Too Tired! Too Much to Do!

This is the first of three blog posts on the three main reasons women might decide not to have sex, a series introduced last week.

Maybe the kids have flown the coop—or maybe not. Maybe your parents need more attention. Maybe you’re still involved with your career; in fact, maybe you have a big presentation in the morning, and you need to be refreshed and on-point. Is it any wonder that sex is the last thing on your mind?

Life’s demands ebb and flow, but they never go away. And your sexual self is closely connected to all the other flotsam and jetsam of your life. However, if your stress level and the demands on your time are chronic and overwhelming, other important parts of life, such as exercise, time to yourself, and intimacy with your partner are all too likely to fall quietly by the wayside.

Chronic stress, in addition to putting a terrible strain on your overall health, also interferes with the production of hormones that fuel libido. So, even though you may love and be attracted to your partner, lack of time and energy for sexual intimacy will cause that relationship to suffer over time. And, eventually, your desire for sex will diminish, too.

If the demands on your time and energy are draining away life’s pleasures, it’s time for some tough re-evaluation. The stresses may be unavoidable, like caring for elderly parents, but there’s probably something you can do to ease the burden.

To really deal with the “too tired” state of affairs, you need to view your life holistically.  Lack of time and energy for sex is only part of the picture.

  • Take care of yourself first. Carve out some space for emotional and mental rejuvenation, even if it’s as simple as a warm bath or a night to yourself with nothing to do. But don’t expect a one-time splurge to effect lasting change. Rejuvenation takes time and it takes conscious effort. How will you regain (or discover for the first time) your peaceful inner core?
  • Take care of your health. If you don’t have time for sex, chances are you’re not paying attention to exercise or good nutrition, either. Among its many other benefits, exercise improves libido. It makes you more flexible, strengthens your joints, gets rid of aches and pains, and improves your mood. It makes you look and feel sexier. And, yes, all this takes time. Nobody said it would be easy.
  • Talk to your doctor. Is it possible that fatigue is due to an overlooked physical condition? Could your medication be the culprit? Could you be depressed?
  • And finally, pay attention to your partner. Rebuild the intimacy. Touch. Talk. Be creative. Sex doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Enjoy the journey; the destination doesn’t matter. Focus on pleasure, intimacy, and connection and the rest will likely follow. And yes, this takes time, too. Doesn’t anything truly worthwhile?
There’s no simple solution to dealing with stress and fatigue—or with their emotional and physical toll on your life. There’s only the desire and commitment to change—to prioritize the most important things, which happen to be your health and your most important relationships. Because, after all those pressing demands on your time and energy have gone away, you’ll either be spending much quieter years with a stranger you used to love or with your lover. Change is hard, but the cost of the status quo, at this stage of life, is unacceptable.

Not Tonight, Dear: Why We “Don’t Feel Like It”

We are complicated sexual creatures. For us, arousal isn’t just a matter of plumbing; rather, it’s intricately connected to how we feel about ourselves, our partners, and the rest of our lives. There is no “turn-on” pill; there is no magic potion. And while it’s true that the way we experience arousal and sexual pleasure evolves and changes as we age, there’s every reason to expect that our sexual experience can be even more relaxed, adventurous, and fun—just like the rest of our lives—if we pay attention to our overall mental and physical health. Because for us, the kneebone’s connected to the thighbone—everything’s connected.

This concept was brought home to me once again at a presentation I heard at the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) by researcher Mara Meana, Ph.D. from the University of Nevada. Dr. Meana examined the reasons women might decide not to have sex, even if they were aroused and feeling sexual desire.

Of course, those reasons differ depending on the woman’s life stage and personal situation, but what struck me was that the three main reasons that married women gave for avoiding sex were:

  • Fatigue and the need to conserve energy
  • Boring sex
  • Negative body image

Sound familiar?

So, you may like having sex; you may be feeling aroused; you may be attracted to your partner, but you still avoid the time, energy, and emotional vulnerability of intercourse because of one or more of those three “disincentives.”

I think this merits a closer look because boredom, fatigue, and a negative body image are powerful ways to stifle that spontaneous, buoyant spirit we’ve so richly earned at this stage of life. In the next few posts, I’d like to examine these disincentives in greater detail and suggest some ways to overcome them.