One of the most common sexual health concerns from women is the lack of sex drive. In fact, the majority of women report that their partner’s sex drive is higher. This imbalance ultimately causes stress in the relationship. One of my favorite quotes, is “when sex is going well, it is 20% of the relationship”. When it is not going well it is 80%”. (If you know who said this let me know @mjenkinsmd)
The solution lies in the fact that there are two parts to sexual desire. There is sex drive, which is the reflexive physical desire to have sex, triggering a physical arousal such as an erection, nipples hardening, and pupils dilating. Second, is the more elusive, sexual motivation.
It is not enough to have only sex drive; we also need the emotional and psychological motivation to actually have a healthy sexually satisfying encounter. What motivates us to have sex? Things like physical attraction, procreation, gratification, or even get an okay to remodel the kitchen. On the last one, I can already hear the gasps and groans, but really, come on….you know you have had sex with your partner to steer them in the right (and by right, I do mean “your”) direction. Back to drive and motivation - sex drive can be effected by things such as hormones, medications, and medical conditions. Motivation is impacted by trust, respect, and interpersonal dynamics.
Here is an example: John and Sue have been married for six years. They have two children age three and five years old. John had an affair with a co-worker. John ended the affair and he and Sue have committed to saving their marriage. But after one year, Sue still has no desire to have sex with John. When you ask Sue about whether she fantasizes about sex she says yes and she can masturbate to orgasm, but when John makes sexual advances, Sue feels nothing. In this example, Sue’s sex drive is intact. She thinks about sex and will initiate self-pleasure, but Sue has lost trust and respect for John and that is effecting her sexual motivation.
The next time you think your sex drive is gone, remember, you can have drive but no motivation, or motivation but no drive, but to really make it work you need both.