Dear Sex Expert,
I haven’t had sex for over a year now and I don’t miss it. Is there something wrong with me because I don’t want sex? My husband wants to have sex with me and asks at least once a week. I’m afraid he’ll leave me if I don’t give in. What should I do?
Signed, Dull and Listless
Dear Dull and Listless,
I’m wondering if you really are OK with giving up sex. If so, why call yourself dull and listless? That tells me something is definitely going on with you.
My first suggestion is that you make sure there are no health or emotional issues at play. Menopause, excessive stress, depression, and illness can cause a woman to feel less sexual desire. Certain medications, particularly the SSRI anti-depressant medications are known to inhibit sexual desire. A medical practitioner can help you evaluate your physical health, review medications and work with you to see if there are alternatives. She might suggest a therapist if there are signs of emotional issues.
Let’s talk about your relationship with your husband. When things aren’t working well it’s common to have a lack of desire. Did the lack of interest in sex start first or were there other problems that led to you pushing back from sex?
We all go through periods when sex seems less interesting. It can be about any number of things:
- Do you feel less sexy due to age? Weight?
- Is menopause screwing with your hormones?
- Are you bored with run-of-the-mill sex with a long-term partner?
- Is the relationship over and you’re just not ready to admit that?
- Has some old relationship or family trauma or issue related to sex resurfaced?
These are just a few possibilities; the point is that you’re going to need to take some time to figure out what’s not working for you.
I doubt you’re really OK with not having sex. But, if you are, that’s fine. You can live without sex, but your husband probably won’t want to, so you’re going to need to have that conversation with him.
We need emotional and physical connections in our life so you’re going to have to find substitutes. You can get a pet, find a massage therapist, or develop strong friendships.
But before you take on a life of celibacy, please think about why you aren’t having sex. Make a list. Ask yourself if there’s something else going on. Then have a conversation with your partner. Talk about how you feel and what you would like to happen. Is there something he can do to help make sex more pleasurable for you? The fact that your partner still asks for sex means that he’s interested—in you. And, that’s a good thing.
If you’re not ready to have sex with him yet, then start self-pleasuring yourself. Don’t lose touch with your sexuality. Sex is good for older women. When we orgasm the body produces the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel good, reduces pain and leads to an overall sense of well being. Sexual activity helps keep the post-menopausal vagina in good shape. When aroused our bodies produce a natural lubricant that helps keep vaginal tissue supple and less likely to grow thin and tear. Intercourse (or vaginal masturbation) exercises the vagina in a good way. These benefits can be gained through self-pleasuring (my term for masturbation) as well as in partner sex.
If you need a little help in starting a new sexual practice one of my earlier articles on self-pleasuring might help.
My homework assignment for you: Find a private time this week to reconnect with your body. Use a lubricant and explore. See how your body responds to touch. I want you to begin to awaken your sexual desire—to feel aroused. Continue this, once or twice a week, for a few weeks until you are ready to talk to your husband (partner, boyfriend, girlfriend) about your sex life. Make sure he’s open to having a non-judgmental, honest conversation about what the two of you want in a sexual relationship.
And, if you still don’t want to have sex, then say so. This isn’t something you can be ambivalent about. You own your body and you have the right to give up sex with a partner if you want—but be clear that it’s your decision. Just be certain that it’s about the sex, not another issue you’re unwilling or unable to confront. And, be prepared for the choices your partner might make in response to your decision.
That last paragraph was my tough love message to you. I don’t recommend a life without sex. A satisfying sex life provides a deeper sensual energy that helps fuel our creativity, our emotions and our daily energy. Think of your sexual desire as your pilot light. All of our senses are connected—when we shut down one aspect of our being we throw our bodies, and our lives, out of balance. Life begins to feel a little duller and colder without that ever burning flame. You can find ways to enjoy life and go about your daily routine without sex—but I bet upon examination you’ll find that something is missing.
My best to you as you work to address the issue of your decreased sexual desire. If you have further questions you can get in touch with me through my blog, Walker J Thornton.