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sexual desire in relationships
Relationships | Sex + Sexuality
Sexual desire: differences in men and women

In my last post, I spoke about what it means to be sexy. Let’s dive deeper into how sexual desire differs between men and women.

What is sexual desire? You need to understand that female sexual desire is more complicated than male desire. Thinking of the female brain as a sexual organ, the brain is the center of a woman’s emotions and thoughts. A woman’s brain is the operating center for a complex network of neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine systems. In turn, a woman’s hormones are responsible for her sexual desire and response. The brain sends signals of desire that start a cascade of reactions leading to genital arousal, also called a woman’s libido or her sex drive. When a woman is young and has raging hormones, she doesn’t have to think much about sex. With age and loss of hormones a woman’s libido changes as does her desire for sex.

For men, sexual desire or libido is enhanced by visual stimuli and the pursuit of a sexual encounter. Testosterone levels in men are correlated with their libido. As men age, testosterone lowers at a slower rate than women. A slow change in testosterone means most men will have sexual desire for longer than do women facing menopause and women experiencing a bigger dip in their hormones.

When it comes to women and sex, how a woman feels about herself, her life, her partner and her relationship all factor into whether she feels like having sex. Unlike men, where thinking about sex translates to erection, arousal in some women may start during or even after lovemaking begins. Prior to love making a woman has many thoughts not only about sex but about her relationship. “Are we ready to have sex? Is he committed to me? Will he like my body? Does he think I’m sexy?”

In dating situations, women are thinking about the flow of her relationship and her future, too. “What if I get addicted to this man and then he leaves me?” While women are not as concerned with sexual performance, a woman knows that once she becomes sexually involved, things become more serious for her. While the heat of the moment and her eager male partner may convince a woman to have sex, she knows that due to the release of oxytocin during sex she must also protect her heart. For men, sex is a one part play. For women in dating, there are three acts: pre-sex worry, during-sex worry, and post-sex worry.

If you are a woman who does not feel motivated to have sex, especially at the start of a relationship, I give you the same advice I tell my depressed clients: if you wait for motivation to come, it never will. You have to take action first. Once you start doing something, the good feelings will come and the feeling of accomplishment comes after that. Another analogy I use is to think of sex like exercise. At the start, you may have to push yourself to get going. I know for me getting up in the dark to ride my bike or do yoga some days are a real challenge. Generally, once the blood gets flowing, I loosen up and feel better but other times it’s only after I’m done with exercise that I feel good. Post orgasm women generally feel better physically and emotionally. In committed relationships, women rarely regret having sex but instead regret not making sex more of a priority. In dating, post-sex worry generally happens only when the relationship is uncertain.

For both men and women, enhancing your communication about sex can increase libido. For men, think about making your woman feel more desired and tell her how sexy you find her. This will help her get out of her head and any insecurities and into the moment. If she sees you aroused and approaching her with confidence, it’s easier for her to feel her desire. For women, try not to over think what your male partner wants. Think more about yourself and tell your man what feels good to you. Men take pleasure in pleasuring you. Enjoy yourself and your man will too.

Here are 5 Tips for Enhancing Sexual Desire:

  1. Five Senses: think about how things look, smell, sound, feel, and taste. Light a candle, listen to sexy music, drink some wine.
  2. Building anticipation: send your partner a sexy little flirt to build heat in your relationship. Tell them you can’t wait to see them later.
  3. Exercise more: people who are aware of their bodies and exercise generally have higher libidos and are more physical in their love language.
  4. Stay in the moment: focus on what feels good versus worrying about the past or future.
  5. Make your romantic life a priority: people who have an orgasm once a week to have better health and sex releases stress.
SECURE note: If you want to increase sexual desire try listening and giving good feedback to your partner. Relax and share the experience.  
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