Archive for October, 2014

Effective Self-Help for Women With Low or No Sexual Desire

October 27, 2014

This post originally appeared on Psychology Today on October 15, 2014 by Michael Castleman, M.A. A follow-up blog post to our Summer Sex series. 

Drugs and supplements don’t boost women’s libidos, but a book offers real help.

If you’re a woman troubled by little or no erotic desire, a recent study shows that a self-help book by a woman sex therapist provides a significant libido boost.

The book is A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex (2009) by Laurie B. Mintz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Florida. Compared with controls who did not read it, women who did experienced significant increases in desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction. 

“The Most Common Sexual Complaint”

How many women feel little or no sexual desire at some point in their lives? About one-third. Landmark studies by University of Chicago researchers (1999 and 2008) have estimated prevalence by age:

18-29: 32%

30-39: 32%

40-49: 30%

50-59: 27%

60-74: 38%

75+: 49%

A leading women’s sexuality researcher, Rosemary Basson, Ph.D., director of the University of British Columbia’s Sexual Medicine Program, says, “Low or absent sexual desire is without a doubt the most common sexual complaint of women of all ages.”

It’s also one of the more difficult to treat. Sex therapists enjoy a high rate of success treating many sexual issues—notably men’s ejaculatory control problems, women’s inability to have orgasms, and desire differences in couples—but they’ve been less successful helping women with low or no libido rediscover desire.

After Viagra was approved, the drug industry worked overtime to develop drugs to treat low desire in women—and so far they’ve have struck out. Turns out desire is quite complicated and not something pills can resolve.

Part of the issue involves women’s socialization. Society accepts men’s lust as “vigorous” and “studly,” but disparages lusty women as “tramps” and “sluts.” In addition, women are raised to focus not on their own desire, but on appearing desirable to men.

Another piece of the issue has to do with gender differences in sex drive. While an estimated one-third of women have more erotic interest than the men they’re involved with, in two-thirds of couples, men’s libidos surpass women’s—and women hounded by horny men for sex have little opportunity to experience their own desire.

Meanwhile, a good deal of research shows that women with desire issues tend to feel exhausted by their daily responsibilities—their marriages,parenting, families, and jobs—and have difficulty creating space in their hectic routines for sexual desire.

In 2008, Basson and colleagues conducted a pilot study with 26 women complaining of low or no desire. They used a group-therapy approach that included education about desire and mindfulness meditative techniques to help women take emotional time-outs from their day-to-day responsibilities to focus on their own desire. The program helped. Pre- and post-tests showed significant increases in participants’ desire and arousal. Mintz’s self-help book uses a similar approach.

Six-Step Program

For the study, the researchers (Mintz among them) worked with 45 women who had sought help for low libido. They completed a survey that assessed their sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasms, sexual pain, and overall erotic satisfaction. Nineteen were instructed to read the book. The others did not. All the women were heterosexual, married (4.5 to 29 years), with household incomes ranging from low to high, and education ranging from high school to graduate degrees.

The book focuses on six subjects:

Thoughts. Women with low desire often slip into negativity: I feel overwhelmed and that’s not attractive. I don’t feel anything sexual therefore I can’t. The book provides cognitive therapy techniques that promote positive feelings about self and sexuality, and mindfulness meditative techniques to promote deep relaxation.

Talk. Low desire often provokes relationship conflict. Partners ask, What’s wrong with you?! The book advocates standard psychotherapy suggestions for constructive couple discussion of both day-to-day hassles and the couple’s sex life.

Time. Women with low desire typically complain of feeling harried. The book presents strategies for improved time management—setting goals, prioritizing them, and making the time to accomplish them.

Touch. Many men get their sex education from pornography, which focuses almost entirely on genital touch. Of course, sex involves the genitals, but to experience desire and arousal, most women need a good deal of whole-body sensual caressing—30 minutes or so— before men reach for their breasts or between their legs. The book strongly advocates whole-body massage as a fundamental element in lovemaking.

Spice. When sex becomes routine, desire suffers. The book provides suggestions for adding novelty and variety to erotic play to keep it fresh and exciting.

Tryst. Many people believe that sex happens—and should happen— spontaneously when lovers are “in the mood.” That may be true initially during the hot-and-heavy stage of relationships, but after a year or so, for couples to remain regularly sexual, sex therapists universally recommend scheduling sex in advance. The book advocates scheduling, which allows women to anticipate sex and look forward to it.

Six weeks after completing the initial survey, all participants were surveyed again.

Those who read the book reported significant increases in desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction.

Don’t Pin Your Hopes on Drugs or Supplements

For many (most?) women, desire is a mind-body phenomenon. This is especially true for women with low or no libido. Drugs and the sex supplements found in the vitamin aisle don’t address the full spectrum of issues that govern desire, which is why there isn’t—and probably never will be—a magic pill that lights women’s erotic fire. But a more comprehensive approach, a class or self-help book that deals with desire in the context of women’s lives, can put women back in touch with their erotic yearnings.

If you’re a woman with low libido or none at all, check out A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex and/or another book that’s similar, Wanting Sex Again by sex therapist Laurie J. Watson (2012).

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Think About It!  

October 21, 2014

60-quotes-change-thinking

Our next blog post in our series which focuses on Intentional Living is about the power of positive intention. What is positive intention? To me, it is about consciously thinking about my LIFE before it just happens. This is novel for me because I tend to be one of those people who go with the flow of life and deal with whatever happens later! This is not such a good thing to do all the time because it causes me to react instead of be proactive! Living in the moment is important in some ways but can get me into trouble if I am not able to deal with the reality of the moment and lots of times I don’t deal with it well!

So what do I mean when I say I want to live more intentionally? For me it’s starts with asking practical questions to myself that I can answer. Here are things I have been asking…

  • How do I want my partner to experience me today (e.g. as loving and open or crabby and irritable)?
  • Am I being bossy and need to be right about something that is actually not all that important?
  • Am I defending myself and do I really need to?
  • What questions do you have of yourself (feel free to use or adapt mine ) to live a more intentional relationship life?
  • How can we all set our day with an intention to live from our high place as opposed to however we feel in any given moment.
  • How can we control our reactions and influence our presence in our partner’s world?

These are important considerations if we want to have a good relationship day!

How many of us actually positively visualize (that’s key) these things? To positively visualize is to actually close your eyes and see in your mind and think in your brain how you want to be in your relationship and life BEFORE you react.

I have been working on this the past few weeks since I attended an inspiring workshop led by Dr Adam McLeod (a.k.a Dreamhealer) the world renowned healer. He taught us about the power within ourselves to create our own experiences based on our positive intention. Since then, I have been visualizing and meditating about many things including how I want to be in my relationship and I must say the results are phenomenal. I have noticed I am less anxious, more positive, happier and more patient. Before I go to sleep each night, I think about how I want to be the next day, I do this, very specifically. This mindful practice has led me to respond in much better ways to my partner and even feel more grateful for things I usually take for granted. Mostly I feel calmer (that’s a good thing!) and more AWAKE! I also look forward to the time before I fall asleep where I focus on positive intention and then relax my body and fall asleep. I am experiencing more control in my life, instead of living in the moment I am starting to feel like I am creating the moment. Very cool!

I recently read, From Your True Home by the Vietnamese Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Here is a nice excerpt from that is fitting for positive intention – “#230-For the Person You Love”

Have you offered your presence to the person you love? Are you so busy that you cannot be there for that person? If you are a father, mother, partner, generate your own presence, because that is the most precious gift you can offer.

Dare ya – For the next two weeks, before you go to sleep, visualize your perfect relationship day, only focusing on how YOU want to be. Notice what happens and let us know!

Intentionally yours,
T.A.

Thanksgiving 2014

October 9, 2014

bc-fall

Well my friends, Happy Fall! We hope you enjoyed our Sizzling Summer Sex Series. If you didn’t get a chance to see all our posts and articles make sure you find us on Facebook so you can get caught up on all the juicy details and tips we kept sending out all summer long. But alas, summer has to come to an end (sad face) and we must accept the changing of the seasons and with it, a new focus on our relationships.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we think it is time to give thanks and look inward as we launch our next series: Living An Intentional Relationship.

Autumn is the time to cozy up, take stock, make soup, stay warm and think deeply about what we want in our relationships and  how we  are going to get there. What better way, than to focus our series on Gratitude, Positivity, Giving and Receiving Love and Living our Values. This series will endeavour to help us examine, challenge and learn what it means to take responsibility for our part in our relationship. Let’s keep looking at our 100% of the 50% of our love partnerships that we co-create.

When we think of giving thanks, we usually think of giving appreciation either to others, or for the abundance we have in our own lives. This is vitally important and we must continue doing this. For now, however, I propose doing something different and actually give thanks to ourselves. Why not appreciate ourselves for the times we have been our best selves in our relationships since last Thanksgiving?

While it may feel uncomfortable, I think we should allow ourselves to experience some self-appreciation. Instead of waiting for appreciation from our partner (which we all know can either go very well or not!)…why not think about our own relationship contributions and be grateful for those?

Here’s a question- What have YOU done for your relationship over the last 12 months?

When have you let something go?

When have you contained your irritation?

When have you surprised your partner?

When have you been accommodating or patient when you didn’t feel like it? When did you hold your tongue?

When did you take the high road even if it wasn’t fair?

When did you say something positive even when you wanted to criticize?

If you can think of even a couple of experiences I think you should thank yourself because when you are able to do this, you are the one who actually benefits from it. How you might ask? Simply put, it’s because you are being the best of who you are.

We rarely acknowledge ourselves for our hard work but instead wait for our partner to notice and tell us so. Of course that is important and feels great but the real gift is when we know we are being who we want to be. We are changing old behaviour to new behaviour and I believe we must acknowledge that within ourselves so we will continue to stretch beyond what’s comfortable.

Giving thanks and appreciation for yourself to yourself will help you to feel happier and more hopeful. Don’t be fooled that this is somehow arrogant or grandiose if it feels  wrong to do.

Real self-appreciation is not selfish, it is not loud.  It is being able to accept quietly that we are trying our best. It is genuine and modest, internal and self -reflective. It does not need announcing and bragging , but it does challenge us to celebrate the love and hard work we have all put into our relationships without asking for recognition, or to be paid back or to be validated by anyone other than ourselves.

On this Thanksgiving, see if you can feel more capacity to love yourself for who you are and want to keep becoming.

Dare y’a

You know the drill….Why not go to a favourite place, wherever it is and write down what you can honour in yourself about what you have done this year as a love partner. Notice how your body feels when you do this.

Yours truly,
T.A.