Women losing interest in sex
Tanya and Usmaan were everyone’s envy – the perfect couple you secretly love to hate. In love for three years, marriage seemed a cakewalk with their sort of chemistry. There was no problem which could not be solved with amazing sex and pillow talk. But 5 months into the relationship, things began to change. Tanya no longer reached out for sex, and when Usmaan did, it seemed it was more a drudgery for her than an expression of love. Nothing else had changed, she was still in love, yet it was not the same. What happened?
Men and women are assumed to have different expectations from the bedroom – a result of biology and social conditioning. Does one gender lose interest in sex, especially with the same partner, before the other?
Does one gender lose interest in sex, especially with the same partner, before the other?
A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that 34% of women said they had lost interest in sex, compared to 15% of men. This considered lacking interest in sex for over 3 months, with women over twice as likely as men to lose interest. Interest in sex can change due to multiple factors – mental and physical health, emotional connection with your partner, or even open communication about sex with your partner.
How the body affects your sexual desire
In a society obsessed with youth and thinness, sexual encounters can be a nerve wracking experience if one is not comfortable in their skin. The added pressure on women to look perfect, like the photoshopped images surrounding them, only reinforces the discomfort. Studies have also shown that women who evaluate their bodies negatively have lower sexual desire and arousal. This can lead to extreme effects.
As Nandini puts it, “My husband and I dated for a year before marriage and had an amazing sex life. Because we were not living in the same house, I was always physically prepared for sex before he came over – shaved, waxed and the likes. But after our marriage I realised that my husband may see me with body hair – what would he think of me! I would wince even at the thought of him seeing one strand on me, which is impossible. So I just started avoiding sex, to the point where it actually made me uncomfortable to think of sex, forget enjoying it, which really took a toll on our relationship.”
Apart from societal demands, women’s bodies may also sometimes not release the hormones needed for a happy sex life. Healthy women would have both testosterone and oestrogen in their bodies regulating sex, among other things. Sometimes the levels of testosterone drop, leading to a reduction in their libido. The levels of the hormone do decline naturally, but one needs to have regular sex to ensure the levels remain high. This makes it quite a Catch 22 situation, especially for women where testosterone levels drop significantly. Hormone patches, prescribed by a physician, can be a remedy. However, most women do not even get diagnosed.
Related reading: Are these meds messing with your sex life?
What effect the mind has on your interest in sex
Sex in long-term relationships becomes especially entangled with emotions. Research has shown individual, interpersonal and societal factors – all being instrumental in lack of sexual desire. Long-term relationships come with evolving interpersonal dynamics. What would have got you interested in that person initially may just make you dislike them later. How a man is when trying to woo a woman can be different once the relationship has reached a more secure stage. What the man assumes to be security, a woman considers complacency.
Shashi, married for over 20 years, mentions this as one of the reasons her marriage went through a very rough patch. “I was not expecting marriage and courtship to be the same, of course, but I was also not prepared for such a drastic change. From thinking of me in everything he did, it went to hardly even noticing my presence, except just before sex.”
“From thinking of me in everything he did, it went to hardly even noticing my presence, except just before sex.”
“Eventually I just began to feel used for only sex, and being his wife I couldn’t even say no or demand at least some romance prior. It became that vicious cycle where I hated him approaching me for sex, then hated the sex, and finally even hated him. And what he probably saw was a girl that went from swooning over him during the honeymoon to being repulsed at his touch.”
The cause for lower libido is more important than the effect it has on your sex life
Both research and women’s stories have shown repeatedly that women are just as tuned to enjoy sex as men. However, there can be any combination of factors that may influence her desires. Blaming the woman for lowered libido would not solve the problem. It’s important for the partner to dig deeper, understand and address those causes. Sex is so linked to self-perception, that feeling un-aroused or rejected can be damaging both for the relationship and the self-esteem of each partner. Keeping lines of communication open, and talking frankly about sex will ensure the issue is resolved before it gets worse. One can neither afford to isolate sex from other aspects of a person’s life, nor relegate sex to a low priority level deserving no attention. For both the woman, and the man involved.