We all go through those phases when we're just not in the mood. We're tired, we're stressed, and sex is the last thing on our minds. But instead of shooing our partners away, sometimes you just gotta take one for the team to maintain intimacy in your relationship, because the more you promise "tomorrow," the more distance can begin to separate you both. Before that point when the thought of sex with your partner starts to seem foreign, though, there are several things you can do to turn yourself on.
Dr. Leah Millheiser, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of OB/GYN and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University, calls this "before-play." It's like a solo pregame leading up to the sexual act with your significant other.
It's like a solo pregame leading up to the sexual act with your significant other.
"So take a woman who's breastfeeding and she's got very low interest in sex because that's actually what breastfeeding does; it suppresses your natural hormone, estrogen, and testosterone," Dr. Millheiser told us. "Add onto that the fact that they're breastfeeding, they're exhausted, they're sleep deprived. All of those things all contribute for low sexual interest."
Women naturally experience low sex drive at various stages in their lives. According to Dr. Millheiser, birth control pills, being premenopausal, certain medications (especially antidepressants), life stressors, and other factors can all contribute to one's decreased libido.
She often counsels women by first telling them that it's a temporary experience that will revert back to normal. "But for now, because of the importance that intimacy plays in the health of the relationship, you have an incentive. That incentive is 'I want to be close to my partner.'"
There are a number of ways of motivating yourself to either initiate or be receptive to sex, including masturbation, reading an erotic novel, watching porn, etc. "It's asking yourself 'What can I do to get myself excited for this, because right now, my body is telling me that I don't want to do this,'" she said. "'But I know the importance of sexual intimacy.'"
Also keep in mind that you shouldn't feel pressured to have sex if it's something you truly don't desire. Your partner should be understanding of that and be open to other ways of sharing closeness during this period, even if it's simply cuddling on the couch. However, if you're up for it and just in need of a little boost, consider before-play as Dr. Millheiser suggests.
Before-play isn't only limited to those experiencing low sex drive, either. It could also be a hot way to turn things up even further. Readying yourself for the main act before seeing your partner, for example, could have explosive results. However you decide to play with it (or yourself), this pregame is one you might not want to skip.