Hey! My name's Georgia and when I hit 24, my libido was on par with that of a soggy sandwich #sexy
(4 minute read).
As a teenager and in my early 20's, I loved that I had a "healthy" sex drive. I could get turned on easily, I enjoyed having sex with partners or people I was dating and I felt super sexy.
But when I was 24, a few stressful situations were rolled into one and as a result I totally lost my energy, appetite and libido. Without being too dramatic, it was a total bummer. The thing I was most worried and ashamed about though was my desire for sex (or lack there of).
A low sex drive or libido has lots of different medical definitions (the most common being a decreased interest in sexual activity). It can be caused by multiple factors and treated in a number of ways.
There's already plenty of info out there in books, magazines, YouTube's, podcasts and on the internet in general that cover why it's caused and what you can do medically about it, so I won't go into those nitty gritty details here.
What I do want to cover though is how you can redefine what a libido means to you, because that was one of the biggest turning points that helped me better understand myself and one of the things I felt these resources often seemed to miss.
For a long time, I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I was struggling. No one around me talked about the things I was experiencing and I didn’t see it spoken about on social media at the time — which is a whole other reason I want to be having these conversations with you.
It took me well over 3 years to feel like I was getting somewhere with my libido and to finally find the people and resources that fit me. And to be honest, it’s still a work in progress. But I wanted to save you some time and put what I've learnt into writing.
It's funny though because while going through this process I learnt less about "increasing my sex drive" like I originally thought I would and more about how my idea of a libido was way off and my definition was so dang narrow.
I thought a libido was just about how frequently and how much I wanted to be having sex. And let's be real, looking at all that original definition kind of supported that idea (aka a decreased interest in sexual activity). When I was 19, sex was all I could think about. But now? It felt a bit more like "yeh whatever".
When everything first began, I most definitely experienced what was defined traditionally as a "low libido". I was avoiding sex with my partner and avoided anything that could lead to or suggest the idea of sex. Kissing, touching, any kind of physical or emotional intimacy... I avoided doing all the things. I didn't even want to think about any of it. And so I slapped a label on it and that was that. Case closed. There was nothing I could do. Bye bye sex life.
But then I had this thought one day. "Hold up, is this actually how I feel? Or have I labelled it for so long that I've stopped noticing how I truly feel in the moment and just automatically assumed it's always the same? Do I actually feel like I have a low libido or have I identified with this label so long it's become almost a self-fulfilling prophecy?"
I started to have this inkling that if I kept throwing a label on it without really looking at it that I'd be stuck in this cycle forever (i.e., saying I had a low libido and then looking for things that would support this definition and using it as an excuse to not push past the blocks).
By this point, I figured I needed to take a moment and look at that label. What was my personal experience of a low libido? For me, it was a general feeling of "blah". Feeling disconnected, numb, out of my body, in my head and tired. It was this feeling like I wasn't full of energy. I didn't feel sexy or sensual. I just couldn't be bothered with sex anymore. But still, I was only making the association between libido and what was happening in the bedroom.
And so around the same time, I went to an event. There was this fantastic lady talking about libido (my now good friend, Vanessa) and it's like she summarised and pieced together everything in a way I hadn't understood before. She said "our libido is our zest for life". And well that hit me like a bloody tonne of bricks, I tell you what.
I looked at my life and was like omg how can I possibly feel fired up and ready for sex if day to day I feel totally zapped of energy? How can I tell my partner what I want in the bedroom if I don't even communicate with them with general things? How can I expect myself to feel connected and in my body at the drop of a hat when I spend so much time spaced out or in my head during the day?
My libido isn't just about what's happening in the bedroom but has everything to do with what's happening outside the bedroom. I'm not these individual parts working independently of each other but a whole, multilayered human.
I had previously created this huge divide between what was happening in my sex life and what was happening in every day life, when really one was just a reflection of the other. That realisation opened up so many more doors to begin to understand my relationship with my libido and how to heal it.
Now I could make choices and decisions day to day that would affect how I felt sexually. Life suddenly became foreplay.
Now when I feel that low libido feeling coming on, I take a step back and look at how I'm taking care of myself as whole. Have I washed my hair? Am I constantly wearing stale trackie pants? Have I been eating food that makes me feel good? Am I neglecting myself? Am I communicating clearly day to day? It legit doesn't even need to be anything sexual. We need to start off with the basics first and then work our way up.
As well as that, I also remind myself of how else I can choose to reframe the experience in more broad and empowering terms:
- I can feel sexy and experience pleasure without wanting to have sex
- I understand the natural ebbs and flows of my cycles
- I respect that where my body is at one day is no reflection of the next
- I know how to listen to what my body is telling me and it is safe for me to communicate that to my partner
- I have tools and resources to get out of my head and into my body
- I feel confident in knowing and feeling into what turns me on on each unique day and respecting what turns me off
- I’m aware of how my language and the way I describe things sets the tone for the future
I truly believe we have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Yes, I could have blamed my hormones or my history or a host of other things and continue to pretend like I had no say in the matter. But once I realised that what I did day to day affected how I saw myself as a sexual being, both with my partner and solo, I had power again. The ball was back in my court.
My top two tips if you experience “low libido”?
First of all, notice if you keep repeating phrases like "something is wrong, this needs fixing, I have no control or I am broken". Because you/your partner is not broken. It might be that you just haven't found the right people, tools, words or resources yet that make the most sense to you. But please start off being aware of how powerful your words are.
And second of all, how can you reassess your understanding of this word? Maybe it's time you create your own revamped definition of what a libido actually means and feels like to you, and isn't just limiting you to your desire to have sex.