Monday, August 10, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have...More Sleep

Dear Dr. Kate,

I am a 27 year old woman. I have four children and have been very happily married for ten years. My problem is that I have no sex drive whatsoever. I have tried almost everything except pills which I want to stay away from. I know four children sounds like a lot of work and it is but I stay at home with them so it's not as stressful if I was working and being mom. But at the end of the day no matter how much I rest during the day or how many days a week I try not to do to much but just let my body rest, I still have no desire for lovemaking. It has been like this for nine years now after I had my first child. I went to several different doctors and they all tell me a different thing. Anything from over-working myself to being to stressed out. One doctor said I needed to wait at least one year for my hormones to get back to normal. There is at least two years difference between all my children and three between my second and third and still I have nothing. My husband has truly truly been great about this whole thing but it's very frustrating to me. We still have sex but it's just not the same anymore. I don't expected to be perfect every time but at least sometimes. I just don't know what to think anymore or what to do. Can you help???

Thank you,

Dear Tired,

Of COURSE you're tired. I have a 3-month old at home, and it's more tiring than med school and internship put together...and I only have one child. And you've been a mom for awhile, now. It's not your hormones - it's your life that's different after kids. But cliches aside, sex doesn't have to stop after parenthood begins.

This may sound strange, but I want you to think about why you want to have sex. We all have sex for many reasons, and there may be other things that you can do to also meet these wants:
  • You want to feel close to your husband. I'm glad he's so understanding; make sure you're getting enough time for the non-sex stuff, like hugs, time on the couch watching a movie, and even making out.
  • You want to feel like a woman, not just a mommy. I'm sure there are days that you feel like a pair of breasts (if you're breast-feeding) with a wallet and a set of car keys.
  • You think you should. In survey after survey, people in the US roughly break down into thirds: 1/3 of us have sex twice a week, twice a month, or twice a year. So there's no "normal" amount of sex to have.
  • You want a penis in your vagina. Okay, there's no getting around this one.
Now you can think about why you think you don't want to have sex these days. Think beyond the fatigue...
  • You're out of touch with your body. It's funny how the product of sex (your little ones) can make you feel asexual. You may need to take time to see yourself as attractive and sexy again, whether it's as simple as perfumed lotion or a push-up bra, or making time to go to the gym to feel strong in your body. And masturbation may help as well - a few easy orgasms with a great vibrator may make you want to come with your husband even more.
  • You're afraid of getting pregnant. Your gyno can talk with you about birth control options (the IUD may be perfect) so you don't need to think about having #5.
  • You're afraid the kids are going to walk in. Nothing kills the mood faster than a little voice at the end of the bed asking, "Mommy, what is Daddy doing?" If you can get good child-care, take an evening in a hotel with your hubby; even if it's just a few hours, you can just be the two of you for a time.
  • You don't have time. First, there's getting you and your husband in a room, alone, and awake. Then there's foreplay, a good sex prerequisite. Not that quickies are a bad thing, but women on average need 20-30 minutes of good foreplay before sex is comfy. So there's nothing wrong with needing/taking this much time.
  • Sex outright hurts. Especially when you haven't had sex in awhile, or if you're not getting enough foreplay. If your local drugstore is lacking, or you don't have time to shop, check out the lubricants at Good Vibrations and Babeland.
  • Sex isn't good for you. Even if it doesn't hurt, sex that doesn't lead to semi-regular orgasms isn't that appealing. So if intercourse isn't your ticket to paradise, make sure that you're getting enough manual/oral/vibe stimulation before/during/after intercourse.
There's never an easy answer for not wanting sex...and there's no pill that will fix this ill, either. Think about what has changed, what you think may make it better, and talk with your husband about it. The two of you together will figure out a way to get the fire back.

Best of health,
Dr. Kate

Photo credit: obo-bobolina

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