Dr. Margit Lister explains why “The Super Mommy Syndrome” can lead to a low sex drive.
Losing your sex drive, or low libido or hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is extremely common at some point in a women’s lifetime. The definition of low libido is recurrent lack of sexual interest that causes you personal distress. There is no set number of times a couple should have sex that makes them normal or abnormal. Sexual relations frequently fluctuate with the relationship. Interest, motivation, and satisfaction vary significantly throughout the relationship as the couple deals with change and stress.
This first thing that I assess when a women expresses concerns about low sexual desire is to ensure that intercourse is not painful. Aside for the first time that you are sexually active, intercourse should not be a painful experience. If it is, then all women in their right mind would not be interested in continuing something that causes pain and ‘low libido’ develops.
Next I need to ensure that she is not on a medication that causes low libido or orgasm difficult to achieve. Common medications that decrease sexual desire are antidepressant medications, oral contraceptives, blood pressure medications, and over-the-counter antihistamines.
Thyroid and Ovary Function
Then I need to ensure that her thyroid is working, as well as her ovaries. This can be done with a simple blood test and checking that she is ovulating on a regular basis. If she is menopausal or had her ovaries removed, then she made need some hormonal supplementation to increase her libido or sexual comfort.
Lastly I assess the relationship. Are you happily married? Do you still love your husband? If you answer ‘no’ to either of these questions, then I am unlikely to help you in our short office visit. You and your spouse will need professional counseling. But likely, you and your husband are still in love but sex is no longer an active part of your relationship.
Super Mommy Syndrome
The most common cause of ‘low libido’ in women in my practice is the “super mommy” syndrome. If you have a few small children and your husband works all day; you are in charge of the meals for the kids, dinner for the family, the housework, the laundry, the homework, the discipline and any other miscellaneous need that the family has, you are burning the candle at both ends and having sex at the end of the day seems like another chore that you have to provide. This environment is not conducive to a healthy sexual relationship. No Person, man or women, can maintain a robust sex life with all the ‘duties’ to perform.
Women are complex creatures and when we are tired, we are simple. We want to go to bed. So if your sexual opportunities usually start once you became horizontal at the end of the day, and you can barely keep your eyes open, you need to slow down.
Take Time for You
First, take some time for you! You need a break and a good night’s sleep. Find a way to get both.
Reconnect with Your Spouse
When was your last date night? Make it a regular engagement. Weekly is perfect.
Discover What Excites You
If this doesn’t begin to spark things, then we need to look at what sexually excites you. Every woman is different, and what excites me, may not interest you. But you need to know your mind and body to determine what it is that makes your heart go ‘pitter-pat’. Some women love to see their spouse do house work, others it is the sexual touch/suggestions that happens during the day to lead up to the bedroom activities. Whatever it is, you have to find that and put that back into your life.
Hold, Share, Listen
The exercise involves sharing with their husband for 30 minutes weekly, holding each other with non sexual touch. This is a time for one partner to share what they like, dislike, when it comes to sex, romance, the bedroom etc. The other partner is to LISTEN. He/she will get their turn next week.
You can ask questions like, “I’m not sure what you mean, could you explain it to me again? “Can you show me what you mean?” But this is not a time to defend yourself, this is a time for listening to what your partner enjoys and learn how to do things better. Next week, you switch places and your husband tells you what he likes or dislikes and you are to LISTEN. I warn women, this is not personal and think about how you felt when he spoke about your sex life and what did you learn.
For women, who really don’t know what pleasurable sex is, I start with a simple exercise of self exploration. This gives women permission to touch themselves and move past a previous barrier of self exploration. This simple exercise begins to show a woman where she derives pleasure and how to create it.
Kegal exercises (tightening and relaxing of pelvic floor muscle) can also be helpful before, during and after intercourse to increase satisfaction and pleasure.
“Becoming One, Intimacy in Marriage”. Stahmann, Young, and Grover.
“Secrets of the Sexually Satisfied Woman: Ten Keys to Unlocking Ultimate Pleasure. The Berman sisters.
Dr. Margit Lister is an OBGYN with Intermountain Health Care. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit: www.intermountainclinics.org.