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Sexual Concerns

Low Sexual Desire

Why do women lose interest in sex?

Low sexual desire is one of the most common sexual concerns that women bring to therapy. More than a third of women report experiencing it at some point, but it affects as many as one in five men as well, though they may be less likely to discuss it. Aside from physical concerns, the most common reasons women may experience low desire is that their partner desires sex more than they do—not in itself a sign that their own level of desire is low; too little time spent getting “in the mood” for sex; a hesitance to tell partners what type of sex they like or want; and shame over feeling sexual desire.

What can people do about low sexual desire?

As with other sexual concerns, therapists suggest that the first step in addressing low sexual desire is to discuss it openly with a partner. Believing that sexual attraction varies over time, and can be strengthened with effort, is often an important step in relieving stress over the issue. Having more sex tends not to resolve the issue and may only make it worse because of the increased stress of potentially seeing sex as a chore.

Differences in Desire

How can couples cope with having different sex drives?

Couples in which partners initiate sex about an equal amount report being more satisfied in their relationships than other couples. One partner may come to resent always having to initiate sex, or the other may grow tired of always being chased when they may not desire sex. Communication about roles can go a long way toward resolving such concerns, as well as open talk about whether each partner’s personal desires are being met—often, they’ve never even been expressed.

How do healthy couples deal with discrepancy in desire?

In the absence of physical concerns, sexual desire discrepancy is often a matter of timing and energy. Discussing and understanding when each partner believes they will be most open to sex, and planning sex at those times, can go a long way toward resolving concerns over sexual frequency, as can treating sex as a distinct, special time by lighting candles or turning on music.

Sex Addiction

Can people become addicted to sex?

The concept of sexual addiction is widely debated within the field of psychology. The World Health Organization recognizes “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), covering activities including casual sex with multiple partners, frequenting prostitutes, and using phone-sex or online sex-chat services. But many experts maintain that concepts like hypersexuality are just perceived problems with regulating one’s sexual thoughts or behaviors. Without agreement on the validity of the diagnosis, there’s no clear estimate of how many adults struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, but it’s believed to be between 3 and 6 percent.

Do individuals who worry that they are sex addicts have more sex than other people?

No. A person’s belief that he or she is a addicted to sex is primarily based on their personal beliefs about their sexual habits or thoughts. Research finds that such people do not have more sex than individuals who report having no concern about their sex lives. Clinicians who diagnose compulsive sexual behavior disorder most often refer to patients’ pornography use, not their partnered sexual activity, although such individuals do not necessarily use porn more often than others, either.

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