Updated: Aug 17
Not feeling “in the mood”? You’re not the only one. So many women feel confused, frustrated, guilt-ridden, annoyed, or discouraged- because they just can’t seem to get themselves “in the mood”. Some women are frustrated because they used to feel the magic, and now it’s all but gone, while others have always wondered what all the hype is about. Here is a brief and simplified summary of some of the most common reasons we find for this phenomenon:
Circumstantial: Women tend to be “experientially integrated”. This means that women often live holistically, and bring their feelings from one frame to the next. Kids, work, family, friends, social obligations, communal commitments, personal stuff- for most of us, our brains are pretty cluttered. When a woman is preoccupied with responsibilities or circumstances, stressed, overwhelmed or very focused on something else, she may bring these thoughts into the bedroom with her, and have a hard time relaxing her mind and body enough to connect sexually. Finding ways to consciously decompress, talk it out, check your baggage at the bedroom door, meditate, or unwind, may help.
Physical, Physiological, or Hormonal: Whether you have a headache, cramps, a bad back, or the flu, if you’re in physical pain or discomfort, it can be hard to relax and find pleasure, or even motivate yourself to try. This is particularly true if the pain is in the sexual areas of the body, such as an STD, urinary tract infection, endometriosis or vulvadynia, or if you suffer from a more serious condition or illness. Hormonal changes and imbalances can also affect the sex drive. So can some common medications like birth control pills, antidepressants, and allergy meds. Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause are other potential culprits. Please consult with your doctor if you have any sort of chronic or intense physical pain, or if you suspect medical, systemic, or hormonal causes. There are often alternative choices, therapies, supplements, or replacements that can make a meaningful difference. [Generally keeping your body in good shape through exercise and nourishing food will benefit you in the bedroom too.]
Historical: Is sexual activity psychologically loaded for you? Were you ever unwantedly touched, sexually or otherwise? Did you ever share your body with someone only to be betrayed, abandoned, or have your heart broken? Were you taught as a child that sex is bad or dirty? Did you see behaviors in your parents’ marriage as a child that disturbed you? Were you deprived of or bombarded with affection? If you have negative associations with touch or intimacy, your heart may be using your body as a boundary, to clue you in on some history that needs to be addressed. ASAP.
Emotional: Sexual pleasure is a type of joy. When we feel down, scared, depressed, worried, annoyed, or angry, it may be challenging to get in the mood for connection. Check in with your feelings to see what your general mood is like, then try your regular mood lifting activities. If you struggle with excessive or unmanageable negative emotions, it might help to speak with a therapist. If you or your partner has any psychological concerns, such as a trauma, addiction, or mood disorder, this will often come into play too, so ditto there, on professional help.
Interpersonal: Are you having a rough time in the relationship? Are you holding back on issues that are bothering you, or bickering a lot? Feeling overly criticized or critical? Resentful or resented? Neglected or guilty? Relationship problems- visible or beneath the surface, will easily kill the passion. Invest some time trying to really communicate, and heal from conflict, and schedule date nights and loving activities to keep the romance alive. Again, if conflict is an ongoing problem that you can’t seem to solve together, counseling can help.
Technical: Are you sure you’ve been doing things correctly? Do you know how to foreplay, fantasize, and what arouses you? If you find you’ve never been in the mood, it’s possible you could do with some more information about how to warm yourself up, what turns you on, and suggestions of what does the trick for many other women out there. Self-help books, videos, and sex educators abound for your enlightenment.
Attraction: Sometimes you may just not be feeling attracted or attractive. If something about your partner is turning you off in some way, or just not turning you on, and you become aware of it, there are lots of ways to recapture the magic. Likewise, if you’re not feeling attractive yourself- physically or otherwise, you may feel self-conscious or uptight. Turn the spotlight on what’s beautiful about you both- accentuate the positive- in mind and body, use all your senses to trigger that dopamine in your brain.
Most healthy adults are capable of getting in the mood and experiencing sexual pleasure with someone special to them, even if it requires a little outside intervention. Sexual problems – big and small, are far more common than most people realize; they have their own category of real diagnoses, with fancy names like dyspareunia and anorgasmia, and there are effective treatments out there. Whether the obstacle is physiological or technical, relationship based or emotional, or a combination thereof, there is a smorgasbord of ways to (re)ignite your libido. So don’t despair; search your body, mind, and soul for the cause, then get to work. Whatever you do, don’t brush the problem under the rug; it’s too important and will end up causing more problems. Whether you talk it out, read up, or go for help, you and your loved one will definitely be glad you did!