Please help me; I seem to have gone off sex. I love my partner but I feel like I don’t want to have sex, and even when we do have it I feels like I am ‘out of it’. Please help me?
Thank you for your question. I know that this can’t be the easiest thing to experience, let alone share. In some ways, the biology of sex can seem like a simple, straightforward affair. In other ways, it can feel like the most complicated ball of rubber bands to untie. While it is difficult to know exactly what’s going on without an assessment, I have a few ideas that I would like to share with you.
1. Is poor health to blame?
This is an important consideration because certain medical conditions can directly interfere with your sexual appetite – drive, desire, satisfaction. These can include anaemia, blood sugar problems like hypo/hyper-glycemia or diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid, that is low functioning or high functioning, obesity/being overweight or even certain chronic conditions.
Conditions like depression, anxiety and even stress are notorious for interfering with one’s sexual function. Whatever the case, it should not worry you because whatever it is can be treated or managed and you can go back to having the kind of sex that you desire.
I don’t know how long ago your last physical examination was done but it is important that you attend to it. Visit a GP and tell them that you would like a general wellness check, and be sure to disclose that your sex life is of concern to you. Let them take your full medical history and then take the necessary steps with regard to treatment, recommendations or referrals. While we are on the subject of health, it is important to remember your mental health.
2. Context, context, context
One of the first things that I consider in situations such as yours is the context within which someone is experiencing a problem. Why? Because too often when I ask people who tell me that they’re struggling with their sex lives how they’re doing in other areas of their lives, they initially claim that everything is fine. However, upon further assessment, they end up having deeper insights into things that they may have overlooked along the way.
I want you to really think about this question Susan; how are things going in your life? How do you feel about your current relationship? How are your children doing (if you have any)? How are your finances? Is your business/employment/source of income keeping you in a state of stress or are you happy enough with how things are going? Furthermore, consider the following possibilities: did you recently have a baby? Did one of your children recently graduate/get a job/lose a job? Has there been a death in your life that made you feel like it shook you to your core?
In other words, has there been a big change in your life – positive or negative – that has caused you to feel disoriented in your life, especially outside of the context of sex? Even if it doesn’t make sense, it is important that you allow yourself the opportunity to assess your life and the impact of your context on your sex life because, often, you’ll find that a non-sexual situation is what is responsible for a decline in your sexual pleasure.
3. Seasons come, and seasons go
There are very few things in life that are always on a high note. Everything in life changes; health, wealth, weather, relationships and even sexual appetites. Is it possible that what you are viewing as a critical problem is really just a low season in sex life? To help you clarify on this, ask yourself how long this has been going on? When did you start to realise that this was a problem? What else was going on in your life at that time? Has this happened before, and if so, how did you handle things in that previous situation and how long did it last?
In other words, it would be good for you to consider whether this is a seasonal -- by which I mean, temporary --‘dip’ or whether it is a less-temporary-more-permanent situation. If you feel that it is a temporary season, then by all means allow yourself to relax and enjoy other aspects of your life and sexuality, knowing that all seasons must come to an end, giving way to new seasons. If, on the other hand, you suspect that this is more than just a temporary situation, then please do pursue it further.
If your physical health and well-being are of no concern, please reach out to a qualified counselor, psychologist or psychotherapist -- preferably one who specialises in matters sexuality. They will guide you through the possible causes and interventions. It is important to remember that you will need to participate in the improvement of your sex life, which might mean that you try things -- sexual and non-sexual -- that you have not tried before, in ways that you have not tried. As long you are safe and feel that you are well taken care of by the person that you’re working with, go ahead and keep an open mind and be willing to try something new.
Remember, Susan, that sex is a biological need and function. As such, you deserve to enjoy it whenever and however you wish. My hope for you is that you find the source or cause of it all, so that you can have the life that you desire.
Maggie Gitu is a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist
She can be reached at: [email protected]