When Life Zaps Your Sex Drive

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Couple kissing in bed
Scary Mommy and Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty

I was horny as hell when I was pregnant. I’d call my (then) husband, asking him to come home from work for a booty call. I didn’t necessarily feel sexy with my swollen belly and boobs that made it hard to drive; that didn’t matter though. I was ready to go all the damn time.

I’d lie on the sofa and call to him at night while he was doing paperwork because I longed to have an orgasm, yet I couldn’t move.

Then we had the baby. He was counting down the days until my six-week dry spell could be moisturized again, and I was dreading it even more than I was dreading having the speculum part my lips to make sure all was well during my postpartum visit.

It wasn’t solely that I was sore and a puddle of hormonal soup that kept me from wanting to knock boots. It was because I’d felt like I’d delivered my libido when my baby was born — and it didn’t come back for a long while. Not after I was healed. Not after our son started napping regularly and sleeping through the night. Not after a few glasses of wine. And not even after my then-husband pulled out all the stops, sending me flowers and making a nice dinner.

Eventually, it came back with a vengeance, and before we knew it, I was pregnant again. I was just as ripe during my second pregnancy and as soon as I had the baby, it was gone again.

I was with the same man for almost 20 years. We were so comfortable with each other, and while his libido always seemed to stand the test of time, mine ebbed and flowed like the tide.

I always wondered if maybe there was something wrong with me. Had I lost that loving feeling? It was hard on our relationship, and I’d sometimes have sex even if I wasn’t in the mood.

I now know I hadn’t lost a thing, and everything I was feeling — whether it was hot and horny or like I never wanted to be touched again — was completely normal. You can still be madly in love with someone and feel like the request of having to do one more thing, zaps all your energy. Everyday life and its demands will do that to a person.

Let’s face it — sex and intimacy take energy. Valuable energy. It draws from the reserves we save for our kids, a sick parent, a big work project or trying to fight the common cold. Life can zap that libido so fast your privates won’t know what hit them. After all, our minds have to be right in order to feel sexual, and the mental load of being a mother is enough to drag it down.

Throw in work, your kids needing you at every turn, and feeling like you can’t be touched by anyone else at the end of the day, and sex is often the first thing to go.

But not having sex, or going through a dry spell, doesn’t mean you don’t want to be with your partner. It just means you are too tired or not in the mental space to have sex, period.

I got a reminder of this last week when I was heading upstairs with my boyfriend. We were both finally kid-free and hadn’t seen each other for four days. We’ve been dating under a year and we all know what that does to your libido. You walk around like a dog in heat and have thoughts about having sex in every room.

But I was tired. Not just the kind of tired where you feel like you can play along if they do all the work either. I was so tired I couldn’t see straight and knew there was no way I could even orgasm because I’d probably fall asleep as soon as my body was horizontal.

My point is, I’m madly in love, and not wanting to have sex doesn’t mean I love him any less. Convincing myself to do the deed when I feel like I’ve been zapped with a horse tranquilizer wouldn’t mean I love him more either.

What’s even more important is you should have a partner who understand you aren’t always in the mood so you can take care of yourself first. It’s not only incredibly compassionate; it also makes for an epic session later after you are rested and feel heard and respected.

Sex isn’t a measure of love or how much you care about someone. It shouldn’t be used to prove you’re invested in your relationship — especially if you feel so mentally drained you’re dozing off while you are pumping away.

Life has a way of stripping us of every last ounce of energy. When you feel like sexual pleasure is now a chore and you are pressured to show your commitment in the way, it’s the last thing you want to do.

Sex is supposed to be fun for all involved. And if you’re too exhausted or you feel like your sex drive has left the building, it’s okay. In fact, it’s completely normal.

Don’t put the weight of criticizing yourself on your shoulders with everything else. Rest assured, your sex drive will come back, and don’t be afraid to speak up about it. You have enough to carry, and honestly, they only thing feeling guilty about it will do is make your sex life shrink even more.

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