QUESTION: I am a 20-year-old female who has had no sexual desire for about six months. I have previously been on a contraceptive pill and thought that the pill may be the reason as it mixes with my hormones, however even since changing it I still have no urge.
I love my partner and am still largely attracted to him, however, it is starting to show some problems in our relationship.
I guess I just don't have the 'want' anymore and it's starting to worry me as I want to be able to fulfil his needs. I am scared to talk to my GP as it's something I feel uncomfortable talking about. I was just wondering whether this is normal, or if it is something I should possibly mention to my GP.
Would love your insight about this, thanks
ANSWER (Robyn Salisbury): There's no way you can generate sexual desire in yourself just because you want to fulfil your partner's needs. Your sexual energy is first and foremost yours, for your own pleasure and vitality. Your work to reclaim it needs to be for you first then you get to choose who you share it with. Of course that might sound harsh from your partner's perspective as he has suddenly had his access to partnered sexual pleasure withdrawn.
It is indeed a strain for any partner to lose that sense of being desired, however he needs to know that how you two deal with this strain will make or break your relationship and will also determine what happens sexually from now on.
The OCP (oral contraceptive pill) can certainly impact on libido, each kind impacting differently on different individuals and when you stop taking it, it can be a while before your hormonal function returns to normal. Does the onset of taking the pill coincide with your drop in libido at all? I would encourage you to mention this issue to your GP who should be used to handling this kind of question as it's a common problem.
They will also explore whether other factors may be impacting. What are you using for contraception now? If it impacts on hormonal production or confidence that you can avoid unwanted pregnancy then either of those things could also cause desire to go AWOL.
This "want" that you describe as missing is generated by a number of launch pads, one is hormonal, another is recent memories of good sex, so as soon as you either have a long break from sex or have duty sex your supply of arousing memories diminishes.
When sex is going well the sexual energy of a partner can get you horny or just kissing and cuddling can warm you up but when you've lost your desire a partner's energy begins to feel like pressure which is more likely to generate anxiety that you won't be able to perform or will make him angry, then this becomes a vicious cycle.
A further launch pad is shared activities. Do you two have fun together, exercise together, go to the movies? While you most certainly don't need to be in each other's face all the time and its best if you're not, you do need ways to get back into step with each other.
How are each of you viewing this relationship? If one of you wants 'forever' and the other feels like it's much too soon to make those kinds of commitments, this can lead to a conscious or unconscious withdrawal. Also sometimes in the phase of relationship when attractive lover becomes family, sexual desire drops until you get your head around this man being someone you are choosing a relationship with, not just part of the furniture.
You say "largely still attracted to him"- are you discovering things you dislike? If so, time to raise the concerns.
Did you enjoy the sex that you were having? Tides in desire are normal; couples need to discuss each taking responsibility for their own sexual needs when tides don't coincide. Your task is to reclaim your body and her sexual energy first for yourself.
- Robyn Salisbury is a clinical psychologist. Email questions to MrsSalisbury@sextherapy.co.nz