In her book “Where Did My Libido Go?” Dr. Rosie King says that many factors can act as desire inhibitors and contribute to low sexual desire. Low sexual libido (desire) is the most common sexual problem experienced by women, some men and some non-binary & genderqueer people.
Everyone, no matter what gender identity, gender expression or biological sex, will experience low sexual desire at some time in their life, either in the short term or in the long term.
Low sexual desire can be compared to having a foot permanently stomped on the brakes in a car. When the brakes are on, no matter how hard you push the accelerator, the car won’t move. In the same way, if your desire inhibitors are present to a sufficient degree, no matter what combination of desire enhancers you try your desire won’t be aroused.
Desire enhancers won’t be effective unless desire inhibitors are reduced or eliminated altogether. To understand this unique individual balance in yourself & your partner, read more about the Dual Control Model of Sexual Response as discussed by The Kinsey Institute which has been studying human sexuality since 1947.
It is well known that differences in sex drives can lead couples down a path full of frustration, misunderstanding, resentment and despair – a path that may lead to separation and divorce. Research shows that many factors can inhibit sexual desire, and they fall into four main categories: Physical inhibitors, Psychological inhibitors, Relationship inhibitors, Situational inhibitors.
From the lists below, see which combination of factors may be contributing to your inhibited sexual desire.
Inadequate physical health; not looking after appearance & hygiene; fatigue (caused by lack of sleep, having too much on one’s plate, lack of adequate rest, too little recreation, not enough relaxation); chronic illness; acute & chronic pain; any pain on intimate touch; excess alcohol or recreational drugs; some prescribed drugs; hormonal changes (menopause, pregnancy, breast feeding, age-related); nervous system changes; chronic heart or lung disease; acute or chronic infection; auto-immune disease; cancer & cancer treatments; erectile difficulties; ejaculation problems; low arousal; lack of lubrication; inability to orgasm.
Stress; anxiety; fear; resentment; anger; sadness; depression; despair; distrust; poor self-esteem; feeling sexually inadequate; poor sex education; negative sexual attitudes; believing wrong/harmful information about sex from the media or religious institutions; poor body image; lack of pleasurable sexual thoughts & fantasies.
No consent; bad communication; no affection; no mutual decision-making; lack of trust; jealousy; no romance; no commitment; no intimacy; no constructive conflict resolution; no companionship or fun; no respect; not feeling attracted to partner; not good enough sensual & sexual skills; no appreciation.
Unfavourable environment (messy bedroom, computer/work related devices turned on, TV on); lack of time, lack of intimate environment; uncomfortable lighting; lack of privacy, no lock on door, no lock on drawer with sex toys; squeaky bed; uncomfortable room temperature; dirty & uncomfortable mattress, sheets & pillows; unresolved consent, contraception issues and/or safe sex issues.
Other Desire Inhibitors
- Sexual boredom and habituation
- Wrong belief that spontaneity should still be present. It isn’t in long-term relationships. Sex can be spontaneous if you plan it
- Unresponsive partner—feeling undesired and undesirable
- Overwhelming sexual demands of partner
- Sexual problems—male and female
- Feelings of sexual inadequacy—poor sexual self-esteem
- Discomfort with sexual repertoire
- Fear of sexual rejection—repeated sexual knock backs
- Birth control anxieties and interruptions
- Safe sex issues
- Fear of intimacy
- Lack of partner appreciation and acceptance—frequent criticism
- Unresolved relationship conflict and partner hostility.
Because your sexuality is unique and complex, some people may find themselves to be equally or more stimulated by “typical” female enhancers. On the other hand, some people may respond to enhancers that are thought of as “typically” male. It’s more helpful to think of enhancers as the unique combination of factors that appeal to you currently. Be open to these changing and evolving as you and your relationships change & evolve.
Typical Female Desire Enhancers
Romantic gestures (cards, flowers, gifts), compliments, communication, intimacy, non-demanding affection, sensuality, quality time spent with partner, low level of conflict.
Typical Male Desire Enhancers
Varied lovemaking, novelty, spontaneity, nudity (seeing the naked form), lingerie, positive sexual responses from partner, erotica, pornography.