Sexual Desire & Women: From Pleasing to Pleasure
Have you experienced low or no desire in your sexual relationship? If so, you are not alone. Women of all ages experience low desire in their relationships for various reasons. Low desire might be something that is new for you or you might have been struggling with it for years.
Often as women, due to cultural messages we receive from a young age, we feel pressure to please our partner regardless of how we feel in the moment about a sexual encounter. It is wonderful to want and to please our partner when we are in to the sexual experience and also receiving pleasure. If our mind, body or heart is not in to it for whatever reasons and we go through the motions this can be a detriment for us and our partner.
When ignoring how we feel inside and instead get into a pattern of “getting it over with” we can increasingly lower our desire for sex. Most partners report it feeling awful when their partner is going through the motions, does not want to be there, or it feels like an obligation. We might be doing it for our partner but the experience is often at least somewhat if not completely negative for both.
Then what do we do if we are experiencing low desire and our partner is expressing frustration or a desire to have more sex. What do we do if we want to “want” to have sex but the fire seems to have burned out. Where do we begin? The answers are within. This is complex and everything shared here may not be appropriate for everyone experiencing low desire. This will just be a place to start.
In this multi-part series, I will share amazing books and information which will hopefully give you place to start your journey of looking inside and finding your path to pleasure.
My favorite books on the topic:
Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Dr. Emily Nagoski (Workbook Also Available)
Emily breaks down our sexual experience as women. She normalizes the many parts of our sexuality that we worry about or that may even bring us shame. Emily identifies that sexual desire happens between our ears rather than between our legs. For women our emotional state and context matter.
Many of us learned about sex through peers and the media. When this is are only exposure to sex we expect ourselves and our body to show up to sexual experiences the way it happens for women in the movies. What we often see depicted is spontaneous desire, followed by hot, passionate, sex with a big mutual orgasm from intercourse alone. This is NOT reality for most women, most of the time. Many of us then feel embarrassed or ashamed that sex looks or feels different for us. We may tell ourselves many stories to make sense of how our experience is different sometimes leaving us feeling broken or deficient. We are NOT broken and deficient! And if that was not enough talking about sex is taboo so many of us do not talk to friends, our moms, sisters, aunties or anyone else about sex leaving us feeling more alone. If you can relate to any of the above I highly encourage you to read Come As You Are as a great place to start your journey. (It’s a great listen on audible, read by Emily.)
Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire By Dr. Lori A. Brotto
After you finish Come As You Are please consider checking out Better Sex Through Mindfulness. If it is after October 18 2022 you can also check out her workbook. Many of us lead busy, hectic lives leaving our minds racing. We may even find that it does not stop when we are having sex. We may even feel like a “spectator” during sex. We are there physically but our minds are elsewhere on our grocery list, judging our bodies, or our sexual performance. Women who have experienced sexual trauma may also experience disconnected sex due to dissociating. Dissociating was a natural way to stay safe during the sexual abuse. Sexual experiences can continue to trigger this trauma response even many years later in a safe relationship. Other women experience a lack of sexual response after cancer treatment. There are many reasons women experience low desire and lack of sexual response. Above are just a few. It can be a painful and frustrating experience regardless of the reason.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool which can help many women reconnect their body and mind in general and during sex. Mindfulness helps with mood and stress as well. Many women experience low desire due to depression, anxiety, and/or stress. Researchers believe mindfulness may be helping women experience more desire because it is helping them reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and/or stress.
Mindfulness has been a powerful tool in my own life in reducing depression, anxiety, and stress. It is exciting to learn it can also help with sexual desire. If you are interested in starting a mindfulness practice before you have time to read both books check out my video on learning to meditate.
Michelle Puster M.Ed., LPC
Katy Couples & Wellness Counseling
Helping couples Find Us Again
Couples Therapy, Sex Therapy, & Mindfulness Based Trauma Therapy
This blog is brought to you by our Learning to Meditate Series. Have you heard all the great things about mediation but thought it’s not for me? My mind is too busy. I cannot imagine sitting silently for a minute much less 20. You are not alone. A version of this is most peoples’ reaction to mediation. Mindfulness and mediation is such a powerful tool and one that I personally have benefited from greatly so I have to share. In this 5-part series I break down learning mediation to keep it simple for everyone. Check it out!