a woman in my 20s, and I’ve been dating the love of my life
for two years now. We are incredibly happy except for—guess!—we
have different sex drives. When we first started dating, I
initiated sex all the time and enjoyed it, but as soon as
I started on birth control, my libido evaporated. After a
nightmarish year of trying different methods, arguing with
doctors, and hurt feelings, I decided that it wasn’t worth
it, and we’ve stopped using any hormonal birth control (we’re
But months later, I still have almost no interest in sex or
masturbation. We have sex once or twice a week, but it’s physically
boring. I put on my game face and endure it. I enjoy pleasing
him, but it does nothing for me. It hurts him that I am not
interested in sex and that he can’t arouse or please me. I
want us to have a healthy sex life, because I love him and
he’s worth it. Could this still be the birth control? Did
I somehow flip the off switch?
Please help, Dan. My doctors are all sex-negative and don’t
see the problem, and I want to enjoy sex again.
Horny, Not Happy
problem doesn’t sound like a case of differing sex drives,
NHNH, but like a healthy sex drive that’s been derailed.
control pills can decrease sexual desire if they substantially
lower testosterone levels,” says Cindy M. Meston, PhD, professor
of clinical psychology at University of Texas at Austin and
author of Why Women Have Sex. “The pill supplies a
steady dose of hormones, so that the body stops producing
its own unsteady, cyclical dose.” The pill keeps your estrogen
level high in order to prevent ovulation, while also “increasing
the sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which binds to testosterone,
thus blocking it from being ‘read’ by the body.”
Testosterone plays a huge role in female libido, and blocking
testosterone doesn’t do your libido any favors. And while
most women who experience a severe drop in libido on the pill
bounce back a few months after they stop taking it, some women
aren’t so lucky.
well-regarded researcher, Irwin Goldstein, found that after
stopping the pill, SHBG remained high in some women and testosterone
levels didn’t go back up,” says Meston. “It’s not common,
but it could explain this woman’s situation. The best thing
for her would be to go to a gynecologist, urologist, or endocrinologist
who specializes in sexual medicine (make sure they actually
know what the hell they’re measuring) and have all her reproductive
hormones measured. If she’s low in testosterone, she can take
That means you’ll have to fire your current sex-negative doctors,
NHNH, and find yourself some new, sex-positive ones—and you’ll
have to stick with them.
needs a good doctor to monitor her closely, as too much testosterone
causes bad side effects in women—side effects like facial
I also shared your e-mail with Debby Herbenick, PhD, sexual-health
educator at the Kinsey Institute and author of Because
It Feels Good, and she feels there’s a chance your problem
working with people, what I more often have found—and wrote
about in my book—is something I call a ‘cycle of dread.’ I
know that sounds ‘magazine-y’ but it’s the best way I can
think of to describe it, and this woman seems to epitomize
A cycle of dread—let’s call it COD—can kick in when someone
keeps having sex she doesn’t want to have, or isn’t enjoying,
because she feels she must.
it works out all right—once they start going, it feels better.
But quite often, they don’t want it, they do it anyway, it
sucks (‘physically boring,’ ‘I put on my game face’), and
they do it anyway and keep doing it.”
And COD, like SHBG, can flip your libido’s off switch. So
what do you do if COD’s the issue?
should work with her partner,” says Herbenick. “Talk about
the situation, acknowledge that sometimes she doesn’t want
sex, or that type of sex.” Herbenick believes a temporary
“ban on intercourse”—or taking “vaginal off the menu,” as
I’ve recommended in similar circumstances—“can help couples
learn to touch each other again with pleasure.”
I think you should take the advice of both of our guest experts:
Initiate a ban on intercourse for now, NHNH, because you’re
not doing you, your libido, or your boyfriend any favors when
you put on that game face and go through the motions, and
go get your hormone levels checked.
does a person do when an LTR starts to feel stagnant or boring
person experiments (with partner), cheats (on partner), or
breaks up (with partner).
have a dilemma. Even though I was born in 1972, people always
assume that I’m in my mid-20s. I tend to attract girls in
their early 20s, and when they ask how old I am, I counter
with “How old do you think I am?” They invariably guess an
age that I haven’t seen in more than a decade. When I tell
these 21- to 23-year-olds the truth, it’s a complete turnoff.
Just last night I had to endure—that’s endure, not Ensure—my
third brush-off at the hands of a hot 21-year-old girl in
So what’s an apparent senior citizen like myself to do? Do
I just wait hopelessly for the dreaded question to come up?
Do I blurt out “I’m old” as soon as a woman walks up to me?
Do I take measures to try to look my age?
You’re probably wondering why I don’t just go for women closer
to my own age. Here’s why: Women my own age tell me that they’re
looking for serious relationships and I look way too young
for that and they worry that my looks mean I’m a total player!
Only Using Numbers, Girls
YOUNG, maybe your problem is the lousy puns. Endure/Ensure?
That would earn you a brush-off from me.
But if older women aren’t interested because you look too
young, and younger women aren’t interested because you are
too old—if you’re actually being discriminated against based
on your age/looks—then you have a license to lie to women,
young and old.
Let younger women think you’re in your 20s until they get
to know you better. Then disclose and apologize for the deceit
without being too abject about it. You had cause. As for women
closer to your own age, well, instead of telling them you’re
very nearly 40, YOUNG, let ’em think you’re a 20-something
with a thing for older women. Then if a puma—or panther or
cougar or otter or whatever—decides to dump you because she’s
getting too attached and the (presumed) age difference is
simply too great, bust out your birth certificate, apologize,
Two years ago, an openly gay student at Hudson High School
in upstate New York ran for prom queen. He won—but school
officials “denied him the crown.” This year, two openly gay
students—best friends, both boys—at Hudson High ran for prom
king and queen and won “in a landslide.” School officials
didn’t stand in their way, and Charlie Ferrusi and Timmy Howard
got their crowns. Congrats to 2008’s rightful prom queen,
Augie Abatecola; congrats to this year’s prom queen and king;
congrats to the school officials who learned their lesson;
and congrats to all the students at Hudson High.
Find the Savage Lovecast every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.