I’m sitting at a table with my friend and a few other women having lunch. I know my bestie’s going to bring up her ravenous sex life with her husband. And I will go silent, recede deep into myself in order to find a happy place far, far away from this conversation and its enthralled audience. If I share my truth, it will drop like a lead balloon.
It has been a long time since I have actually wanted to have sex.
Talking about it isn’t like walking on eggshells, it’s more like walking on bubble wrap: one wrong move and my foot is tamping down on an explosion of feelings. I don’t know how this happened. I love my husband, and yet I had no desire to be intimate with him. I can’t pinpoint the moment I started clamping my eyes shut when I heard my husband walking down the hall toward our bedroom. I can’t remember what it’s like to not feel anxious that he wants to see me naked. I genuinely have no idea anymore what it’s like to dance with your husband instead of around him. If I bring any of this up at lunch, my fear is I’d suck the air right out of the room.
I actually want to want to have sex. It’s the wanting it part that has gone away. I spend 100 percent of my time exhausted because — let me get really real for a minute — it’s a lot of work to not have this much sex.
I have a mental to-do list of ways to avoid intimacy that I run through on the daily. Between the feelings I’m drowning in and my avoid-at-all-costs sexless to-dos, I’m worried about my relationship. How long can I keep this going before I crash and my relationship burns?
Sitting at lunch, I found my happy place by deciding I wasn’t going to white knuckle my way through this kind of life. I was going to see if what I was experiencing was a “thing,” and if it was, whether treatments were available.
It turns out that approximately ~1 in 10 US women suffer from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), which is a common, treatable medical condition characterized by ongoing low sexual desire that women find frustrating.1-4 In fact, millions of women in the United States suffer from HSDD, but few talk to their doctor about it.
There is a range of reasons women like me acknowledge they are struggling but stop short of talking to their doctors. Many believe their low desire will eventually pass or that it’s a normal condition of a long-term relationship.6 I know I didn’t want to talk to my doctor because I felt like everything else was more important — despite the fact my low desire was making me miserable and I was worried about my relationship. Plus, talking to my doctor about my sex life would have sent my prude-ish anxiety sweats into overdrive.
But sometimes our quality of life gets so needlessly low that we overcome whatever shame we have and speak up. That’s what I did. I wasn’t going to let old school hang-ups about sex that should have ended a million years ago stop me from saying, “My sex life sucks, and it’s affecting every part of my life.”
If you’re feeling like low desire is affecting your life too, ask yourself some questions and talk to your doctor about treatment options.
- Were you previously satisfied with your sexual desire?
- Has there been a decrease in your level of sexual desire?
- Are you bothered by this decrease?
- Would you like your sexual desire to increase?
Feeling seen can change everything — it’s opened me up to a community of women who are speaking up about HSDD. unblush is that community, and it’s full of women who understand the confusion and struggles of low sexual desire.
After years of suffering quietly, I’m looking forward to minimizing stress and finding my voice again. I’m working with my doctor on a treatment plan and can’t wait to get my groove back.
unblush gives women the straightforward facts about Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder so they can get the help they need. If you’re currently experiencing low sexual desire, talk to your doctor about treatment options and check out unblush for more information.
1. Kingsberg SA, Clayton AH, Pfaus JG. The female sexual response: current models, neurobiological underpinnings and agents currently approved or under investigation for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. CNS Drugs. 2015;29(11):915-933.doi:10.1007/s40263-015-0288-1.
2. Vyleesi [prescribing information]. Waltham, MA: AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc; 2019.
3. Kingsberg SA. Attitudinal survey of women living with low sexual desire. J Womens Health. 2014;23(10):817-823.
4. Goldstein SR, Kingsberg SA, Simon JA. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD): a primer for clinicians. OBG Manag. 2016 (suppl): S1-S4. https://www.mdedge.com/sites/default/files/obgm_worldclasssuppl_1016.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2019.
5. Clayton AH, Kingsberg SA, Goldstein I. Evaluation and management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Sex Med. 2018;6(2):59-74.
6. Maserejian NN, Parish S, Shifren JL, Huang L, Gerstenberger E, Rosen RC. Healthcare utilization in women diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder: interim baseline results from the HSDD Registry for Women. J Women’s Health. 2010;19(11):2001-2009.