File that under words I never hear anymore. When I was a teenager, I remember adults speaking at school about sex all the time. My parents talked to me about it. It continued to be a hot topic of discussion into my college years and during pre-marital counseling. Now I have 13 years of marriage under my belt, and I’m still waiting for someone to step in with any wisdom or guidance about sex after children.
I don’t talk about sex with my other married/mom friends. While that seems to be the norm for female friendships as portrayed by Netflix, that has never been the norm in my life. None of my friends want to dish on what happens after the lights go out. They might occasionally make vague jokes or allusions to it, but no one is getting specific.
I need some specificity. So naturally, I turned to the internet for help with my problems.
Here it is, in a nutshell: I’m 34-years-old, and I am not really interested in sex anymore. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. I could honestly take it or leave it. Maybe that’s because I’m a mother of two littles, a wife who keeps the house running, and a full-time teacher — leaving me feeling exhausted and over-extended most of the time. Maybe it’s a sense of guilt and shame leftover from my youth growing up in the Christian church, where purity rings and celibacy promises and “kissing dating goodbye” were constantly pushed into the spotlight. Now that I actually *need* to get in touch with my sexual side, I can’t seem to find it. Maybe it’s because sex is messy and feels inconvenient, hastily tucked into small windows of opportunity in an otherwise hectic schedule. Maybe it’s a lot of work with very little payoff, as having an actual orgasm has lately become the exception rather than the norm.
But what can I do? I have to try to fix the problem. It’s not like my husband hasn’t noticed my apathy. My ambivalence towards sex has definitely become a source of contention in our marriage that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Step ONE: I decided to consult with my OBGYN. Surely she would have some sort of quick fix or miracle drug, right? I was super awkward even bringing up the topic of conversation. I waited until the very last part of the visit, as she was saying goodbye and about to exit the examination room, to finally mumble that I was “having trouble in the bedroom.” Thankfully, she caught my meaning right away and didn’t ask me a bunch of embarrassing, probing questions. She told me that as far as “female viagra” is concerned, I had two options:
One option was a temporary stimulant that needed to be taken one hour before sex. It actually came in the form of a syringe, which I would need to inject into my own thigh (which I’ll admit, kind of freaked me out). The remaining effects could last anywhere from 2-12 hours.
The other option was a pill that I would take daily, regardless of sexual activity. It was actually an anti-depressant, and my doctor seemed more hesitant to prescribe this drug than the first option. I’ve tried to research why an anti-depressant would help a woman to feel “in the mood,” but the scientific trials that have been conducted are inconclusive on that point. Doctors don’t exactly know why it works; they just know that it has been proven to increase sex drive significantly for women who previously suffered from low desire.
These two drugs are the only prescriptions currently on the market in the US to help women suffering from HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), an issue that I didn’t even realize was an actual medical diagnosis. It’s not quite as simple to treat as male impotence. When a man is suffering from erectile dysfunction, his desire is there, but he needs help with the actual biological response. When a woman suffers from HSDD, the desire isn’t there and a more psychological intervention is needed, making the solution much more complex. I found it interesting that each prescription website warns women that these drugs don’t work like love potions; a prescription can’t fix your broken relationship or help you to fall back in love with someone if the magic isn’t there. They only promise to activate the neurotransmitters in your brain that will enhance your sexual experience (and hopefully not leave you nauseous or suffering from a migraine, which are common side effects).
Because my doctor was discouraging about option number two, I decided to try option one, the injection. It honestly took me a while to muster enough courage to inject myself with a syringe, but it was actually pretty painless. I couldn’t even feel the needle (I almost wondered if I missed at first because I felt nothing). But then I did get a bit of soreness at the injection site just like I would after a flu shot. I’m sure everyone’s individual reactions to this medication may be different, but I felt…energized. My heart started racing and I felt a bit jittery, like I had restless legs. As I waited an hour for the drug to fully kick in, I read articles online about different positions and creative techniques that we could try, so I felt fully ready when it was time for us to have sex. But I can’t say if I felt ready because I had that extra time to mentally prepare myself and focus on what was about to happen or whether it was the actual injection. While all of my physical senses (especially sense of touch) felt extra heightened during sex, I would have to try it again to say for sure that there wasn’t some sort of placebo effect. So far I haven’t tried it again because of the uncomfortable jittery feeling (which for me, made it difficult to sleep that night and lasted until around noon the next day).
As for the second step that I took toward addressing my problem (which I can now confidently label as HSDD), I decided to search for a licensed sex therapist. While taking a prescription is a quick band-aid solution, I felt confident that consulting with a therapist would really help me dig down to the heart of the problem and perhaps fix it in a more permanent way.