Ever since the advent of Viagra, we've been led to believe that hot sex is as close as the nearest pharmacy. If the millions of prescriptions filled for the "little blue pill" are any indication, men can solve their sexual problems just by taking a medication. Your guy isn't quite "up" for sex? No problem -- just let him pop a pill! No wonder researchers are on the quest for a companion pill to boost low female sexual desire.
Of course, nothing in life is this simple, especially sex. For starters, Viagra treats erectile dysfunction (arousal), not low libido (desire), in men. The drug will have little effect if a man isn't in the mood for sex to begin with. And even though you may be thinking, "Guys? They're always in the mood," nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as a contributor to Good in Bed and psychiatrist specializing in sex and relationship issues, I meet a lot of women who want more sex -- and their husbands, who have a constant proverbial headache.
Men actually grapple with decreased sexual desire just as much as women. Those stereotypes about guys and their raging libidos are just that -- stereotypes. Of course, that's little consolation when you're faced with this situation. If you're a woman with a healthy sex drive, it can be beyond frustrating to have a male partner who's less than enthusiastic about getting it on.
Try not to take his disinterest personally. Put yourself in his shoes and lose the accusatory tone -- after all, there's nothing less sexy than being attacked. Instead, approach the subject gently by putting the focus on your feelings, not his shortcomings. You might say something like, "I miss feeling close to you. I want to help you understand what's happening and why." Low male libido can have a number of causes -- what's affecting his?
Biological. There are a number of possible physical causes for low male sexual desire, from heart disease, to antidepressants, to alcohol or drug use, to low levels of testosterone. If he's ruled out other factors, it's a good idea to pay a visit to his doctor.
Emotional. A guy's sex drive is often closely tied to his self-esteem -- when one suffers, so does the other. The economic downturn has sent lots of men into a funk: job changes or loss, financial worries, and depression can all add up to a low libido. He may feel like less of a man, no matter how much you tell him that money doesn't matter.
Relationship. Feelings like anger, resentment, and general dissatisfaction with his relationship can play havoc on a man's sex life with his partner -- but these issues don't necessarily sink his libido. Sure, he may claim he's not in the mood. But he may simply be putting his sexual energy elsewhere, whether into masturbation, porn, strip clubs, or an affair.
Pinpointing the source of your partner's low libido is a start, but let's face it: Knowledge may be power, but it doesn't give you an orgasm. Talk about the issue as a team, and approach it as one. You're a couple, and you both should be invested in making your sex life better. Whether that means having deep, honest conversations, making an appointment with a sex therapist or other counselor, or both, you can work through a low libido and achieve a healthier, happier sex life, together.
Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, columnist, bestselling author, television commentator and a contributor to Good in Bed. Saltz is a regular health, sex and relationship contributor to the Today show and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC's The View, Dateline, ABC's 20/20 and CNN's Larry King Live among others. Saltz most recently wrote The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead To a Better Life, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, a psychoanalyst with The New York Psychoanalytic Institute and has a private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For more info, please visit drgailsaltz.com.