Busyness – Sex Killer | Better Sex For Women

Too Busy For Sex | Better Sex For Women

Are you too busy for sex?

Work, kids, church, groceries, dinner, laundry, Bible study, small group, friends, family, Facebook….sleep. Who has time or energy for sex? Even on vacation, we’re running from one activity to the next. Finding time or mental focus for romance is harder than it sounds.

Previously we discussed how fatigue kills your sex drive and what to do about it. Is it possible though to be simply too busy for sex? Of course it is!

There are only 24 hours in the Day

There are only so many hours in a day. Never enough to get done all the things there are to get done. There are, however, enough to accomplish all the things that are important to God that you get done. Where do you think your marriage fits on God’s priority list?

True or False

A strong relationship with your husband is more important than:

Catching up on what your girlfriend made for dinner on Facebook?

Folding the towels?

The latest episode of The Voice?

Clean bathrooms?

Saying “yes” to volunteering at that church event so you won’t disappoint anyone?

The kids getting to do all the activities they want?

Good vs Best

For some people time wasters like TV, Netflix, and social media consume a huge chunk of their time that could be better spent elsewhere. For most of us, though it’s not the “time wasters” that keep us from God’s best for us, it’s all the “good” things. There are far more “good things” than there is time: Kids activities, volunteer opportunities, friends/family with needs, Bible studies, etc. All these things are “good” – but they can still cause your life to be out of balance such that the most important things get neglected. You can have too much of a good thing.

There’s enough time in your week to allow for each priority God has for you its “fair share” of your time. If you’re giving too much to any one area it is robbing from another. Every “YES” is a “NO” to something else.

Is sex really all that important?

YES! By God’s design, sex is one of the primary ways a man emotionally bonds with his wife. It’s normal, because of the way your hormone cycle effects sex drive, for you to only feel like initiating sex a couple days a month. Your husband likely needs more than that to feel close and connected with you. It’s a huge part of his identity. Imagine if he only spoke to you a couple days a month. How close would you feel to him?

Check out this article for more details: Why Sex Is So Important to Men

Do It for the Kids.

More than activities or even a home cooked meal, your kids need their mom and dad to have a solid relationship. Where else will they learn what a healthy marriage looks like? How else will they know how to relate to their spouse someday?

There is No Substitute for Quality Time

Your relationship is like a tomato plant. All the conditions for growing plump, delicious tomatoes can be perfect: great sun, fence to keep the animals out, soil with just the right mix of nutrients, spray to keep the bugs away – but if you don’t water it, it won’t grow.

You can’t dump 100 gallons on your tomato plant once a year and expect it to not need water the rest of the time (think vacation). The ground can only soak up so much at a time and the rest rolls off. There’s also no such thing as “super wet water” that only requires minimal application because it’s so super quality (we don’t spend very much time together, but we make sure it’s “quality” when we do). No, you’re tomato plant is going to need regular, daily watering if it’s going to bear fruit. Without water the flowers will die, the leaves will wither, and before long there will only be scorched earth.

So it is with your relationship and quality time, there’s no substitute.

Minimum Quality Time for a Healthy Relationship

As a rule of thumb, I recommend the following quality time schedule for all couples as a minimum for keeping their relationship healthy:

15-20 min a Day

At some point in the day, every day, make some time to give your spouse your undivided attention and meaningful conversation. This could be morning coffee together, pillow talk before bed, or any number of other forms. It’s best to have a bit of a ritual though to make it a habit. Having it be a habit will increase the likelihood of it happening consistently. Try to keep it up even when apart by Facetime or phone call.

2-4+ hours a week

Date night is what most couples call this, though it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night dancing. When our kids were young going to the grocery store without children felt like a date! The important thing is that it’s a time of relaxed “hanging out” without kids. Have fun together and enjoy some adult conversation without interruptions every 2 seconds.

An Overnight once a Quarter

An overnight or weekend getaway where you spend a full day or two with your honey enjoying life as lovers and friends is so very important to staying in love. Whether it’s a romantic getaway to somewhere tropical, or a staycation at a local hotel – having a relaxed time to enjoy each other’s presence without children is key.

Sex 1-2x a Week

Every couple is different and this isn’t intended to be a hard and fast rule, but most couples find an average of 1-2 times a week for sex is a good minimum for staying connected. This could be in the morning before work, afternoon lunch quickie, in the evening after we get the kids in bed, or on the weekend.

For more tips on staying emotionally connected with your spouse, check out the article: Emotional Connection | Better Sex For Women.

Put it on the Calendar!

Planning ahead and scheduling time together highly increases the chances that it will actually happen. If you don’t put it on the calendar, there’s a really good chance it won’t happen consistently enough.

Some object to the idea of scheduling a time to connect sexually, feeling it removes the spontaneity or fearing they won’t be able to perform. The truth is that blocking out the time allows for great variety and creativity as you plan ahead, looking forward to the time. Your body is designed to respond to sexual stimuli, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not it will become aroused. It also lends itself to some fun, playful flirting throughout the day.

Plus, just because you’ve planned a time to connect, doesn’t mean you can’t connect spontaneously at other times as well. Planning just ensures that at least we’ll connect at this frequency.

Quality time and sexually connection are important to the health of your marriage – make it a priority.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Why Enjoying Sex Matters for Married Women

Why Enjoying Sex Matters for Married Women

Why does enjoying sex matter?

If you’re a high desire woman, the answer to the question “Why should enjoying sex matter for married women?” is simple – “Because I want to enjoy lots of mind blowing sex!” If you’re on the lower end of the libido spectrum, however, that answer doesn’t resonate with you.

So why should a low libido married woman care about ENJOYING sex?

 3 thoughts for you to consider on the subject:

1st God Designed You to Enjoy Sex

First of all, it’s an undeniable medical fact that God designed your body to enjoy sex, even more than your husband. Your clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of human anatomy, male or female, and it only serves 1 purpose – Your sexual enjoyment. You can have a variety of orgasmic experiences, you can have multiple consecutive orgasms, you have multiple neuron-pathways for sexual pleasure – none of these are true for husband.

The take away is: God wants you to really enjoy sex. If you’re not, you’re missing out on something that God has for you.

2nd God Designed Your Husband to Want You To Want Sex with Him

Believe it or not, your husband isn’t just interested in having sex with your body. He actually wants to have sex with you as a person, his bride. While sexual arousal for men is largely physical, sexual fulfillment is more about feeling accepted, wanted, and affirmed in our masculinity. [Read more here: Why Sex Is So Important To Men]

All illicit sex appeals to this need in men. The women of pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, are communicating “I want you”, “Your masculinity turns me on”, “I accept you and think you’re great”. Every mans heart longs to feel these things – from his wife.

“Duty sex” doesn’t communicate these things. Just being willing to let your husband use your passive body to “get off” because “it’s been a while” is not even close to fulfilling to a man.

He wants to share something with you that is mutually enjoyable and that you both look forward to. Look at this way, have you ever been trying to have a conversation with your husband and you can clearly tell from his body language and lack of engagement he’d rather be having a root canal than talking to you right now? Or at least he’s thinking “There’s got to be something on TV more interesting than listening to you.” How does that make you feel?

3rd If You Don’t Enjoy Sex, Desire Will Die Altogether

Duty sex is a desire killer. If you engage sex but don’t enjoy it, eventually, your sex drive will all together disappear. Frustration and resentment with your husbands sex drive will grow, and the conflict will drive a wedge between the two of you in your marriage.

I see this often as one factor in empty-nest divorces and in affair situations.

Learn How to Enjoy Sex

The only solution I know of is to learn how to enjoy the wonderful gift of sexual pleasure God has wired into your body. There are lots of reasons you might not be now. I’ve written here about the top 10 reasons I see in my practice, Why Married Women Don’t Want Sex. Fortunately there’s an incredibly high success rate for those who want to learn how to enjoy sex (9 out to 10). God want’s you to enjoy sex, your husband wants you to enjoy sex, and you’ll be happy about it once you do as well.

Joyce Penner, one of my mentors in sex therapy, has written a great book for you: Enjoy! If you need more help, give us a call, 85-55-WE-HELP – One of the sex therapists on our team will be happy to help you figure out what’s getting in the way and design a treatment plan that will help you get there. We see clients nationwide Online and In-Person at our offices.

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Sexy=Dirty? | Better Sex For Women

Low Sexual Desire | Better Sex For Women.jpg

Does being sexy feel dirty to you?

Growing up we can sometimes receive the message that sexual desire is lust and only promiscuous girls want sex. This belief that sex is slutty/dirty and that you are bad for having sexual feelings, especially as a single person, leads us to feel bad about the sexual part of ourselves. Pleasing God and being horny are seen to be incompatible.

This is especially true for those who grew up in a very religious home. Sometimes the message that “sex is holy” is interpreted to mean that sexy feelings or the desire to engage sexually any way other than “missionary style” is a sinful corruption of God’s design for sex.

What follows is feeling bad about yourself any time you experience sexual feelings. So you learn to shut down your sexual feelings. This tends to get in the way of desire for sex.

God Made You Horny

Who designed your body? Who’s idea was it to wire your neurology and hormones to give you sexual feelings, desires, thoughts?

Truth: God made you horny. From a physiological standpoint, it is an undeniable fact that God wants women to enjoy sex even more than men. Take for example, that a woman’s clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of human anatomy male or female. Further, it serves zero functional purposes other than a woman’s sexual pleasure. In contrast, a man’s penis is a multi-functional tool. It aids him in urination and reproduction in addition to being an instrument of pleasure.

It doesn’t stop there. Women possess at least three separate neuropathways associated with sexual pleasure, to a man’s one. Women are capable of enjoying a variety of orgasmic experiences whereas men really only have one. Male orgasm may vary in intensity, but it is basically the same feeling and geographic location. Even more, women have the physiological capacity for an unlimited number of consecutive orgasms. There is probably a world record out there somewhere, but I wouldn’t recommend googling it. Men, on the other hand, get just one followed by a waiting period ranging from minutes to hours.

Conclusion: God wants women to enjoy sexual pleasure!

Distortions of Sex Displease God

Distortions of sex displease God. This includes the distortion that comes from well-meaning church people who make sex and sexual feelings out to be something evil or bad. It’s the ditch on the other side of the road from the secular hedonism that says there are no boundaries for sex, do whatever you please, with whomever you please, whenever you please.

In a world full of secular distortions of sexuality, where perverts and sexual predators lurk, it’s no wonder we the church are afraid of sex.

We are afraid of…

. . . the controversy.

. . . being thought of as a sexual predator.

. . . being misunderstood or misportrayed.

. . . offending people.

. . . being controlled by our sexual passions.

. . . being like the perverted culture.

. . . exposing our own shame around our sexual experiences, past, struggles, failures.

The power and potential for destruction inherent in sex terrify us.

We are bombarded with unspoken messages that say “sex is dangerous to your soul and body.”

“If you think about sex or feel sexual desire – You are Sinning!”

“Sexual sin is the worst kind of sin. Be ashamed of your sexual struggles. Hide your weaknesses.”

“If you love Jesus enough, you will NEVER be horny, especially if you’re single.”

“Any expression of gender affirmation or insinuation that “I think your attractive” is flirting. Flirting is sinning. YOU MUST PRETEND YOU FIND NO ONE ATTRACTIVE.”

“Asexual = Godly”

All of these messages, and many more, either spoken or implied through silence, result in beliefs about sex that do not come from God or the Bible. They don’t represent God’s revealed thoughts, as expressed in the Bible, about sex.

The Bible Celebrates Sex

Would it surprise you to know there’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the romantic sexual pursuit of a man after a woman and her desire for him (Song of Solomon). The flirtatious, romantic desires that draw a woman and man towards each other with longings for each other, leading to marriage, is God’s design.

The physical realities of our sexual desire are a metaphor for the longing that God has for His people. God desires to be one with us, indwelling us by His Spirit as we share an intimate love affair together. He describes Himself as a husband and we His special creation, as a bride, Whom He is passionate about and longs to be intimate with.

Consider, that according to Christianity, unlike any other religion, when we approach God giving our self to Him, the Bible says the Spirit of God literally indwells our body. The vulnerable, intimate act of intercourse between a husband and wife is a physical revelation of that spiritual truth. Further, God’s drive to be with us is constant and unrelenting…kind of like some husbands.

God’s loving pursuit of us and our enthusiastic response to Him shows us what a healthy sexual relationship in marriage is supposed to look like. Likewise, God appreciates and enjoys when we too initiate times of intimate connection with Him.

How To Embrace Positive Feelings About Sex

Before you can embrace positive feelings about sex, you first have to identify your negative ones. Often we’ve been so submerged in negative messages about sexuality that we aren’t even consciously aware of the misbeliefs that we hold about it.

Trace It Back

Take a sheet of paper and create a timeline of all the things you learned about sex and whom those thoughts came from.

How was nudity handled around your house?

How were your genitals talked about?

What reactions did your parents/adults have when you touched yourself as a child?

Did your parents discuss sex openly?

How did you learn about the “birds & the bees”?

What did you learn from siblings, family members, friends, the locker room at school?

What were the messages you got from the church/youth group?

When do you first remember having sexual feelings or thoughts? What was your response to them? How did you feel about them?

Did these experiences help you have positive feelings about sexuality or negative?

Write a Sexual Fantasy

Take a sheet of paper and create a sexual story about you and your husband. Make it as romantic and arousing as you can imagine.

What feelings are provoked just by reading the above two sentences? Positive or negative? Do you find yourself not wanting to do the exercise?

By this point, you probably accept, in your head at least, that God views sexual passion between you and your husband as positive. So what is getting in the way of you letting yourself imagine, think about, and look forward to sexual experiences together?

At first, you probably won’t be able to identify it. Keep trying to do the exercise and keep thinking about the feelings it stirs and bring them into conscious awareness by writing them down.

Challenge Distortions with Truth

For each of the negative feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that you identify in these exercises create a counter statement that affirms the positive nature of God’s thoughts about sex. Write down the truth statements.

Examples:

Distortion: I feel dirty.
Truth: Sex and sexual feelings are a beautiful gift from God.

Distortion: I feel ashamed or guilty?
Truth: God designed me to have sexual feelings and desires, He wants me to enjoy them and pursue them with my husband.

Distortion: I shouldn’t want these things?
Truth: Any mutually respectful and pleasurable sexual act between husband and wife, that doesn’t bring in a third party, is permissible to experiment and play with. God loves variety and creativity.

Experiment

Experiment with intentionally being flirtatious and sexually forward with your husband. Make a point to be receptive / respond positively to your husband’s advances. Notice the feelings you have as you think about and try doing so. Use the truth statements you have formulated to combat negative and anxiety producing thoughts/feelings. Talk about them out loud with your husband. Pray together, thanking the Lord for the sexual part of yourself and relationship. Ask for God’s help in experiencing as GOOD what He has created to be good for you.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of pregnancy getting in the way of your sex life?

For many women, conflicting feelings about pregnancy get in the way of them enjoying a passionate sex life with their husbands. It’s true – abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% birth control method for women with their reproductive organs still intact, but it sure can be hard on a marriage (see Why Sex is So Important to Men).

Fear Will Ruin Your Sex Life

If the idea of getting pregnant creates anxiety or fear for you, it’s only a matter of time before that sabotages your sex life. Anxiety gets in the way of physical arousal such that sex becomes enjoyable, even unpleasant. Most of us tend to avoid things we find unpleasant. At the very least we don’t actively seek them out. Whether or not you consciously identify your fears as playing a role in your avoidance of sex, they likely do.

Common Reasons Why Married Women Fear Pregnancy

We have enough!

Maybe you feel satisfied with the number of children in your family. Maybe you feel overwhelmed trying to parent the children you already have.

Grow by Adoption

Perhaps you feel adoption is the way God would have you grow your family further.

Health Concerns

Sometimes pregnancy can pose a health threat for mom or baby. Fear of loss of life for either or lifelong birth-defects can definitely add angst to the thought of pregnancy. If there’s been a loss of a child, the pain of that grief alone can be a motivator for avoiding the possibility of going through it again.

Relationship Quality

If our marital relationship is a mess, why would we want to bring another human being into that chaos? Uncertainty about our marriage can contribute to hesitancy over pregnancy.

Birth Control?

When considering sex avoidance or lack of enjoyment due to fear of pregnancy, there’s an obvious conversation about birth control that needs to happen. Usually, it already has and the issue is more about a struggle to make a decision then it is a lack of knowledge about the options. Still, this article would be incomplete without at least some discussion of the options and issues surrounding them.

Hormone-Based Birth Control

Pills, inserts under the skin or in uterus – whatever the method of delivery these options work great for some while creating real problems for others. If the effects on your body and risk of problems are minimal, then you still have to consider the controversy of whether hormone based contraceptives prevent conception or just implantation. ¬For most of the women I work with in my practice, if this were a good option for them they wouldn’t be in my office. So there is a good chance if you’re reading this article, for some reason they are not a good option for you.

Timing Methods

Whether it’s timing a “pull out” or ovulation this method is really only good if you like spoiling the most enjoyable moments of intercourse and rolling the dice as to whether or not you get pregnant. All such methods are notoriously ineffective – no matter what a someone who knows someone tells you. For every couple that successfully navigates a life-time avoiding pregnancy by way of this method, the other 99% get pregnant at some point.

Condoms

Fairly effective when used correctly – also tend to take something away from the experience for both husband and wife. They definitely don’t heighten the sexual experience and most men prefer not to use them.

Diaphragms

Requiring a little planning ahead, about as effective as condoms (but inserted into the vagina instead of over the penis), not a bad option if you don’t mind the prep. To properly use, with about 94% efficacy, they must be combined with the use of spermicide, which is of course super sexy.

Hysterectomy

May be necessary at some point in life, but generally cutting organs out of your body if not medically necessary isn’t our favorite option. It’s also permanent- which you may not be ready for. If you do go this route, do your best to retain your ovaries – you still need their hormones.

Tubal

Tying the tubes can be effective and reversible, but is rather invasive and can lead to other complications.

Vasectomy

Probably the absolute best option is the vasectomy. Minimally invasive, minimally painful, quick recovery (depending on how big a baby you are, you could be back to work as early as the next day). Reversal is possible if you so desire, though is not guaranteed.

What about the lowering testosterone? There is minimal research linking the two and most of it is from 20 years ago when doctor erroneously believed there was a link between testosterone replacement therapies and prostate cancer. Some research even shows a small increase in testosterone after the procedure. The truth is you almost certainly will not be able to tell any difference after the surgery than before – except you won’t be getting pregnant and won’t need condoms.

Between the options of hormonal methods, female surgeries, and the vasectomy – the vasectomy definitely is the safest and most effective. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than have any serious side effects. Most insurances cover the outpatient surgery, or you can pay out of pocket usually for less than $2k.

Can’t agree about birth control?

The simple answer would, of course, be “Get on the same page.”, but what if we’re just not there yet? I believe God wants for couples to move forward in life in unity and that He makes this possible through options that are a WIN for both husband and wife. I’ve seen this to be true in my own marriage and in that of my clients.

That means NO bull-dozing, steamrolling, manipulating, or forcing your way for either of you. That does not please our King. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of bringing conviction to your spouse’s heart and leading them to His Truth without your help. If you think you can do a better job you are sorely mistaken. If your spouse won’t listen to the Holy Spirit, it would be idolatry for them to listen to you instead.

Humbly make it a matter of prayer for both of you. Trust the Lord to help you both to get on the same page with Him. Ultimately as believers, that’s what we want more than anything else – not to get our way or for our spouse to agree with us, but for both of us to agree with our King.

Use your communication and conflict resolution skills to understand where each other is coming from and what you really want that possible solutions are the means to. Brainstorm together as a team. Need some help in this department? Check out the book Crucial Conversations or connect with a marriage counselor to help you work through it.

Trusting God

“Trusting God” with your fertility is good Christian advice. We should trust God with every area of our life and health. Most of us still wash our hands though, because trusting God with our health doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play a role in it with our choices. Trusting God also means trusting that He is able to speak and make His will for our life clear.

As with many things in life, we should make choices based on the best information and wisdom we have access to, in conjunction with our desires for life. Doing so means being prayerful about decisions, trusting that if we are headed in a direction contrary to God’s desire for our life He can and will make that clear to us. We can trust God to grant wisdom to us, so long as we’re listening (willing to be obedient when He makes Himself clear).

Choosing to use birth control of one form or another does not mean that you are not trusting God, unless God has made it clear to you that He has other plans and you are just ignoring him.

Save Your Sex Life

So, what if you aren’t able to quickly come to a WIN-WIN agreement with your spouse on the subject? Should you just avoid sex until you do? At worst that’s very manipulative, at best it’s a BAD idea. God designed sex to be an important part of the intimate connection between husband and wife. Neglecting it will create vulnerabilities to the attacks of the enemy in your marriage, as well as lead to disconnection and resentment.

Non-Intercourse Sex

As mentioned at the beginning, abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% method of birth control. Abstinence from intercourse doesn’t mean abstaining from sex. There’s so much more to great sex than just intercourse.

Not so sure? Maybe your sex life needs an overhaul. Sometimes going through a period of time in a marriage where you aren’t having intercourse really helps a couple cultivate a rich and vibrant sex life where before it was a minimally fulfilling one-act show. Deeply satisfying, orgasmic sex is completely possible without intercourse. If you’re not sure how, schedule an appointment with a Christian sex therapist to help you.

I highly recommend that as you work through what to do with your fertility, in a win-win God-honoring way, you also continue to share regularly in affectionate sexual connection. This will help keep sex a positive thing in your marriage even as you navigate this conflict.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Sexual Trauma

If you have had negative emotional experiences associated with sexuality, this can significantly impact your sexual desire.

Examples of sexual trauma that might impact your sexual desire include:

  • Feeling pressured by a boyfriend to have sex when you weren’t comfortable doing so.
  • Being sexual in ways that left you feeling guilty or ashamed at an earlier time in your life.
  • Having been touched or made to act in sexual ways as a kid that made you feel uncomfortable by friends, siblings, babysitters, a parent, or another adult.
  • Sexual experiences that have been painful physically or emotionally.
  • Being forced to engage sexually when you didn’t want to by any one, including your spouse.
  • Exposures to pornographic materials as a kid.
  • Even if the event was a long time ago and not violent – it can still have a BIG impact.

Frequently women I work with are surprised to discover that emotional associations created from these experiences are still affecting their sex life today.

Sexual Aversions

Aversions are actually a protective feature God has built into us, although operating in over-drive. It’s like when you eat a food and get food poisoning. Something about the unpleasantness of vomiting that food up through your nose leaves a lasting impression on you. Even if it was the flu and had nothing to do with the food, the experience will likely make you queasy around that food in the future. The smell of it alone can make you nauseous.

We call this a food “aversion”. It happens because our brain associates the negative emotional experience of being sick with the food. It then tries to help us stay safe by discouraging us from eating it again. There was a particular brand of pizza I used to eat a lot of that fell victim to this for the better part of a decade.

When this same sort of pairing happens with a negative emotional experience and something involving our bodies or sexuality, it can form a sexual aversion. This is where our brain tries to keep us safe by warning us to avoid anything that even remotely reminds us of sex.

Sexual Trauma

If sexual traumas can result in sexual aversions it begs the question, what exactly is sexual trauma? Essentially sexual trauma is any negative emotional experience involving some aspect of our sexuality. Sexual traumas exist along a continuum from minor to significant, based on the impact on the person.

The significance of a trauma is measured based on the impact on the person, not necessarily the nature of the event itself. Although, when we think about traumatic experiences there are some that tend to result in a higher degree of traumatic significance than others as a norm. That being said, everyone is different. What one-person experiences as insignificant, another might experience as hugely impactful.

It’s important not to judge what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling in response to something. Instead be curious and observe what you are feeling. Believing you shouldn’t be feeling something doesn’t change the fact that you are, it just decreases the likelihood that you will care for the wound in way that will heal it.

Examples of Sexual Trauma

There is a broad range of experiences that can shape our feelings about sex and our sexuality. Many of them you might have never thought of:

The more obvious ones…

There are, of course, the events that you probably think of when you hear sexual trauma:

Stranger Rape

This is what you see in the movies, where the woman is jogging in the park and is grabbed by a masked man, pulled into the bushes, and raped under threat of bodily harm. While this certainly does occur and is extremely traumatic, it’s actually one of the least occurring kinds of sexual trauma.

Small Child Molestation

Another scenario that probably comes to mind is the woman who as a little girl is sexually touched or forced to perform sexual acts. This too is extremely traumatic and leaves emotional scars that have a great impact on one’s sexual relationship.

These are real scenarios and if they are part of your story, you probably have some awareness that they are impacting your feelings about sex and negatively impacting your sexual relationship. They are treatable and we can help you reclaim the sexual parts of your body and life.

But what if neither stranger rape nor molestation as a small child is part of your story? Is it possible to have experienced sexual trauma that impacts your feelings about sex?

Less obvious forms of sexual trauma…

There are a great many experiences a woman can have that impede her sex life. Here are some examples that we routinely come across in sex therapy:

Humiliation

Feeling humiliated around some aspect of your body or sexuality can be very traumatic, leaving you feeling insecure about your body and sexuality. These feelings of insecurity can lead you to avoid all things that trigger these feelings, like sex.

  • Peer bullying – a teenage girl gets made fun of in the locker room for being “flat chested” or fat, or an ugly rumor spread about her being a “slut” or that an ex-boyfriend said she was terrible at sex.
  • Lewd comments/innuendo – an early blooming middle school girl has inappropriate comments made to her by boys at school or older adult men, perhaps a father, brother, cousin, uncle, family friend “prick tease”, “jailbait”, “asking for it” or other derogatory comments.
  • Stared at, undressed with eyes – maybe it was an authority figure, teacher, coach, pastor, a relative who stared at you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, like they were undressing you with their eyes.
  • Text / Social Media – Maybe somebody posted a picture of you or spread it by text that you didn’t feel comfortable with or the comments made about it.
  • Boyfriend or Spouse Comment – maybe a boyfriend or husband told you that you were “no good in bed”, were a “terrible lover”, “not sexually arousing”.
  • Lack of Dating Interest – maybe no one asks you out on a date or to a dance at school, maybe the message was you’re not pretty, nobody wants to be with you, you’re not attractive.
  • Body Development / First Period – Maybe you felt really self-conscious about developing breasts and curves, or started menstruation without good preparation from a parent, maybe you bled through your clothes at school. Or maybe your breasts are different sizes or your labia/vulva seem odd shaped or sized to you.

Trust Violation

Sex is an extremely vulnerable act, physically and emotionally. If trust has been violated in a significant way, this can create a wound that makes sex difficult.

  • Date Rape/ Sexual Pressure – So you know the guy, maybe you’re even friends and really like him. He wants to have sex, you’re not ready for it. He insists or gets upset with you if you don’t want to. If you want to stay friends, if you want him to like you – you feel like you have to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Maybe you agree or maybe you just don’t kick and scream no. It still isn’t what you want and you get the feeling when it comes to sex, it doesn’t matter what you want. You might even feel this in your marriage.
  • Peeping Tom – maybe somebody violated you by watching or looking at you sexually uninvited. Stranger or family member, it doesn’t matter. You feel violated.
  • Predator – someone in authority, a female or male coach or a teacher, watched you, touched you, or just interacted with you in ways that felt uncomfortable to you. Maybe it was a child-care provider or babysitter.

Experimental Play

Sometimes, as kids and adolescence, we do things that are exploratory in nature that later in life we don’t know what to do with. These are consensual things that we might even initiate. We can have fears about what they mean about us. Sometimes we’ve never told anyone about these for fear of what they will think.

  •  Playing Doctor – As prepubescent (before puberty) kids we are curious about our bodies and the bodies of others. We play games that involve looking at (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours) each other’s bodies or touching each other out of curiosity. Sometimes we reenact things we saw on TV. Sometimes this is with kids our own age, sometimes younger or older. Sometimes it’s with kids of the same-sex sometimes it’s opposite sex.
  • Sexual Body Part Stimulation – Even as kids our sexual nerve endings are developed and if stimulated will feel good (different than after puberty, but still good). This is true if they are stimulated by same-sex playmates or opposite, or even from being rubbed on an object, or up against a pet. Sometimes as a kid something happens that feels good, and we do it again. If it’s something taboo or odd from an adult perspective, we can have anxious feelings about it looking back as an adult.
  • Body Violations – When our body is touched or violated sexually in some way, it creates negative emotions that can lead to aversions.
  • Molestation – This often times is paired with trust violations. It can happen in the context of a trusted relationship: a father who touches his daughter sexually. The relationship may be groomed over many years, whereas a young girl she doesn’t question her daddy’s love for her, so when he “teaches” her something “special” to be “just between them” she doesn’t think anything about it. It might even continue for years, and she might feel guilty because her body responds sexually to the stimulation, so she questions, “maybe I want it to happen”. Sometimes the attention and even sensations in the body feel good, so maybe you engage a babysitter or older neighbor kid to repeat something that has happened.
  • Groping – maybe kids at school took the liberty to grab your breast or butt, or drunk guys at a party, leaving your body feeling violated.

Immature Choices

Sometimes during rebellious/immature periods in our life, we can engage in sexual choices that we are extremely embarrassed about and ashamed of at later periods in our life. These choices leave us associating all things sexual with a perversion of our sexual choices during this season. Now sexual situations with our spouse trigger memories of choices we regret.

  • Multiple Sex Partners – Perhaps there were lots of drunken one night stands, waking up with someone you didn’t know. Maybe there were multiple partners at the same time. Maybe there were blowjobs and hand-jobs, and risks of STD’s. Same-sex or opposite sex.
  • Party Girl – Could be a sorority situation or just an immature need for the attention and acceptance.
  • For money – stripping, sexual favors for gifts or dinner, or for money.

Physical Pain

If sex is unpleasantly painful for any reason the brain can associate that pain with all things sexual, creating aversions from all things sex-related. See the article Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women for more details.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope it gives you some insight into the variety of different situations that can create emotional or physical trauma that can get in the way of a healthy sexual relationship. Add fear or physical pain to any of the above situations and it amplifies the traumatic nature of them.

How to Heal Your Sex Life from Sexual Trauma

There are two phases of healing your sex life from sexual trauma. The first is the trauma work, where you work through the negative emotional and psychological impact of the traumatic experiences. The second is sex therapy to build positive associations with your body and sex, so you can enjoy sharing a healthy sex life with your spouse.

Professional Help

It’s likely that you’ll need to work with a sex therapist with experience treating sexual trauma. Treating sexual trauma can be complicated and you want to work with someone that has traveled this road with others. While many counselors have experience with trauma treatment, not many have experience in sex therapy. In counseling, trauma treatment and sex therapy are separate disciplines. Having experience in one doesn’t necessarily mean having experience in the other.

Working with a clinician that has experience in both is ideal. This isn’t always possible though, as they can be difficult to find. You may find yourself working through the trauma phase of the work with a local counselor and then either pursuing self-help or online sex therapy counseling to address sexual difficulties.

Sexual Healing Self-Help

Sexual aversions can be tricky to treat. You should be patient with yourself. The best self-help resource I know of for working through sexual trauma to heal your sex life is Wendy Maltz’s Sexual Healing Journey. Wendy does a great job talking through different kinds of sexual trauma and how it impacts a person emotionally and sexually.

Below are two YouTube video’s produced by Wendy where clients share their experiences working through Wendy’s program. The first one is of couples sharing their experiences along the journey. The second demonstrates the touching exercises that are a part of the relearning touch exercises in the book. I would recommend ordering the book and watching the videos while you wait for it to arrive.

Partners in Healing

Re-Learning Touch

You Can Do This!

I applaud your courage just reading this article. Spending any time thinking about these things brings up uncomfortable emotions. Know that many women have experienced the unfortunate things you have been through. They have, as you can, found healing. If our team can be a help to you on that journey, it would be our honor to do so.

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Overcoming Your Hormone Cycle | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Your Hormone Cycle | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Hormones to Have a Better Sex Life

Women are hormonal creatures – it’s how God made you, and it’s not a bad thing. It does, however, create challenges that take some special attention to overcome. One such challenge is the ebb and flow (no pun intended) of your sex drive as related to your menstrual cycle.

Women’s Sex Hormone Peak

Women hit their sex hormone peak in late teens to mid-twenties. As this starts to trail off over time, there’s usually still a hormonal surge that starts 1-3 days before ovulation and continues for few days after. The body says “Hey, I’m about to drop an egg, go find your man so you can fertilize it.” It’s during these days that women reach their peak erotic motivation for the month. Sex therapists call this spontaneous and intrinsic motivation to connect sexually “Initiating Desire”.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always cooperate so that these days fall during convenient times to connect. A lot of women express, “Well honey, I was feeling pretty horny about 2 this afternoon, but by time we got the kids in bed it was ALL gone.”

The Pill Can Make it Worse

To further the problem, chemical birth control, i.e. the pill, can neutralize the mid-month natural hormone boost resulting in diminished sex drive. It can also reduce blood flow to the genitals, which can make reaching orgasm more difficult. Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are all at their lowest during menstruation, making it the period of least desire. It is the decline of these same hormones that reduce libido in women during menopause.

For all these reasons, it’s pretty normal for a mature married woman to only experience initiating desire a few days a month.

So what can you do about it?

Now that we have a little bit better understanding of what the problem is, let’s take a look at some ways to deal with it.

Embrace Receptive Desire

When sex therapists talk about arousal we mean one of two types: 1) Subjective Arousal or 2) Physical Arousal.

Subjective arousal is the awareness of sexual desire, that is being horny.

Physical arousal refers to the changes that happen in the body in response to sexual stimuli, like pupil dilation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, accelerated breathing, flush skin, nipple erection, blood flow to the genitals, vaginal lubrication, breast enlargement.

It’s common to think of subjective arousal coming first, then physical arousal. I feel horny, so I pursue sexual connection and become physically aroused. We call this sequence initiating desire, because it leads to the initiation of a sexual experience. It’s not the only option though. Receptive Desire refers to an openness to sexual connection with an understanding that subjective arousal often follows physical arousal.

I sometimes use an example from our taste template to illustrate. Have you ever been out on date night with you spouse, engaging the age old question “Where do you want to eat?”

Well, if you have a craving for something, say Mexican, that’s like initiating desire. Sometimes you don’t have a craving, “I don’t care, I’m not really hungry.”

After you get to the restaurant, you taste the salsa and smell the fajitas sizzling, your mouth starts to water. When your food arrives you tear into like a crazed animal. As the two of you recline, fully satisfied, you look at your spouse and say “this was a good idea.”

Following this script you might say to yourself, “I’m not feeling horny or thinking about sex right now, but I know once we get into it I’ll start feeling desire.”

Think About Sex

It’s very helpful to think about sex. Use fantasy to imagine past experiences that were super arousing. Think about new positions, places, and scenarios you might want to explore with your spouse. Thinking about sex causes the body to arouse physically, which in turn increases desire. Remember, for women, physical arousal often precedes desire.

Plan for Sex

Planning out regular times for sexual connection with your spouse can help keep the connection happening despite hormonal fluctuations. Plus, knowing about a sexual encounter in advance gives you reason to think about the upcoming encounter and be flirtatious with your spouse about it. This builds desire increasing the excitement and pleasurableness of the experience.

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Why Sex is So Important to Men

Why Sex is So Important to Men

In 4 out of 5 marriages men have the higher sex drive and are the primary initiator of sexual experiences. If you are in one of these marriages this comes as no surprise to you. It may seem like your husband is constantly wanting sex and acts like a wounded puppy dog if you’re not in the mood. It begs the question: Why is sex so important to my husband?

It’s the way God made him. 

He came from the factory this way. That’s how God made him. It’s actually part of the whole created in God’s own image thing talked about in the Bible. You see a man’s passionate and unrelenting pursuit of intimacy with his wife reflects God’s passionate pursuit for peoples hearts. When we were still completely disinterested in Him, He loved us and pursued us, wooing our heart that we might be in an intimate relationship with Him. 

Repeatedly in the Bible God uses the marriage relationship, husband and wife relationship, to illustrate the kind of relationship he wants to have with people; He being our husband and we His bride. In this relationship God is always interested in connecting intimately with us. There’s never a day of the week or time of day, or any place that He isn’t willing to connect with us if we make the time to do so. You’ll never get a “I’m too tired, come back later” message from Him. 

There’s also this amazing metaphor for the intimacy that God desires to have with us displayed through intercourse. In every other religion God is out there some where and we are trying to get to god. In Christianity, the message of the Gospel is that God came for us, and when we embrace Him he literally indwells our body, alive inside of us. This closeness of relationship is mirrored as a husband literally indwells his brides body through intercourse when she accepts him. 

Sex is a primary way a man emotionally bonds with his wife. 

Again we’ll blame God for this, since in His perfect wisdom God designed your husbands body to release the bonding hormone oxytocin in enormous quantities when experiencing orgasms with his wife. Wives experience this too, but men do so 400% more. 

You may be familiar with oxytocin if you have vaginally delivered children. The synthetic form, pitocin, is often administered during baby delivery to move labor along. It’s because of the massive amounts of this bonding hormone in your blood when your baby arrives that doctors believe you want to snuggle with your baby instead of kill it after all the pain it caused you. It’s also the hormone that triggers a nursing mom’s milk let down when her baby nuzzles and causes the feeling of closeness when your kids snuggle on your lap while you read them a story. 

God wired your husband so that when he connects with you sexually, the skin to skin contact and hormone release with orgasm would create deep emotional bonding between he and you. It’s this oxytocin flood through his body that also makes him very sleepy after sex. In the absence of regular oxytocin events like sex your husband will be emotionally disconnected from you. 

Sex is a huge part of a mans identity.

In more than 10 years of therapy I have yet to have a man sit on my couch and say “Josh, my wife only loves me for my penis. Sex, sex, sex, it’s all she wants. It’s like she doesn’t even care about me as a person. All I am to her is a walking penis.” Now maybe that guy exists, but I’ve not met him yet. I have, however, had many wives express the sentiment concerning their husbands – that they feel their husband isn’t interested in them as a person, only as a sex object. 

This idea is foreign to men, because their sexuality is very much integrated with their identity. While women experience their sexuality as largely separate from their personhood. For a man, to reject him sexually is a rejection of his personhood. 

Sometimes I illustrate this with a story about the best and worst anniversary card ever given. The story goes like this:

A husband decides to write his wife an anniversary card to express his undying love for her. It reads, “Darling, you are so beautiful and I find you so sexually un-resistible that if you were in a coma and we could never have another conversation but we could still have sex – I wouldn’t mind a bit, I’d keep you around so we could keep having sex.” 

How do you think that wife felt? How would you feel? Not very good probably. Quite possible the worst anniversary card ever, yes?

Now, take that same anniversary card and have a wife give it to her husband, “Darling, you are such a stud and I find you so sexually un-resistible that if you were in a coma I would keep your body around so I could keep having sex with you.”

You’re likely to hear this guy telling his friends around the locker room “You’re never going to believe what my wife said….it was the nicest thing she’s ever said to me…”

The reason for this is that men’s identity and sexuality are so integrated. To accept a man sexually is to accept him. To reject a man sexually is to reject him. Often times women will say this to their husband, thinking they are paying him a compliment: “Honey, I love you so much, appreciate you as dad, and enjoy being married to you – if we never had sex again, I would be OK with that, I just don’t need that part of our relationship – it’s you that are so precious to me.”

A man hearing this from his wife feels about the same as a wife feels hearing, “Honey, I love having sex with you so much, if we never have another meaningful conversation, if I never have to hear your voice again, but we can keep having great sex – I would be OK with that, I just don’t really need that whole conversation part of our relationship.”

Most wives would be crushed hearing this – husbands feel the same. Only, instead of expressing it in tears men tend to express hurt in the form of anger. They may blow up or just shut-down and withdraw from the relationship. 

It’s a big way he feels affirmed and accepted by you. 

Since a man’s sexuality is such a big part of his identity it’s also a significant way he feels affirmed and accepted by his wife. Words, acts of service, quality time, non-sexual physical touch, and sometimes gifts all matter – but none of these love languages replace a man’s longing to feel wanted sexually by his wife. Nothing says, “I love you, thank you, I think you’re great” to a man quite like “You’re a stud and I look forward to having sex with you.” 

The entire pornography and illicit sex industry is built on the exploitation of this powerful reality for men. Porn and illicit sex is never rejecting, always affirming, and always want’s you sexually. While this is a fantasy and no real woman could ever live up to this, it illustrates what they know about a mans heart. Every man want’s to be found sexually desirable by his wife and to feel accepted/affirmed sexually by her. 

Men and women are different by design. 

Men experience their sexuality differently than women. While this may be confusing to wives, it’s not because men are broken or defective – it’s how God made us. Believe it or not, the differences are actually complementary. 

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Top 10 Reasons Married Women Don’t Want Sex

Top 10 Reasons Married Women Don't Want Sex

Why Married Women Don’t Enjoy Sex

As a sex therapist I spend a lot of time with couples that are having difficulty in the sexual part of their relationship. Most of the couples I see are coming to me, at least in part, because the wife is not interested in connecting sexually as frequently as her husband (though 1 out of 5 times it’s the opposite). 
When I start assessing the situation I usually find a combination of the following 10 causes for low sexual desire in women. They are all generally related to violations of the pleasure principle. Fortunately, they can all be treated with a high degree of success. 

Pleasure Principle

All barriers to sexual desire for married women are usually related to the universal Pleasure Principle. The pleasure principle is simply this: We desire to engage that which we enjoy. We do not desire to engage what we do not enjoy. 
It’s because of the pleasure principle that I never have a deep burning desire to be poked in the eye. I don’t enjoy it, so I don’t crave it. Each of the barriers to a women’s sexual desire make sex not enjoyable for her. If it’s not enjoyable, why would a woman want it?
Side note: To help you understand these 10 reasons I need to define for you the 2 types of sexual arousal. The first is subjective arousal. This is the awareness or feeling of being horny / sexually aroused. The second is physical arousal this refers to the physiological changes that happen in the body as it becomes sexual aroused (dilation of the pupils, increased heart rate, blood filling the genitals, increased body temperature, perspiration, increased genital sensitivity). It is possible to have one kind of arousal without the other, and each can lead to the other.  

1. Fatigue

Men and women are different. One of the differences is in the way fatigue effects sexual arousal in women. Both men and women’s physical arousal is effected by fatigue, but women’s bodies are effected to a much greater degree. If a woman is exhausted physically, her body wont respond with physical arousal, which means she wont want or enjoy connecting sexually. If you don’t enjoy connecting sexually – you wont want to connect sexually. 

2. Hormone Cycle

A woman hits her sex hormone peak in late teens to mid-twenties. As this starts to trail off over time, there’s usually still a hormonal surge that happens 1-3 days a month right around ovulation. The body says “Hey, I’m about to drop an egg, go find your man so you can fertilize it.” 
It’s pretty normal for a mature married woman to only experience what we call initiating desire (ie. a spontaneous desire out of the blue) a few days a month during this hormonal surge. The rest of the month it is very normal for woman to connect sexually out of receptive desire. We’ll discuss these further in an article on overcoming the Hormone Cycle for better sex. 

3. Anorgasmia

An inability or difficulty achieving orgasm, that’s what Anorgasmia means. If you’re not experiencing sexual climax and release when you connect sexually, that significantly impacts the pleasurableness of the experience. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy sex at all or that it’s even normal to orgasm every time you connect sexually. Sexual frustration from a lack of release, however, does diminish the sexual experience- especially if it’s chronic. If unaddressed it will likely leave you feeling less and less interested in sex as time goes by.

4. Lack of Emotional Connection

Sex is an emotional experience. God designed sexual desire to lead a women into an emotionally intimate relationship and to enjoy sexual expression in the context of an emotionally safe and connected relationship- i.e. Marriage. If a women’s marriage doesn’t feel safe or if she doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her husband, she’s probably not going to feel a desire to be sexually vulnerable with him. 
Being disconnected doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad relationship. Couples who love each other very much and our safe with each other can get emotionally disconnected just from the busyness of life getting in the way. If we’ve been to busy to nurture the relationship, then we’re probably emotionally disconnected. 
If we do have serious communication difficulties or breaches of trust in the relationship, it’s unlikely that we will ever have a healthy, passionate, sexual relationship until this is addressed. 

5. Physical Pain

Does anybody desire physical pain? If you do, you should probably see a counselor about that, it’s not healthy. If sex hurts, I mean really hurts not just a little rough in a playful way, you’re not ever going to desire it. Nor should you. In fact, if you “play through the pain” you can do serious long term damage to your sexual relationship by pairing pain with all things sexual and romantic in your brain. That pairing can even bleed into an association with your spouse in general, which can lead to resentment and loss of respect for your spouse. 

6. Trauma

If you have had negative emotional experiences associated with sexuality, this can significantly impact your sexual desire. Examples of sexual trauma that might impact your sexual desire include:
  • Feeling pressured by a boyfriend to have sex when you weren’t comfortable doing so. 
  • Being sexual in ways that left you feeling guilty or ashamed at an earlier time in your life. 
  • Having been touched or made to act in sexual ways as a kid that made you feel uncomfortable by friends, siblings, baby-sitters, a parent, or another adult.
  • Sexual experiences that have been painful physically or emotionally. 
  • Being forced to engage sexually when you didn’t want to by any one, including your spouse. 
  • Exposures to pornographic material as a kid. 

7. Fear of Pregnancy

If you really don’t want to become pregnant sometimes the fear of becoming pregnant can get in the way of desire. This can be true even if you are taking steps to prevent pregnancy. 
8. Body Self-Consciousness
Feeling attractive / sexy is an important driver for a women’s sexual desire. If you don’t feel sexy, you’re probably going to have difficulty desiring to engage sexually. This is different than men, who are more driven by how attractive they find their spouse then how attractive they think they themselves are. 
If you feel uncomfortable with your body or believe it is unattractive this is going to get in the way of you wanting to be naked with your spouse. This can also take the form of you lacking confidence in engaging sexually. If you are afraid your attempts at being sexy will come off as awkward and embarrassing, you are more likely to avoid sexual encounters. 

9. Sexy = Dirty

Growing up we can sometimes receive the message that sexual desire is lust and only whores / prostitutes want sex. This belief that sex is slutty / dirty and that you are bad for having sexual feelings, especially as a single person, leads us  to feel bad about the sexual part of ourself. Pleasing God and being horny are seen to be incompatible. 
This is especially true for those who grew up in a very religious home. Sometimes the message that “sex is holy” is interpreted to mean that sexy feelings or the desire to engage sexually any way other than “missionary style” is a sinful corruption of God’s design for sex. 
What follows is feeling bad about yourself any time you experience sexual feelings. So you learn to shut down your sexual feelings. This tends to get in the way of desire for sex.

10. Busyness

Work, kids, church, groceries, dinner, laundry, Bible study, small group, friends, family, Facebook….sleep. Who has time or energy for sex? Even on vacation we’re running from one activity to the next. Finding time or mental focus for romance is harder than it sounds. 

You’re Not Alone and There is Help.

If you find yourself in any of these bullet points, you’re not alone. There is a reason they are on a top 10 list – because they’re common. They’re also treatable. Many people just like you have struggled with these things getting in the way of their sex life. As sex therapists, we know how to trouble shoot your difficulties and help you with a plan to overcome them. 
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on how to overcome each of these common reasons for low sexual desire. 
Curious why sexual desire seems to change for a woman after marriage? Check out this article: Why Women’s Sex Drive Declines After Marriage

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Why Women’s Sex Drive Declines After Marriage

why womens sex drive declines after marriage

Why don’t I want sex anymore?

I used to get horny. Before marriage or early in our relationship I would think about sex and want sexual touch / intimacy. Sometime after marriage or the relationship settling-in that seemed to decrease and now is maybe a fleeting thought once a month or so if ever. Why is that?

Where did the horny go?

Early in a relationship there are a variety of circumstances that can supercharge a woman’s sexual arousal. 

Youthful hormones

Women hit their sex hormone peak in their late teens to mid-twenties. This hormonal high water mark serves to intensify the frequency of sexual thoughts and drive. 

Feeling Sexy

Female sexual desire is closely related to how sexy a woman feels. It’s likely as a single woman you were more intentional about exercise, fashion, underwear selection, make-up, and flirty behavior as you thought more about impressing the opposite sex. These things made you feel sexy, which in turn increased your sexual arousal. 

More Time

As a single person you generally have more time to focus on the things that make you feel sexy and to take care of yourself in ways that counteract stress and fatigue. The additional confidence and energy you have as a result gives your body what it needs to experience arousal. 

Relationship Excitement

Being love drunk in a new relationship is super exciting. The intense amount of time you spend thinking about and connecting with your new love means a high degree of emotional connectedness. The excitement of the new also creates a surge of adrenaline when around your love that mixes with sex hormones to electrify your body.  It’s also likely that your partners is more attentive to you during this time , which fuels the fire.

Married Life

Once settled into married life, especially after children come along, many of these things change. Our sex hormones begin to decline, we become less focused on impressing our man, our body changes with age and pregnancies, we’re increasingly busy, and nurturing our relationship can move to the back burner. The arousal superchargers for single women can also hide underlying sexual problems that are bound to appear once the hormonal high tide recedes. All of these are contributors to reasons why married women don’t want sex. 

Keep the Fire Alive

What once came effortlessly takes intentional focus to sustain across a lifetime. As you and your relationship mature you’ll need to address common barriers to sexual desire that most women face. They can definitely be addressed, but they probably wont fix themselves. 
Learn more with this article: Top 10 Reasons Married Women Don’t Want Sex

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Wives Sexual Desire | What you need to know.

Wives Sexual Desire | What you need to know

Parts of this article were written by Rick Reynolds, LCSW and appeared first as Recovering from infidelity: Difficulties with Intimacy

Wives sexual desire is a subject misunderstood by nearly all men and most women. 

In recent years, one of the hottest topics in sexology has been female sexual desire disorders. For the past four decades, women have been pathologized for not being like men. For instance, according to University of British Columbia psychiatrist Rosemary Basson, “sexual difficulties are particularly prevalent among women seeking routine gynecological care.2 In population surveys, some 30%–35% of women aged 18–70 have reported a lack of sexual desire during the previous 1–12 months.3,4”

The traditional assumption for both men and women has been that desire precedes sexual arousal. Therefore, if a woman is no longer experiencing desire, it is assumed that she now has some sort of sexual hang up or disorder. While this may be true for men, research in the past 10 years reveals a different pattern for women.

Men tend to be more like a loaded gun ready to fire. All that’s needed is someone to pull on the trigger. A man’s libido acts as a drive similar to hunger or thirst. For the past hundred years, sex professionals have assumed that a woman’s libido was at least similar, and that if a woman didn’t feel desire something had to be wrong.

Contributing to the problem are the messages delivered through media. Women are sexually portrayed in books, movies, articles, and even in church circles as men in female form. This mistaken belief concerning female arousal and response patterns has left generations of men and women believing something that’s false. Hardly a day goes by that some couple doesn’t come in to my office arguing about the wife’s lack of sexual desire. This leaves women feeling that they are somehow flawed because they don’t share the same sexual interest as their husband.

But what if desire does not precede arousal?

That is exactly what Basson discovered after interviewing hundreds of women. Contrary to the conventional model, for many women desire is not the cause of lovemaking, but rather the result. Basson’s research revealed that women often begin sexual experiences feeling sexually neutral. But as things heat up, so do they – and eventually desire is experienced.

This explains why Viagra doesn’t work for women, and why sex-boosting supplements are only minimally successful. Products that change the physiology of sexual arousal do not affect desire. At best, they can only increase blood flow into the genitals. It’s easy for men to be aware of increased blood flow because erections are hard to miss. From there it’s only a short step in a man’s mind from erection to the assumption that they have desire. Women, on the other hand, are often unaware of gentle blood engorgement, and even when they are aware of it they frequently report no feelings of arousal.

If women don’t experience a sense of desire, as most men know it, then most guys might wonder why a woman would even want to be sexual. According to research, women tend to be sexual for reasons that affirm their relationships, but their reasons are not inherently sexual. These might include wanting to please their lover, a desire to feel close, to prevent strife, to reconnect after a fight, or because they feel a responsibility. Research supports the old adage that men become intimate to have sex and women have sex to become intimate.

The critical question becomes not how do you ignite a woman’s desire for sex, but instead, what kind of interaction arouses women sufficiently to enable them to experience desire?

The types of interaction that fuel desires in women are playful, leisurely, sensual (lovemaking based on whole body massage that can include genitals but certainly is not focused on them). In surveys, the primary complaints of women are about interactions with their husbands which are non-sensual, too rushed, too focused on breasts and genitals, and too quickly plunged into intercourse. Rushed lovemaking fails to give women the time most need to respond to become aroused enough to experience desire.

Further complicating the issue is the culture created by Viagra. Men mistakenly believe they are sexually aroused when they have an erection. Therefore taking Viagra and having an erection means they’re good to go. However, erections have nothing to do with psychological arousal. Any erectile medication can give a physical erection, but does it create an excitement to be with your mate and to experience the wonder of who they are? Far too often a man’s genitals on Viagra will be at 100%, but his psychological arousal remains at 10 or 20 percent. Once the erection is in place, he proceeds on to intercourse, skipping the steps which would create psychological arousal for both himself and his wife. This creates a growing sense of dissatisfaction for the woman since she is not experiencing the necessary relational interactions and arousal to make the experience pleasurable for her.

Research shows that many women do experience spontaneous desire and interest when they’re involved in a new relationship or when coming back together after long-term separation from their partner, but it also indicates that most women in long-term relationships rarely think about sex or experience spontaneous sexual desire. Therefore, women seem to operate more out of a point of sexual neutrality–where she is receptive to being sexual, but does not initiate sexual activity. Many women report that the goal of sexual activity is not necessarily orgasm but rather personal satisfaction, which is then experienced as physical satisfaction (orgasm) and/or emotional satisfaction (the feeling of closeness and connection with a partner).

There is not something necessarily wrong if a woman is not experiencing the same desire and arousal patterns as a man. Men and women are not the same.

Women need to quit being so hard on themselves if they don’t experience the same desire as their husbands. And men need to quit thinking there must be something wrong with their wife if she doesn’t experience sexual desire as he does.

If men or women experience a lack of desire in a marital relationship. Multiple factors need to be explored: The following is a list of factors from Rosemary Basson’s article.

Women’s sexual dysfunction: revised and expanded definitions

Interpersonal and contextual factors

In a recent national probability sample of American women 20–65 years of age, their emotional relationship with the partner during sexual activity and general emotional well-being were the 2 strongest predictors of absence of distress about sex. Women who defined themselves (using standard psychological instruments) to be in good mental health were much less likely than women with lower self-rated mental health to report distress about their sexual relationship (odds ratio 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.29– 0.59). The healthier women were therefore 59% less likely to report distress about their sexual relationship. Feeling emotionally close to their partner during sexual activity decreased the odds of “slight distress” by 33% relative to “no distress,” and “marked distress” by 43%; in other words, the stronger the emotional intimacy with the partner, the less distress. Other contextual factors reported to reduce arousability included concerns about safety (risks of unwanted pregnancy and STDs, for example, or emotional or physical safety), appropriateness or privacy, or simply that the situation is insufficiently erotic, too hurried, or too late in the day.

Personal psychological factors

Frequently a woman’s arousal is precluded by the nonsexual distractions of daily life, but also sometimes by sexual distractions (e.g., worry about not becoming sufficiently aroused, reaching orgasm, a male partner’s delayed or premature ejaculation or a female partner’s lack of orgasm). Empirical studies have shown a high correlation of desire complaints with measures of low self-image, mood instability and tendency toward worry and anxiety (without meeting the clinical definition of a mood disorder). Differences between a group of 46 consecutive women with a diagnosis of desire disorder without clinical depression and a control group of 100 healthy women were significant for 6 out of 8 scales in the Narcissism Inventory (a standardized self-administered instrument). The scales indicated that the women with desire disorder had self-esteem that was weak or even fragile, emotional instability, anxiety and neuroticism. Sexual arousal and orgasm, especially in a partner’s presence, necessitates a certain degree of vulnerability, which is impossible for some women who cannot tolerate feelings of loss of control generally, and loss of control specifically of their body’s reactions.

Further inhibiting psychological factors include memories of past negative sexual experiences, including those that have been coercive or abusive, and expectations of negative outcomes to the sexual experience (e.g., from dyspareunia or partner sexual dysfunction).

Biological factors

The biological and pathophysiological underpinnings of normal and abnormal female sexual response are only recently receiving attention. Most of the basic science and animal experiments in this area are beyond the scope of this review. Some promising attempts are noted, however, in part because they relate attempts to ameliorate sexual dysfunction by means of off-label use of available drugs and to avoid the negative sexual side-effects of medications such as antidepressants.

Depression is strongly associated with reduced sexual function. Of 79 women with major depression surveyed before treatment with medication, 50% reported decreased sex drive; 50%, more difficulty obtaining vaginal lubrication; and 50%, far less sexual arousal when engaging in sex. Only 50% had been sexually active during the previous month. In addition, sexual dysfunction can constitute an adverse event of antidepressant use, especially among patients who had low levels of sexual enjoyment before the onset of their depression. When patients are specifically asked about sexual side-effects, they are acknowledged by as many as 70%.

Sexual dysfunction is also a common side-effect of treatment with antidepressants. Among women being treated, it has been found to be more common in those who are older, married, without postsecondary education, without full-time work, or taking concomitant medication (any type); those who have a comorbid illness that might affect sexual functioning, or a history of antidepressant- associated sexual dysfunction; those who deem sexual function unimportant; and those whose previous sexual engagements had afforded little pleasure.

Currently under scrutiny is the role of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in influencing sex hormone receptors and how the neurotransmitters are, in turn, influenced by sex hormones. Estrogenized female animals change their sexual behaviour when administered progesterone; studies have shown that the same changes can result from dopamine or the presence of a male animal. Among 75 non-depressed women with a DSM-IV diagnosis of hypoactive sexual desire disorder who received bupropion (a dopaminergic drug; average dose 389 mg/ d) or placebo, improvements in pleasure, arousal and orgasm were statistically significant for those administered the active drug. Interestingly, these changes were unaccompanied by increased desire.

Testosterone itself is being investigated as to its role in sexual function and dysfunction. About half of daily testosterone production in women is from the ovary. Some women with sudden loss of all ovarian production of androgens lose their sexual arousability. Supplementation to high physiological (as opposed to pharmacologically evident) levels of testosterone recently has led to increased arousability and more intense orgasmic experiences, but not to increased sexual thinking, fantasizing or spontaneous desire. Of 75 surgically menopausal women aged 31–56 participating in a randomized clinical trial of testosterone versus placebo, those given testosterone (300 μg transdermally) in addition to estrogen reported increased frequency of sexual activity, sexual pleasure and intensity of orgasm. So, reminiscent of the animal model, supplementation with a dopaminergic drug or testosterone can increase some women’s sexual arousability; but so too, as in the animal model, can environmental change (a new partner).

This may be far more information than you wanted, but I hope it helps you begin to understand the complexity of this issue.

References

Basson R. Female sexual response: the role of drugs in the management of sexual dysfunction. Obstet Gynecol 2001;98:350-353.

Basson, R. Women’s sexual dysfunction: revised and expanded definitions. CMAJ, 2005; 172:1267.

Whipple B, Brash-McGreer K. Management of female sexual dysfunction. In: Sipski ML, Alexander CJ, eds. Sexual Function in People with Disability and Chronic Illness. A Health Professional’s Guide. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.; 1997, pp 509-534.

Parts of this article were written by Rick Reynolds, LCSW and appeared first as Recovering from infidelity: Difficulties with Intimacy

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