The spirit is willing, but is the flesh tired?
December 2, 2010 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I know I'm tired -- but to the point my genitalia are falling asleep?

Female, 40's. No sexual difficulty before this. I've been having some work-related sleep issues for the past few months -- I'm temporarily working on a schedule that is JUST outside my typical cicadian rhythm.

I've had similar sleep deprivation before, so I know that my fuzzy thinking is because of this - but recently I've also noticed some mild anorgasmia. Definitely not libido loss -- I'm interested as ever -- but periodically, the, er, response to physical stimulation is way down, from a level that's usually pretty high. I can get there, but...touching the fun bits sometimes physically feels of no more consequence than as if I'm touching my earlobe. But then other times it's all okay. (Sex with a partner, albeit rare these days, is always okay.)

I was considering a doctor's appointment about this, except none of what I've read about anorgasmia seems to fit my case -- it's not all the time, and my libido isn't affected. So that got me wondering whether this is another thing to chalk up to the wacky sleep schedule. (If it is, it'll be over in a month, hooray.)

Any thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
The statement Sex with a partner, albeit rare these days, is always okay makes me think you're just stressed out and fatigued and that it'll pass. Alone, you just can't be arsed to respond because you're tired. With a partner, you overcome your fatigue by virtue of interest.

Here's waiting for next month!
posted by goblinbox at 1:48 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you eating more carbs/sugar to compensate for being tired? Exercising less due to lack of time/energy? Put on any weight?

I've been a type 2 diabetic for a few years now, and I've noticed that whenever I put on weight, stop exercising and eat badly my sexual response decreases in just the way you describe. When I get things under control my response goes back to normal.

Hormonal stuff can also affect genital sensitivity and orgasmic ability, and being that you are over 40 a hormone shift may have just happened to coincide with your sleep issues.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:51 PM on December 2, 2010

Worst case scenario: cauda equina syndrome. It's highly unlikely from what you've written that this is your problem, I'm putting this out there in case there were other symptoms you don't mention.

Stressed and tired seems far more likely!
posted by Coobeastie at 1:54 PM on December 2, 2010

This sounds like no more than a sleep-related issue. If the problem persists after your sleep schedule improves, or if it is causing you to be unhappy, I'd look into it further.
posted by Hylas at 2:05 PM on December 2, 2010

i find that when i'm super tired all physical responses are muted - like, when i stub my toe it doesn't hurt as bad, i don't notice my muscles getting sore until they're at OMG gonna rip 'em out to unknot them, and yeah, my nipples get near unresponsive. i've found that doing something to waken my body back up helps - like a long bath - it sort of wears off the sleepy and covers it in sensual feelings. a massage or a long run could do this as well.

the problem with this solution is that if i have that much time and i'm that tired, i'm just gonna go to sleep.
posted by nadawi at 2:09 PM on December 2, 2010

You haven't started any antidepressants recently or changed the dose?
posted by Maias at 3:26 PM on December 2, 2010

Definitely could be a sleep issue. At least twice now that I can remember, I've awakened very aroused from a sound sleep, proceeded to have sex and reached orgasm, all without any sensation of pleasure whatsoever.

Not something I'm eager to repeat, either, because there was an indefinable awfulness to it, but I do attribute the effect to some crucial part of my brain still being asleep.
posted by jamjam at 4:19 PM on December 2, 2010

several medications could be implicated, anti-Ds, some painkillers, even some of the herbal remedies for sleep. You're not overdosing on Valerian or Melatonin to combat the sleep issues, are you?
posted by Wilder at 4:18 AM on December 3, 2010

[This is a followup from the asker.]
D'oh, forgot to mention that no, I am not now - nor ever been -- on antidepressants. (Sorry -- I know that that does have anorgasmia as a side effect, and should have said this wasn't an element up front.) I've also been trying some valerian to combat the sleep issues, but only now and then (like, once a week), which I'm pretty sure is not 'overdose' scale.

This is all very encouraging -- I had a hunch it was yet another sleep thing. (Greeeeeaaaaaaat.) Thanks, all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:33 AM on December 3, 2010

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