I picked up a 1950’s book at an estate sale a few weeks ago. Entitled A Doctor’s Marital Guide for Patients
, it was the book given to women about to be married in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The Table of Contents included chapters on The Facts of Life, Sex, Love and Reproduction, and Principles and Techniques of Intercourse. It also had a large section on “What is Natural Sexually”, and “Obstacles to Sexual Satisfaction”. I found it strange that they had a whole block on what our fallopian tubes look like. In all my years working in sexual health, no woman has ever asked me to describe her fallopian tubes. I doubt that has changed much since the 50’s.
I usually find these kinds of historical sex books interesting in a pioneering sort of way. But this one widely circulated by Canadian physicians simply made me sad. It taught a whole generation of women that not wanting to have sex made them frigid. And that their orgasms weren’t really that important. I hate the word frigid. To me it’s a word that says that it must be our fault if we don’t want sex. That we as women, are flawed in some way for having no sexual desire. The book defined frigidity as “a condition common to women in which there is a lack of responsiveness and inability to enjoy the sex act, and for some women, even to the point of suffering pain and revulsion.” The truth is that according to Oprah 31% of the North American population of women has lost interest in sex to some extent. That doesn’t make us frigid. My gynecologist says that women who don’t want to have sex are either uninspired, unfulfilled or have unbalanced hormones. I believe that sometimes it’s all three, physical, emotional/psychological, and lack of relationship intimacy. But somehow again it seems to need a label and assigned fault. I spend much of my day as a sex therapist helping women re-claim their authentic sexual selves. When women understand their sexuality and what turns them on its amazing how quickly their sexual desires come through.
I’ve come to believe that much of the reason we’ve lost that loving feeling has to do with stress. If sex is the second most powerful drive after food, then where has that drive gone? Evolutionary biology explains that if we stress out female mammals then they stop going into heat. Too many deer in Algonquin Park and there are fewer fawns. For women it’s the same thing. If our cortisol is elevated, our sex drive is in the basement. Think about how much better sex is when you are on holiday. With no commitments, no distractions and a clean, uncluttered hotel room you can often can kick-start a lagging libido. But besides a monthly holiday lounging on a beach with a cocktail, what can you do to find your sexual Zen?
I suggest five things to start. First get to bed earlier, and eliminate any ambient light in your bedroom. Our stress hormones decrease when we power down for at least 8 hours in total darkness. Secondly, seriously increase the amount of fish oils and Vitamin D you take. I recommend 5,000 mg of fish oils, and 3,000 mg of Vitamin D daily. But make your own decision about what works for you. Third, pick up a cortisol and adrenal supplement. I love the Signature Brand Supplements out of Nova Scotia but any high-end supplement will help significantly. Fourth, increase the amount of coconut oil you take. I have a teaspoon everyday at 3 p.m. mixed with cocoa and dried cranberries. Coconut oil, (along with decreasing the bad carbs and inflammatory foods), lowers our inflammation levels and helps manage those long term stress hormones. Finally schedule a weekly block of time to simply hang out with your sweetie. Make sure it includes touch of some kind and time to simply connect. The only rule is that you don’t talk about kids, work, or problems. Just be together and talk about current events, reminisce about old memories and work on feeling close. For women, talking to our partners increases our oxytocin levels and makes us feel better. And closeness for women leads us to thinking about getting horizontal.
So instead of frigidity and thinking you are broken, understand that you are a highly stressed, female mammal. We need to write the new book on sexual self-care that keeps us healthy and sexy.