Ask the Doctors: Sexual Laziness

I am 28 years old. I have my couple for 5 years and I have sexual laziness (I don’t know the medical name for that), and now it’s a big problem between us. How or what can I do to leave that laziness? I want to be an active sexual person. Thank you!

I love the term “sexual laziness!” And I actually believe it’s possible to be sexually lazy, like you don’t want to go to the bother of having sex. But I think the term you are trying to think of is “libido” — sexual desire — so “lack of libido,” to be precise. Like you don’t really want to have sex at all? (If you have plenty of interest in other people, just not your partner, that might be a kind of laziness¦ but even then it’s more likely to be something else.)

What causes a libido issue might be many different things; I’ll list some possible ones here, with some ideas about dealing with each one.

Lack of libido can be caused by a lot of factors, some of them physical, and some emotional. If you can, think about how long this has been going on, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or what was going on in your life and your relationship at that time. Sometimes this will help you understand the causes of the problem.

Stress, overwork, tiredness and lack of sleep, worry, and other situations like this can cause a person’s libido to drop. It may not be easy to handle sources of stress so that they go away, but if there IS anything you can do to remove problems and worries — at least long enough to have some good sexy time with your partner — please try to do it. Sometimes it helps to tell other people your worries and get help or support.

Are you a mom? Or pregnant? Hormones are a definite cause of sex problems sometimes, although not every women loses her libido when she is pregnant — sometimes it gets stronger! But if you are a young mother, it can affect your energy level (lack of sleep, etc.) and also, sometimes, women are worried about having sex when there’s a child or baby in the house. If this is true in your situation, you might need to see if you can trust somebody to care for your child while you and your partner have a date. Some forms of hormonal birth control affect your libido, also. If you are on the Pill or other hormonal birth control, ask your doctor if this might be an issue.

Poor health, too, can hurt your libido. If there is any chance you might be sick, that could be an explanation, and of course it would be important to get help for that. Depression is one of the many kinds of health problem that can affect libido, too, so I am not just talking about physical illness.

Conflicts in your relationship are a common source of libido problems. If in your relationship sometimes anger and resentment affect the way you talk to each other, if you have a lot of fights, if you don’t trust your partner, if you do not feel loved or cared for, sometimes these things will cause trouble with your sex life.

For some women (and men too), a history of sexual troubles can lead to sexual problems in the present time. This might be the case if you were ever abused in any way, or treated badly by a partner (or even a parent or other family member — abuse can affect your sex life even if it was not sexual abuse). (If this is true of you, there is a really good book to help, Healing Sex. There is a DVD, also.)

Do you have orgasms? Are you satisfied from sex? Have you ever liked sex a lot? Sometimes women who don’t get much pleasure out of sex will not desire it, and if this is the case, it will help your libido to learn more about sex so that you can enjoy it. Sometimes this means your partner also has to learn more about sex, because if you are being stimulated in the wrong ways, or your partner doesn’t understand how to arouse you, they need to learn too.

Now — what can you do about it?

Well, there are good books to read:

Laura Berman is well-known from TV; she used to be on Oprah all the time, and she and her sister had their own show. Her book is Real Sex for Real Women: Intimacy, Pleasure and Sexual Wellbeing. Debby Herbenick works at the Kinsey Institute, a very important sexuality research center. Her book is Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. And Cake is a group of women who organize fun, sexy events for women, including workshops. Their book is The Hot Woman’s Handbook. If you’d prefer a Spanish-language book about sexuality, we carry some too.

You might wish to tell your doctor about this and get a check-up, especially if none of the other reasons I mentioned rang true for you. If you think it is a relationship issue, perhaps you can get your partner to see a therapist with you, or at least work on having better communication, less anger, etc. Sometimes religious leaders, like pastors, are trained to help couples communicate better and strengthen their relationships.

There is also a really important insight I learned from a sex therapist named JoAnn Loulan, who points out that you don’t need to wait until you are really turned on to have sex; you can start a sexual experience just by being willing to do it. Now, if you are having unsatisfying sex once you get started and it’s always that way, you probably do have an issue with either your partner, or your own underlying feelings about sex. But it’s possible that once you get into the sexual moment, it will feel great.

Instead of feeling bad about your partner’s reactions to your sexual “laziness,” think about what might make it better for you, and ask for that, if you can. Learn more about getting pleasure, from those books or classes, and ask your partner to explore some new things with you.

Good luck!

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Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at

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