Sex is very rarely the be-all and end-all of relationships, especially long-term relationships. With that being said, it often makes up an important aspect of your relationship.
Having sex with your partner provides you with intimacy and physical touch that you don’t get from other relationships in your life.
Therefore, when you notice that your sex drive has gotten lower or is completely non-existent, this can begin to cause problems in your relationship.
If you are struggling with your sex drive and are concerned that it is going to have a negative effect on your relationship, it can make the problem worse.
In this guide, we are going to focus on the underlying causes of low sex drive, how it can affect your relationship, and the steps you can take to protect your relationship and solve the issue.
If you want to proactively protect your relationship from a lack of sex drive and intimacy, read on.
What Causes A Low Sex Drive?
If you have noticed that your relationship isn’t as intimate as it usually is, it can initially be quite concerning and even distressing.
You might begin to worry about the attraction felt between you and your partner, whether things have changed between you, and how your partner feels about you.
In reality, there are many different causes of changes in libido that have nothing to do with the level of attraction between you and your partner.
In fact, many causes are natural parts of life that are unavoidable and most importantly, are temporary.
Below, we will look at some of the most common causes of decreased libido.
There are certain types of medication that have been directly linked to a loss of libido.
The most common types of medication that are known to affect libido are SSRI antidepressants, antihistamines, heart medication, and antipsychotic medication.
Some forms of hormonal contraception can also have an effect on your sex drive.
The change in your sex drive when starting any of these medications can be very abrupt.
However, many of these medications are necessary to protect and improve your physical or mental health.
For some people, the effect on their sex drive lessens as they continue to take the medication and their body gets used to it.
Changes and imbalances in your hormones can also have a significant impact on your sex drive. These changes can be as simple as being part of your menstrual cycle.
However, it can also be a symptom of the menopause, PCOS, and PMDD. Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopause or gender-affirming treatment can also have an effect on your libido.
If you experience dips in your libido at certain times of the month, this could be a side effect of your natural menstrual cycle.
However, if this is a prolonged issue and you are having other symptoms of things such as the menopause or PCOS, you should visit your doctor to get it checked out.
Stress And Burnout
For most people, sex is a pleasurable act that helps them to feel more relaxed and happy.
However, if we become too stressed or tired, we can’t even muster up the desire to engage in sex to receive the stress-relieving benefits.
If you have been especially busy in life or work and are beginning to feel burned out, you may experience a drop in your libido.
Similarly, if you are experiencing a lot of stress in your personal or professional life, you might not be able to get into the right mindset to enjoy or want to engage in sex.
Vaginal Pain And Discomfort
There are many causes of vaginal pain or discomfort. Some of these causes are serious and some are common and can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
Conditions such as yeast infections, vaginitis, vaginismus, vulvodynia, or dyspareunia can all cause pain during sex.
You may also experience undiagnosed pain where the cause is unknown.
If you experience pain during penetrative sex, it is understandable that you will become disinterested in having sex.
If you are experiencing pain during sex, you should get the cause checked out by a doctor.
Don’t try and push through to keep up your sex life as this can cause additional stress and tension which can make the situation worse.
Long-Term Health Conditions
If you are suffering from a long-term health condition, especially one that causes you pain, you may not feel like engaging in sex.
Having to navigate constant symptoms that affect your daily life can be exhausting and means that sex is likely to be the furthest thing from your mind.
Symptoms such as consistent pain, dizziness, and fatigue can be incredibly difficult to ignore in order to prioritize physical intimacy.
These types of health conditions can also cause significant stress which can also have a detrimental effect on your libido.
Changes In Your Body
While there are many invisible reasons why you might experience a decrease in your libido, there are also some visible reasons.
Although self-love is becoming a much more popular concept, especially on social media, physical changes to your body can be difficult to come to terms with, especially if they aren’t planned.
Unintended weight gain or weight loss, surgery, birth, injury, and menopause can all contribute to a decrease in your sex drive.
When your self-esteem is affected by physical changes to your body, you may feel unattractive or undesirable even if your partner still expresses desire.
This can cause issues with the intimacy in your relationship.
Mental Health Issues
We mentioned earlier in this guide that certain medications that are used to treat mental health issues can contribute to low sex drive.
However, untreated mental health issues can also contribute to a lack of libido in many people.
Conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, and even trauma that hasn’t been addressed or processed can lead to a loss of sex drive.
It is also important to note that some people with untreated mental health issues may experience a boost in sex drive that leads to reckless and irresponsible sex.
Pregnancy And Postpartum
Both pregnancy and postpartum can wreak havoc on the body and hormones. This can lead to a loss of sex drive that is incredibly reasonable.
Physically healing from pregnancy and childbirth isn’t always straightforward and can take significantly longer for some people than the standard 6 weeks check-up.
Even if your recovery from pregnancy and birth fits the 6-week timeline, you may be fatigued from caring for your newborn infant.
There are also conditions such as PPD which can affect your sex drive after you have had a baby.
We all know that long-term relationships take work and things can get stale if we don’t communicate clearly with our partners.
When we get comfortable in a relationship, it can be easy to fall into a routine when it comes to sex. This can lead to boredom in the bedroom.
If you are bored, you are not going to have a desire to engage in sex with your partner.
In addition to sexual boredom, if your needs aren’t being met in your relationship, you are going to feel less desire to engage in sex.
If you aren’t feeling properly turned on, you might want to skip sex altogether.
Lack Of Communication Or Conflict In Your Relationship
In order to have great sex with your partner, you need to be in tune with each other and be able to communicate well with each other.
If you are currently arguing or are struggling with communication in your relationship, this is likely to spill over into your sex life.
When you are arguing with your partner or you are unable to get on the same page, you are unlikely to be attracted to them intimately.
You probably still love them, but being able to put aside your argument or disagreement to engage in sex can be very difficult for many people.
Lack Of Sexual Chemistry
Just because you were attracted to your partner when you first started your relationship, doesn’t mean that you will maintain that level of attraction throughout your relationship.
There are going to be times when you feel more attracted to them, and there will be times when you feel less attracted to them.
When you are in a long-term relationship, your attraction to your partner will ebb and flow. However, there is another level to this cause of low sex drive.
If you and your partner are lacking in sexual skills, you might not be getting what you need from intimacy and may not feel the desire to engage in it anymore.
If you feel that you have always struggled with libido in your relationships, it is possible that you are on the asexuality spectrum, or that you are demisexual.
This is not something that is likely to be changed with improved communication or improved stress levels.
If you think that you might be asexual, you should have a conversation with your partner about the dynamics that you need from the relationship.
How Does A Low Sex Drive Affect Your Relationship?
Knowing the potential cause of a low sex drive is one thing. However, it is also important to understand how decreased libido can affect your relationship.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, sex shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your relationship.
However, it can play a large role in the dynamics of your relationship.
If you and your partner are used to regularly engaging in sexual intimacy, changes to this can have a detrimental effect on both of you.
As the person in the relationship who is suffering from a decreased libido, you may feel frustrated, embarrassed, or even ashamed at your lack of desire to be intimate with your partner.
You may even feel that there is something wrong with you if you are unable to satisfy your partner sexually.
If you find yourself constantly refusing your partner’s attempts at initiating sex, you might be concerned that you are pushing them away.
Alternatively, you might end up feeling resentful or frustrated that your partner isn’t picking up on the fact that you are struggling with your libido.
You may find that you are avoiding your partner by working more or making plans that disrupt the chance of sex happening.
This can create distance between you and your partner which can exacerbate the problem.
If you are the partner that is on the receiving end of a lowered libido, you might find yourself feeling rejected, unattractive, and unloved.
These feelings are likely to continue until a conversation is had about the changes to your sex life.
Some partners that are constantly rejected for sex, especially if they are male, may feel like they are wrong for wanting sex.
They may even be concerned that they are pressuring you into having sex on the occasions that you do engage.
These feelings on both sides can lead to more issues in the relationship.
How To Stop Low Sex Drive Ruining Your Relationship
Changes to your libido in a long-term relationship are almost inevitable from time to time. However, these changes don’t have to signal the end of your relationship.
There are many things that you can do to help stop lowered sex drive from ruining your relationship.
This might sound like something straight out of a self-help book, but it is common advice for a reason.
If you are struggling to enjoy or engage in sexual intimacy with your partner, the best thing you can do is be open and honest about it.
You might be concerned about hurting your partner’s feelings by being honest about your lack of sex drive.
However, not telling them how you are feeling could end up causing them more hurt in the long run.
Communicating face-to-face about something so personal and intimate can be frightening no matter how strong your relationship is.
You can make things a little easier by writing a letter or a journal to help express your feelings more clearly.
This can be the first step toward dealing with the cause of your lowered sex drive.
Explore Your Sexuality Properly
Sometimes, experiencing a disconnect from your body can negatively affect your libido.
If you don’t feel sexual or attractive in yourself, you are unlikely to feel attractive to your partner. This can negatively affect your relationship.
However, if you take the time to explore your sexuality properly, you are more likely to get your libido back to where it normally is.
This can involve reading about sexuality, watching documentaries about sexuality, and learning about the different things that people find arousing in general.
This can help you to explore the things that help turn you on and, more importantly, the things that turn you off.
This can help you to communicate more clearly with your partner about the things that you like and the things that you don’t like.
This can help to boost your sex drive again.
Handle Your Stress Levels
Stress can have a huge impact on your libido.
If you are experiencing increased levels of stress in your professional or personal life, you can help to improve the issue by taking steps to reduce your stress levels.
There are plenty of simple ways that you can handle your stress.
The first step should be to try and reduce your stress by taking a step back from work or solving personal issues. However, this isn’t always possible.
Instead, you can take steps to reduce the stress that you hold in your body. Things such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises.
These can help to release stress and tension from your body which can help you feel more relaxed in your body and be more receptive to sexual intimacy.
Take A Step Back From Sex
Once you have noticed that your lower sex drive has begun causing issues in your relationship, it can be incredibly easy to get into your head about the lack of sexual intimacy in your relationship and your role in it.
If you find yourself constantly worrying about the lack of sex in your relationship, it can be worth taking a step back from sex entirely.
This is something that should be discussed with your partner. However, taking sex off the table can help to reduce the pressure that you may be feeling to fix your libido.
Engage In Non-Sexual Intimacy
Even if you are not able to enjoy the act of sex, it doesn’t mean that you have to avoid all kinds of intimacy in your relationship.
In fact, there are many other types of intimacy that can be overlooked in relationships that involve sex.
Simple things such as holding hands, cuddling on the sofa, kissing, and massage can all help to keep the magic alive in your relationship when sex is off the table.
In fact, this is something that works especially well when you have discussed taking sex off the table for a while.
This way, there is no pressure for the non-sexual intimacy to lead to something more.
Learn To Prioritize Intimacy
One of the biggest killers of long-term relationships isn’t a lack of sex, but a lack of intimacy.
It can be easy to forget that there are many ways to be intimate with your partner than just having sex.
As we mentioned above, things such as holding hands or cuddling when you are watching a movie are all intimate acts.
If you have a busy life, it can be easy to overlook these important aspects of your relationship.
Therefore, scheduling intimacy can help to prioritize this time with your partner.
Although making a schedule for movie nights and cuddling might not seem the most romantic, it can help you remember just how important intimacy is to your relationship.
Reconnect With Your Body
As we have mentioned, the relationship that you have with your body can have a significant and direct impact on your sex drive.
If you are struggling with your self-esteem, it might seem like an uphill challenge to get back to a place where you find yourself attractive.
However, there are some fun things that you can do to help you to reconnect with your body. Fitness and exercise are great ways to boost your self-esteem.
Things such as CrossFit and Pilates are great. However, dance is one of the best ways to enjoy your body and get back to your inner sexual being.
There are specific dance classes that focus on helping you to feel sexy again.
Engage In Self-Pleasure
An important thing to remember is that your sexual pleasure is just as important as the pleasure that your libido brings to your partner.
If you are struggling with your libido because you are bored with the sexual side of your relationship, engaging in self-pleasure is the perfect way to learn what really works for you.
Once you know how to best pleasure yourself, you can communicate that to your partner much better and get what you want and need out of your sexual relationship.
Get In Touch With Your Creative Side
There is a reason why artists and creatives are often seen as attractive, sexual beings. According to Tantra, sexual energy is strongly linked to your creative energy.
When you indulge your creative side, you are likely to feel much more connected to your sexual side.
Whether you enjoy painting, dancing, writing, or music, it can help to reignite your passionate side.
The best thing is, you don’t have to be good at your creative passion for it to help you get back in touch with your sexual side.
Seek Professional Help
If you have tried things to help ease your low libido and get back to your regular sex life but they haven’t worked, you might want to consider seeking professional help.
There are many different types of professional help that you can get for a low sex drive.
If you want to focus entirely on your libido and sex life, you can reach out to a sex coach.
They can help you to overcome issues in your sex life and focus on pleasure and education. This is often a holistic approach to healing your sexuality.
However, if you are concerned about a medical cause of your lack of libido, you can visit your primary care practitioner to eliminate or treat medical causes.
This can be a good first port of call to help rule out anything more serious than heightened stress levels or a sexual disconnect between you and your partner.
Another alternative professional option is seeking therapy.
If your lack of libido is related to mental health issues or trauma this can be a great way to deal with the underlying issue.
If you think that your issues stem from a disconnect between you and your partner or you have communication issues, having couples therapy can help to solve any issues and rebalance your libido.
There are so many causes for low libido, especially for women or people who are AFAB.
Some of the causes are temporary and easily fixed, whereas, others may be more serious or take longer to heal.
The most important thing you should do if you are struggling with mismatched egos with your partner is to be open and honest with them to make sure that it doesn’t have an irreparable impact on your relationship.