Posted on November 24, 2020
Wondering why you've lost your libido? It's perfectly normal. Learn more about the potential reasons why this could be happening.
Media, entertainment, and societal norms lead people to believe that they should be ready to have sex at any given moment. While this might be the experience for some people, it certainly isn't the case for everybody –– and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, there really is no such thing as a standard sex drive. It can also be helped by a therapy matching service as well!
Everyone's libido is different, and the same person's sex drive might fluctuate over time, depending on circumstance and physical changes. This is normal. There's no universal standard or rule of thumb when it comes to sexual desire; it’s quite subjective. A low sex drive is only a problem if you find it to be. Some people want sex several times per day and others don't want it at all, and all experiences can be perfectly healthy. It also doesn’t mean you have to know when to walk away from a sexless marriage either.
However, if you do find your lack of sexual desire distressing, and you want to be more interested in sex, it’s important to consider whether your libido is low due to lifestyle, relational factors, or even past trauma, which could range from trouble communicating, lacking emotional connection, dealing with existing fights over money, or feeling trigged by a past relationship conflict.
Libido is a term that we commonly use to describe sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. The World Health Organization states that sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality, which is a reason why modern physicians recognize the importance of libido as one of the key indicators of general health and quality of life. Low sexual desire could mean something is going on with your sexual health.
In the mental health field, the term libido has a history. It had diverse meaning in the work of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts – namely Sigmund Freud who placed it on one side of his instinctual dualism, and Carl G. Jung, who identified libido as a psychic energy. These wide-ranging definitions are seldom used today, and when talking about libido in modern day, it’s mostly concentrated on sexual drive.
One of the main external causes of low libido is stress. Emotional stress may affect physical function, including sexual desire and performance during foreplay or sexual intercourse. Realizing what underlying stressors may exist is the first step in treatment. Another outside factor to consider is alcohol consumption and medication. While alcohol may decrease inhibitions, it also decreases sexual performance and libido. Likewise, while some prescription medications can alleviate one issue, they can also contribute to the loss of libido and sex drive.
As with any physical activity, a rested body increases performance. Lack of sleep, including lack of proper sleep, may be the culprit that decreases sex drive. Though medical conditions like sleep apnea are a potential cause for lack of good sleep and lack of libido, lifestyle often negatively impacts sleep. Demanding jobs, travel, and being a parent are just a few examples of everyday life getting in the way of sleep, and therefore your sex life.
Of course, sexual desire requires two parties. Both partners need to feel connected. Poor communication, a sense of betrayal, lack of trust, and repeated conflict may create an environment that lacks closeness, emotional intimacy, and physical intimacy. If one or both partners suffers from low bodily self-esteem, this can also affect their sex drive, desire, and ability to physcially connect. This could lead to a decreased sex drive.
And, internally, changes to the body such as age, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are all physical transformations that will negatively impact your sex life.
Sex therapy is a specialized type of psychotherapy — a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a mental health professional. Through sex therapy, you can address concerns specifically about sexual function, feelings and intimacy, either in individual therapy or couples or family therapy. Sex therapy can be effective for individuals of any age, gender or sexual orientation.
Sex therapy is usually provided by licensed psychologists, social workers, physicians or licensed therapists who have advanced training in issues related to sexual and relationship health. Certified sex therapists have graduate degrees and can demonstrate their competence in sex therapy by becoming credentialed by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
Though you could probably assume, sex therapists do not have sexual contact with clients, in the office or anywhere else. Sexual coaching that involves physical contact is not part of mainstream sex therapy. Sex therapy is typically short term in duration, with a limited number of sessions. However, treatment plans depend on the concerns and goals being addressed.
Talking to a general therapist or a sex therapist can help you deal with underlying psychological reasons that may be causing your low sex drive. This treatment can be particularly helpful if you're dealing with shame surrounding sex, body image, or trauma. There is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about regarding sex or seeking therapy to help with your sex life. This can be an effective way to examine the sources of your distress. If there is an underlying psychological cause, then simply trying to boost your libido probably won't help. You need to address the fundamental issue at hand, first.
Sex therapy is probably not the first solution on the list of things to try to improve your sex life. And while there are plenty of steps you can take on your own, sex therapy is extremely effective and an efficient way to resolve your issues. Understandably, talking about sex and intimacy may initially feel awkward or cause you anxiety, but sex therapists are trained at putting you at ease and skilled at identifying and exploring sexual concerns.
If you're in a relationship, it's usually most helpful to involve your partner in meetings with your sex therapist. You and your partner will likely be assigned a series of homework exercises, such as:
Sex therapy is not meant to be ongoing. Some concerns can be addressed quickly, in just a few visits, though several counseling sessions are typically necessary. As sex therapy progresses, you can use your experiences to outside of sessions further identify and refine the issues you'd like to work on. Remember, sexual coaching that involves physical contact is not part of mainstream sex therapy and is against the ethics of licensed mental health professionals.
Through sex therapy, you can learn to express your concerns clearly, better understand your own and your partner's sexual needs. Remember, effective sex therapy requires trust and good communication with your therapist. If you don't feel comfortable or trusting of your sex therapist, consider discussing these concerns in a therapy session, or finding another therapist with whom you feel more comfortable.
If you’re looking to start sex therapy for low sex drive, Advekit can help you get matched today.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.