For crying out loud, where's my libido?
November 1, 2013 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a problem. I am a 39-year old woman whose libido declined over a couple of months when I was 33. I can't seem to get it back. I need help thinking outside the box.

I thought women were supposed to get hornier in their 30s but it appears that I am the exception. We're talking both lack of desire and not being able to have an orgasm. It feels awful. I have waited for it to come back but it never did. I have checked out all the usual culprits- it's not medication and my thyroid is normal. I'm not premenopausal. It's not the pill. I do not have a history of sexual trauma, did not grow up with puritanical attitudes towards sex and the body, and don't have negative feelings about my body. I have had no weight loss or weight gain that might explain it. There were no apparent physical changes to my body when I was 33 and I have no idea how this happened when it did. I saw a reproductive endocrinologist who said my hormones are just fine, that there didn't seem to be anything physically wrong with me, and recommended that I see a sex therapist, which I did. She asked me questions like "Do you like the smell of your genitals?" (answer: not particularly but other people seem to) and it didn't seem to be going anywhere.

I have read a bunch of other responses to questions about libido problems but --see the preview-- I need some help thinking outside the box. I feel like I've crossed a lot of possible explanations and remedies off the list and would really like advice and recommendations from folks who have dealt with this.

Thank you for your help.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This may sound stupid, but working out and getting in shape skyrockets my libido.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:07 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

For an out-of-the-box suggestion, there have been some studies lately that show that Viagra has been helpful for women who have sexual arousal disorder.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2013

It sounds like you've addressed a lot of physical questions, but what about alcohol? If you're not a drinker, what about other things that didn't begin at age 33 but could cause bodily changes over time?

Also, I'm sure you know frustration itself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe you could try a "hands-off" policy for several weeks, but read erotica (or whatever has interested you in the past) with a short-term goal of not getting turned on. If doing that makes you too aware that you're working to outsmart yourself, you could try reading/watching something steamy that you rather dislike (I know this is very tricky with trauma in your past, so something that won't outright offend or upset you, of course). Sometimes we don't know what will get us going. If you do find something titillating, stick to whatever time frame you previously set for yourself, then have fun with it.
posted by whoiam at 11:43 AM on November 1, 2013

Consider trying a different therapist? Maybe the one you were seeing earlier wasn't very good, or just wasn't right for you.

Have you tried porn? (Either visual or written, whichever you prefer. Maybe try both.) Others could give better suggestions than I about what you might dig (I like porn but lord knows most of it doesn't do anything for me -- it has to be just right) especially if you can give us some idea of your normal turn-ons.

Also, have you ever considered kink? If you think that any of the stuff that comes under that broad umbrella might be interesting to you and you can give us some ideas of what that might be, we may be able to give you some suggestions as far as directions to explore.
posted by Scientist at 11:44 AM on November 1, 2013

Oh, and depending on how you feel about marijuana, some people find that pot can stimulate their libido like mad, when paired with a stimulus like pornography or an attractive and willing partner. Or so I have heard, anyway...
posted by Scientist at 11:46 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

As we age our hormone levels change. Have your doctor check yours. After my hysterectomy, I had estrogen replacement, but I felt exhausted and disintereseted all the time.

I had my levels checked and we added Testosterone and Progesterone to my Estradiol and it's a lovely little cocktail. I'm a cheerful, happy person and I owe it all to chemistry.

But seriously, bloodwork could uncover the culpret. Also, get a thyroid test in the bargain.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to be clear folks, she does NOT have trauma in her past and she DID have the bloodwork done.

However, I don't see anything in this question about your partner(s). Are you married or committed to someone? Single and thinking of sleeping with someone, or several someones? Have you considered that you might be oriented in the opposite way as you've always considered yourself?

I'm asking because it takes two (or three, I suppose) to tango, and if you've got the wrong partner, it's hard to imagine that the libido will take care of itself.

So bringing in another partner -- for you or for your partner -- might help. An old friend of mine had a marriage that was coasting, sexually, and then found out his wife was having an affair with someone who provided her no future relationship potential. It was just about sex. Oddly enough, this totally turned him on and the two fired up their sexual relationship (and the other man dropped out, as he had been made redundant). Having a threesome has been known to add spice, as has having an affair with someone of the opposite sex as your usual partner. [Insert usual warnings about STDs.]

Similarly, trying entirely new and challenging things may help (see Scientist's suggestion of trying kink, above) and alternatively try going back to basics: bathtub with candles, reading the stories that once turned you on, oily massage, the obvious.

For me, a major change happened totally by accident when I had a sexual dream that woke me up with its breathtaking intensity, and that fired me up for months afterwards. I can still recall that feeling, diminished but still powerful, when I need a jolt. The dream came while I was on an adventurous vacation, one mixing physical and mental intensity with long periods of lying in the sun partially clothed, and the combination apparently let this fantasy take flight. It's a happy part of my mental repertoire now. Perhaps you can find a past fantasy, or cultivate a new one, to put in your toolbox.
posted by Capri at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Did your life start to get really busy and distracting, either for you, your partner, or both of you, around that time?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could try Wellbutrin. I would recommend it...
posted by artychoke at 4:35 PM on November 1, 2013

With who when and why?

I, too, wondered about the partner or porn angle. Has you situation changed? The sex therapist convo indicates that you are having sex with people - or have in the past. But in what situations are you not into it enough and how are these situations similar and different when compared to the salad days?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2013

If you'd like suggestions, Lost Girls is a great sexually exciting graphic novel.
posted by chrysanthemum at 6:43 PM on November 1, 2013

There's anecdata that Buspar helps with these things, particularly in women. But it's anecdata, not published peer-reviewed stuff.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:02 AM on November 2, 2013

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