Where did my drive go?
I’ve always had a high drive, pretty much since puberty. In the early years of our marriage I used to post on TMB because my husband struggled with ED and had a lower drive than mine and I felt frustrated. Then things improved on his end, partly due to us working through it and partly due to readily-available Viagra, and we had several good years.
But about a year ago my drive suddenly disappeared, and I don’t know why. I would like to get it back, because I miss the enjoyment I used to get from sex, and because my husband is now the one feeling frustrated. I am always willing and almost never say no, but he says it doesn’t feel very worthwhile for him if I’m not visibly getting much out of it, and so he rarely initiates.
We went to a sex therapist (the same one who was quite helpful with the ED in the early days), but she wasn’t much help. She started off saying she was sure it will get better by itself, and then when it didn’t, she said that sometimes women in their 30s experience a shift from spontaneous to reactive desire and that this isn’t a bad thing and we just have to get used to it. But I don’t think that’s what’s happened; it’s more like a loss of desire overall, and it is a bad thing.
I went to the doctor and she did some blood tests to rule out physical problems like thyroid.
I don’t think it’s menopause: I’m only in my 30s and I don’t have any other menopausal symptoms.
It might be related to the contraceptive pill. I was on the combined pill, and I was getting swirly disturbances in my vision, and my doctor thought it might be due to the pill and switched me to the progesterone-only mini pill. So it could be that, but I don’t really think so, because there were several months between switching pills and losing sex drive, and because I have been on the mini pill before (while breastfeeding each of our children) without experiencing this problem (although each time I had a newborn baby, so it’s possible my drive did reduce and I just put it down to postpartum hormonal changes and sleepless nights). Also, I thought it was (o)estrogen that lowered sex drive, so that should mean the progesterone-only pill is better, right? Anyway, I have a doctor’s appointment later this week to ask about going back to the combined pill to see if that’ll help.
There is one other thing that could have caused it. We’re a bit kinky and one of the kinks we experimented with was edging: getting each other very excited and close to orgasm and then deliberately not going all the way. I had read about it and fantasised about it and found the idea very arousing. But when we tried it in real life it was much less enjoyable than I expected, and the timing fits with my loss of drive, so it’s possible that that caused it, as if my body were saying “if you’re going to let me get that excited and then go unfulfilled, I won’t bother any more!” And I wonder if edging was an unwise thing for me to try given my history, as I have a lot of experience of *involuntarily* getting really excited and then being let down, due to my husband’s ED. But if that’s the case, my sex drive shutting down seems like a big overreaction to one episode of deliberate edging – especially since frequent involuntary “edging” over several years *didn’t* have that effect.
I don’t have any other ideas about what could have caused it. Our relationship is otherwise very healthy: we love each other very much and enjoy each other’s company and both feel very lucky to have each other. There haven’t been any significant changes in our relationship or our individual emotional lives.
I would suspect birth control. It had all sorts of weird effects on my wife when she was on it (which is why I agreed to get snipped after the birth of our last child).
I could talk to your OB/GYN about switching pills and/or having conversations with your husband about other birth control methods.
I would agree with the answers above. The mini-pill can still sometimes suppress ovulation (which can lead to decreased sex drive) and I know that depo-provera (which is a high dose of progesterone) can lower sex drive significantly (it’s given sometimes to sex offenders to decrease their sex drive). Perhaps there are other forms of birth control that might be considered? The mini-pill itself isn’t super effective anyway. I use the copper IUD which does not release hormones and has definitely not decreased my sex drive. However, some people aren’t comfortable with IUD’s. Maybe mention it to your doctor and see about other options (beyond the mini-pill and combined OC’s).
Other factors to consider would be additional stress in your life which can cause a decrease in sex drive. Also, if you were started on antidepressants (namely SSRI’s), they are notorious for killing sex drive unfortunately. But from what you described it seems to correlate mostly with the mini-pill. Anyway, I hope you are able to get your drive back as I’m sure that can be frustrating!
While it may or may not have anything to do with it (though it would be my first guess), you really should have your DH get a vasectomy (or you a tubal ligation) and get off hormonal birth control if you are done having kids. The permanent options have excellent success rates, will be cheaper long term for whoever pays for it, and don’t come with the plethora of question marks around hormonal contraceptives. There are a huge number of potential drawbacks/side effects with the hormonal stuff, not even mentioning the potential for an “oops” baby.
Now, depending on when you started using hormonal birth control (if it was right at the onset of puberty), it’s possible that the hormones were increasing your drive artificially. Not very common, but not impossible.
“my husband is now the one feeling frustrated. I am always willing and almost never say no, but he says it doesn’t feel very worthwhile for him if I’m not visibly getting much out of it, and so he rarely initiates.”
Good job on trying to figure out what is going on. What you are describing, while new to you, sounds exactly like living with responsive desire. This is how my wife has always been. While I would love for her to be a high drive sex queen, we still have a quality sex life and a solid marriage. So don’t give up if you have a tough time getting your drive back. With understanding on both ends, things can get better.
I went to the GP and she said it’s not safe for me to go back on the combined pill, but she suggested an IUD, so I’m probably going to go for that.
@Scott, I had several years between puberty and starting BC, and also a few years as an adult not being on it, so it wasn’t that the BC was artificially increasing my drive (sensible suggestion though). I suggested vasectomy and DH said he wouldn’t rule it out. (No method is safe from oops babies though. We have friends who had one post-vasectomy.)
@Tim, it doesn’t feel like “responsive desire” to me. Before, I had very high spontaneous and responsive desire. More recently, I’ve had low (but nonzero) spontaneous desire, and basically zero responsive desire. In other words, sometimes I feel spontaneously aroused (but less often and less intensely than before), but if I don’t already feel aroused and he initiates things, it doesn’t do anything for me at all, and I willingly let him, but am not enjoying it myself, and he can tell that and it makes it feel not worth it for him.
This week I did feel spontaneously aroused twice and initiated things. For us, that has to involve clearly suggesting it in words, so that DH has the opportunity to take his ED medication – even though I would much prefer to initiate subtly and non-verbally (partly to have plausible deniability because I fear rejection). But one of the things the sex therapist helped with this time round (which I forgot to mention before) is to encourage us both to communicate really clearly and verbally about intentions to have sex, so we don’t get the problem where one of us tries to initiate subtly and the other one misses the signals (or the problem where I intiiate and he’s up for it but hasn’t had the opportunity to take his medication).
So, on Weds and Fri I pushed through my awkwardness and embarrassment to suggest sex in a clear verbal way. On Weds he said no because he was too tired. I didn’t feel sexually frustrated (I would have a year ago, but wasn’t aroused enough for that) but did feel disappointed and a bit rejected. But on Fri I worked myself up to suggesting it again despite that, and it worked out very well.
I can’t say for sure, but I would guess it is hormone related. Whether it is the pill or other things going on. You could get a blood work and a hormonal panal done with a bhrt doctor. If nothing else, it will give you baseline for as you age and hit the perimenopausal years (which I had an aunt start when she was 38, and it lasted 10 yrs.)
As someone else said on another thread, I’m not sure if hormonal panels and BHRT doctors are a thing here in the UK. Your GP orders the blood tests they think are necessary and if those come back normal you’re at a dead end. I think I’ll ask her what ones she did, though, because I don’t even know that.
I was on combined-pill birth control for years without it affecting my drive – but it is definitely a possibility that the mini pill affects it for some reason, so I will try going back on the combined pill if the GP thinks it’s safe (i.e. if she doesn’t think the visual disturbances indicate a dangerous blood pressure problem or something). I did look into alternative methods years ago when I had unexplaied tiredness and wondered if that was because of the pill, so we tried the diaphragm and condoms and didn’t get on well with them. Vasectomy is a possibility now that we’re done having kids, so we can discuss that.
Contraceptive pill is a possible culprit, although the delay between switching pills and onset of symptoms suggests it may well be something else. Definitely worth asking your GP and seeing what they recommend.
It’s unlikely to have been caused by trying edging once.
I already did ask the GP. She did some blood tests, they came back normal, so she doesn’t have any further recommendations. I am seeing her on Friday to ask if I can go back to the combined pill to see if that helps, but I don’t have very high hopes.