three boys, all must’ve been 12 or younger, were sitting around already debating their sexual competence, or lack thereof. But after several months, we can now say a big 4 letter word to society’s sexual standards. 

For both of us, it’s taken to understand the causes of the change- it’s not a lack of attraction or compatibility. It simply (and at the same time rather complexly) is a reaction to the effects of the past year or so. It’s a rather natural reaction as it can happen to anyone, and just as levels can decrease, they will someday increase. As graduation is getting closer and I’m having less stress from my classes, there’s been a bit of a change, but I wouldn't necessarily say “for the better.” Saying so would reinforce the same pressures I try to escape. 

Yes, low libido levels can be a sign of chronic hormonal imbalances, and for some relationships, it can pose what becomes an irreconcilable difference. But I hope that if you’re reading this and it ever happens to you, whether at 22, 18, or 55, that you remember to not self-blame and instead give yourself grace. Sometimes, there are anxiety-inducing and stressful forces stronger than your sex drive, as a global pandemic. And other times, you might just be too tired or too busy focusing on your goals to think about wanting to have sex. All of this is okay and definitely not weird. Of course, if you become concerned about your health, speaking to a gynecologist is a good step.