Let's talk about sex
I have been a GP since 1990
Over the years, I have had countless conversations about sex with both men and women, but mostly women
A mismatch between libidos can create significant tension in a relationship
Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away
Good sex (pleasurable, consensual) can build a wonderful bond between partners
Bad sex (painful, coercive, non-consensual) can destroy an individual and a relationship
A mismatched libido is so common, we joke about it
For many couples, this is a short term issue
For those couples where the issue is long-term, it is usually not a laughing matter
Sex is a very individual matter and it is up to you and your partner/s to decide what suits
If, however, sex is not working for you and/or your partner/s, please read on or seek assistance
This advice is of a general nature only. For tailored advice please consult with a trusted health professional.
My top libido busters?
Mindfulness (lack of)
Why tiredness matters
There is a level of tiredness that comes to most parents with newborn children that is above and beyond anything previously imaginable
I don’t think I truly understood the term “bone weary” until I had children and was so tired that it felt like my bones actually ached
When you are so tired that your bones actually ache, bed is for sleep. Full stop. Nothing. else.
Most will need to plan how to keep their sex life alive, not just leave it to chance
For most new parents, thinking that sex will just happen before you go to sleep at night is kind of like imagining that baby will feed, change and settle themselves. It’s just not going to happen
You will probably be tired for years
You need a Plan B if your sex life is going to survive the fog of fatigue!
What you don’t want is both partners seething with resentment, one because they are desperate for sleep while the other is desperate for sex
Don’t let the bedroom become a battlefield
The joy of toddlers comes with a constant energy transfer, usually from you to them!
Are terrific! Are fun! Are always on the go!
Are full of energy—what I would have given for just a fraction! Honestly, if you could bottle and sell it, you would make a fortune!
Always want your attention, want to see what you are doing, know where you are — on the toilet? In the shower? They want to share the experience with you
Are constantly touching you, wanting to be held, lifted, carried
Use up all of the “skin hunger” you might have and then some — primary carers are overdosed on skin to skin contact and often, by the end of the day, simply don’t want to be touched
The combination of being tired out and overdosed on skin contact often results in (usually) mum wanting (usually) dad to take the child/ren as soon as he gets home (especially if it is horror hour) and not.wanting.to.touch.anyone for hours, maybe days, months or sometimes even years
Dad (usually) has not had a day of wearing a toddler and is not physically exhausted by the constant demands of toddlerhood. Does.want.physical.touch.
This often creates an unrecognised and unspoken tension
Can be good or bad
Are you feeling happy? Sad? Angry? Joyful? Anxious? Calm? Depressed?
All of the above?
All of the above at once?
Your emotions impact upon your libido, especially if you are tired and depressed
How is the relationship with your partner/s?
Do you feel valued and supported?
How is the relationship with yourself?
How is your self esteem?
Are you relishing your new role or feeling lost and numb, not sure who you are anymore?
Your environment matters
Is your house cluttered and chaotic? This is very common, does it bother you?
When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Which version of you? Everyday you? Magnificent you? Frumpy mother? Exhausted mother? Awesome mother? Earth mother? Sex goddess? What does your partner see? What do you think they see?
Are your walls thin and is your mother-in-law in the next room?
Do you have a free-range toddler with variable sleep habits and you fear being sprung in the act?
When was the last time you had sexy underwear? Do maternity bras look/feel sexy to you?
What can you do to create the right environment for good sex? Music? Wine? Food? Movie? Weekend away (without child/ren)? Perfume? Rose petals?
What about these items: Bed made? Kids asleep? Ironing done? Kitchen clean? Laundry pile not about to fall over?
To quote the wonderful Dr Rosie King, for women, a strong libido, the rip-their-clothes-off-and-jump-their-bones stuff you see in the movies or on TV usually lasts for 12 months, 18 if your parents hate them. It typically, but not always, nose dives after having children. You may need to consider a move from desire-driven sex to decision-driven sex. Plan sex. Don’t rely solely on desire-driven spontaneous sex, plan to have good-enough-to-want-to-do-this-more-often-sex on purpose.
If only it were this simple….
I wish. I really wish. I really, really wish it were simple
Sometimes it is
Sometimes it is a matter of adjusting contraception
Treating iron deficiency
Allowing hormones time to restore
Managing anxiety or depression
Working on the pelvic floor
Following up a tear or episiotomy
Debriefing after a complicated pregnancy or birth
These things should ALWAYS be considered. Even if they are present though, in my experience, they rarely account for loss of libido entirely by themselves. There is usually more to it
Take a moment to step into the moment
Do you have 100 things on your to-do list? All of which are important?
Are you planning the day/week/month while trying to “get in the mood”?
Whether you are in the mood or you have made a decision to have good sex today, focus on the moment
Use the power of your mind to take in the full sensory experience
Don’t get distracted
Stay on task
Be present in the moment
Put all the other “stuff” to one side
Given time, the tiredness lessens, toddlers grow up, skin hunger returns and you will have more control over your environment. Work on strengthening your relationship, take note of your emotional triggers, deal with the medical issues if and when they arise and always, always, stay in the moment
Best of luck