Love and death

› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I’m in my mid-to-late 30s. Most of my life, my sex drive has been pretty low. Fairly quickly (within a year) after beginning a relationship, it tapers off to almost nothing. I believe this significantly negatively affects my LTRs (my last one ended due to not enough sex; we’re trying to work on it in my current one).

I suspect this is pretty common (I’ve heard of "lesbian bed death," and some of my straight friends also admit to having a very low sex drive). What are the typical causes of low libido in women? I don’t really believe in aphrodisiacs, but are there any proven treatments, meds, or herbs for this?

Love,

No Mojo

Dear Mo:

If any of those worked, they would be aphrodisiacs, and you’d be stuck not believing in them. Not at all helpful. Luckily, they don’t, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Actually that’s not precisely true. There are things that work for some women, just not all, or even most. And since female sexuality seems to delight in confounding even the most dedicated researchers, there’s no telling what might turn out to be efficacious — some combination of hormones, set and setting, history and expectation, and circulation. But in which combinations and what order, nobody knows.

I’d be interested to know what "trying to work on it" means, and whether it’s working. If you really want to delve in, you could see if you can get a referral to an endocrinologist who knows what she’s doing; maybe a little testosterone boost would give you a, uh, leg up. Second, or first if that isn’t happening, you could get yourself assessed for depression or anxiety disorders and maybe do some cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or try Wellbutrin. And last (or first), I’d take a look at the sex you are having and determine whether maybe it’s just not what you want, and try to add in or subtract the elements that would improve things or are killing your buzz, respectively.

The bummer part is that some people really do just have a low libido and that makes them normal for them. Unfortunately, a clear declaration on the order of "that’s just the way I roll" is not going to satisfy a frustrated partner, and many people suffering from low desire really are suffering — they want to have high desire. Some combination of the suggestions above may get you somewhere, and I sincerely hope they do. Otherwise, well, I just listened to a fascinating program on the placebo effect on a BBC podcast, but I’m afraid none of the researchers on there could reasonably claim that taking a pill that you know has no physioactive ingredients would work. Otherwise I’d be all, "Here, take this."

Love,

Andrea

P.S. Oh — there’s an interesting entry on the neurochemistry of lesbian bed death at "Scientific Blogging," here: www.tinyurl.com/4vaxq9. She blames it on oxytocin and pheromones and — surprise! — too much cuddling.

Dear Andrea:

My husband has ED and likes sex in the morning after I give him oral sex, which seems to help. The problem is that he won’t give me oral back! He’s gotten oral millions of times — and me? Twice at the most. Years ago, he was giving oral and I came, which kinda flooded him, and he didn’t do it again for 20 years. Now I’m menopausal and kinda dry, so rubbing gets annoying and doesn’t do much for me. And now I don’t even want to give him oral because he won’t do it for me. He touches me and I pull away because I know he won’t return what he gets. This stinks for me, and I’m totally turned off!

Love,

Rubbed Wrong Way

Dear Way:

Oh, not good. You don’t want to go without forever, nor do you want to get into this sort of (I wish there were a better phrase for this) tit-for-tat system with your beloved. You’re going to have to tell him how you feel, then he’s going to have to, well, reciprocate. If the problem really is the once-upon-a time "flooding" incident, you can do what I urge men to do: warn your partner before flooding ensues, allowing her/him the chance to pull back if wanted. Then you have to tell him that you’re dry and don’t want to be rubbed so much, but here is some helpful, handy lube. Then you have to stop being so mad at him. It’s not that you don’t have cause — of course you do! — but the grouchy, aggrieved tone that comes across in your letter is not the sort that invites compromise and the "we must all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately" approach which is, frankly, your only hope. You really should not have let 20 years go by without saying anything. He really should not have let 20 years go by, period. So, OK, what now?

Love,

Andrea

Got a salacious subject you want Andrea to discuss? Ask her a question!

Also, Andrea is teaching! Contact her if you’re interested in (sex)life after baby classes. Her new blog is at www.gogetyourjacket.com, but don’t look there for the butt sex. There isn’t any.