When was the last time you felt fully present and alive? Or the last time you felt real joy in the moment? The hard truth is most women she sees can’t answer these questions. Dr. Jordin Wiggins, sexual health and libido expert, says that there is another pandemic happening and that pandemic is a lack of pleasure in women. She says sexual dysfunction in women is running rampant and we need to start talking about it.
What do we mean when we talk about sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can take many different form with women, including:
- Pain with sexual activity
- Difficulty orgasming
- Lack of desire (this one is the most common)
- Arousal disorder – not being able to get aroused or stay aroused
In society, women are told to totally dismiss their pleasure. When they do this, it makes them disconnected, lacking in sex drive or in pain during sex. This in turn affects desire and libido, creating a terrible cycle. Up to half of all women suffer from sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives, and we need to start looking at the issue holistically. In or to do that, we need to change the narrative around women’s sexuality and treat the physical and mental aspects of libido loss.
When treating sexual dysfunction, experts look at hormones, you and your partner’s libidos and anhedonia.
Your hormones play a key role in just about everything in your body, but can easily get out of whack. Some questions to ask yourself to help determine if the cause of your issues are hormones are:
- Is sex painless?
- Can you get lubricated?
- Can you orgasm?
If the answer to any of these is no, there might be something off about your hormones. The next step is to get your bloodwork done. Not enough testosterone and not enough estrogen are usually the culprits when it comes to hormonal sexual dysfunction. If the blood work is normal it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
If your blood work shows that your hormones are the issue, there’s a few things you can do. The first is to ask your doctor about bio-identical hormones. Bio-identical hormones are manufactured hormones designed to be identical to your own biochemistry, and can help if you need a boost in estrogen or testosterone. Another potential fix is to swap your diet around. The foods you’re eating may be throwing your hormones off balance. For instance, while tofu is a great source of protein, it’s also high in estrogen, and too much may be harmful. The last thing to keep in mind is how your cortisol response effects your hormones. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and is increased by things like heavy exercise, emotional or mental stress, lack of sleep or staying inside all the time. try to find ways to lower your stress in order to keep your hormones balanced.
Part of the narrative in society is that women have lower sex drives than men. But Dr. Jordin says that sex isn’t even a drive, and our current conception of the libido is all wrong. So how does this work?
Well, the less sex we have, the less we want, and vice versa! This doesn’t only apply to women though, anyone can experience a lack of sex drive after a long dry spell. A part of the narrative that we have to change is that women are the ones who lack desire, when really, it can go both ways! This is why it’s so important to prioritize sexual pleasure, since it keeps your desire higher.
But what if you and your partner aren’t on the same page? Well… this is normal! It is virtually impossible to have two different people have the same exact libido or level of desire. We need to expect that mismatched libidos are normal, and start developing sexual practices that work for both parties. Make time for sex. Put intimacy dates on the calendar.
You may think that sex should be spontaneous, but that’s another myth to bust. Lots of people have this conception. For instance, people refer to the honeymoon period as the best sex because of the spontaneity. But if you think about it, this was very planned out – you likely anticipated your date all day! As you got ready and went on the date with them, anticipation would grow and along with that, sexual desire would too! There is nothing actually spontaneous about it.
Bet you’ve never heard of this one! Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, and is often misdiagnosed. It’s linked to your mindset when it come to sex and pleasure. Many women experience anhedonia but cannot put it into words. Instead they say things like “I don’t feel like myself” or “the things that brought me pleasure don’t bring me pleasure anymore”. When people say this to a doctor, they are more likely to get offered an antidepressant prescription – which can have side effects of low libido.
If women are feeling this level of stress, then they are producing excess amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is a complete libido killer, and creates a response that shuts down the hormone pathways for desire and pleasure. So what does a healthy sex-related mindset look like? Women should be able to:
- Experience present and active joy
- Be motivated to achieve the things they want to achieve
- Have connected relationships to friends, family and partners
- Say no when they need to
- Receive compliments when they need to
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