As we enter spring soon, I'm delighted to reveal that I'm pregnant again. This also means I’ve descended into the depths of female low desire, yet another time. I was always taught in my sexological studies that pregnancy means raging hormones and super elevated levels of arousal. When I got pregnant with my first son, I very quickly learned that this was not to be my fate!
I was not incorrect that my second pregnancy afforded me the same opportunity to experience low desire. However, this time I was prepared! Below are the “preventive medicine” tips I’ve successfully employed, and also teach clients who struggle with lower levels of desire.
First, let’s define desire so we are all on the same page.
Desire is how we turn on our brains for sex. Arousal, by comparison, is how we turn on our bodies. Because the brain is the biggest sex organ, the mechanisms of desire can be complex. Thus, we may have to play some brain games to get in the mood!
6 Sexy Tips—
1) Set an intentional erotic date once a week.
This need not be intercourse, so long as it addresses the erotic intimacy of the relationship. The idea is to program your brain to get into the habit of connecting erotically once a week. We want this date to eventually become a sacred ritual, versus seep into the category of “annoying obligation”. The other secret to once a week is the ability to create a day and time that works really well for the low desire partner. This may mean an afternoon when energy levels are not depleted from the day.
2) Arousal before Desire.
Sometimes we have to drag ourselves to the gym. Once we are there and working out, the endorphins kick in and our brains have booted up: “I’m glad I’m here; this is not so bad!” Similarly, we may have to trust that once our bodies are booted up and aroused, the brain will fall in synch soon after.
3) Relaxation before Arousal.
It is difficult to get aroused when we are stressed or overloaded. For many of us, especially if we have busy lives, jobs, and/or kids, this is always the case. Making time for relaxation may feel “unproductive”. However, carving out a some time to relax before connecting erotically is essential to getting in the mood. This can be a quick shower to wash off the day’s stress, or a longer bath, or time to read. Whatever your choice, make sure you schedule a bit of relaxation time before the erotic date.
4) Don’t have wild Hollywood expectations.
We are not Hollywood stars. We do not have sex like are we are in the movies or in a porn flick. Both are unrealistic performances of how couples sexually connect. Managing our expectations in the bedroom will allow us to actually enhance our pleasure and not feel the stage fright. We may take a longer time to get aroused—yes, like 20-40 minutes, ladies. We may take a longer time to reach orgasm. We may need additional support of a vibrator before, during, or after. There is no right way or correct order to have sex. The idea is to have a fun, pleasurable time together.
5) Now, once you are there, get out of your brain and into your body.
Don’t be a spectator watching your legs giggle. This doesn’t help our sexual mood. Our partners don’t care. They are just happy we are finally connecting! So rather than observe your body from the outside, observe your body from the inside. Feel into the enjoyable sensations that are taking hold and ride the wave of pleasure.
6) Share the tips above with your partner.
Partner sex is a team sport. When we have a desire discrepancy, solving it is best done together. If we tell the low desire partner, “go fix yourself”, that won’t bode well for the relationship, or for sexual desire. Rather, look for the opportunities to help each other decompress from a stressful day—to support each other in making dinner, doing dishes, bathing the kids. Find times to pass the baton in order to take turns relaxing. Practice compassion with yourself and each other when there is a need to take a rain-check if the erotic date feels like too much at the moment. And never forget to communicate to one another: I love you; I desire you; You are sexy—even if I am less able right now to engage sexually.