to sexual drive. Over the course of the human life span, libido can
increase or decrease depending upon numerous factors. Those factors
can be divided into biological, psychological and social.
biological factors, a woman’s menstrual cycle is known to alter
libido with increases occurring consistent with ovulation and
decreases at or about menstruation. Similarly as hormone levels
change and alter during pregnancy, some women may experience a
decrease in libido, whereas others may actually experience an
increase. Menopause again brings a change of hormone levels to which
some women respond with lower libido while others with higher
libido. From a biological perspective, men tend to have a steadier
libido, although some, particularly during middle age, may have a
decrease in testosterone leading to a lower libido. Erectile
dysfunction may occur and be the result of numerous medical
conditions. Certain substances can affect the libido of men and
women equally. Medications, use of non-prescription drugs and
alcohol use can all negatively affect libido as can illnesses.
factors affecting libido occur equally for men and women. These
include how one view’s oneself and body as well as factors such as
stress, conflict or fatigue. Anxiety over meeting a partners sexual
needs can also affect libido as can other factors affecting the
affecting libido include religious beliefs, ideas related to
sexuality and aging, as well as other social norms.
In view of so
many factors that can affect libido, it is common that a couple’s
mutual libido can be at different levels. Hence one person may feel
particularly aroused or desirous of sexual pleasure or intimacy,
whereas the other person may be disinterested and even to the degree
of repulsion. Such differences in libido between partners can be a
source of serious conflict. The challenge in a relationship is to
meet both persons’ needs as much as possible without imposing,
undermining or causing bad feelings in either person. It is
sometimes the case that when one is faced with a decreased libido in
their partner, this is taken as a reflection of the relationship.
While in some cases this is true, in other cases, this is not true.
In the event
couples are faced with a conflict of libidos, they are urged to talk
about their differences as a starting point. It may be that one
partner is unaware of the needs and differences between them. For
some folks a discussion can bring about necessary changes to thus
help both persons meet their needs. If a discussion is not
sufficient to address the differences and find a resolution, it may
be that a meeting with a physician is necessary to determine the
nature of the differences and the kind of change or intervention to
revolve the conflict. Interventions may be medicinal or hormonal or
may require lifestyle or habit changes. Interventions may also
include counselling, particularly if the underlying problem is
considered to be psychological or owing to the relationship.
Further, discussion with a counsellor can provide tips or education
to better meet one’s own needs or that of the partner’s.
conflict of libido does not have to be a deal breaker for the
relationship, nor do people have to suffer in silence or look to
would-be solutions that could actually bring more harm than good.
Discussion with your partner, medical investigation and/or
counselling can lead to greater satisfaction in this area of life.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
About The Author: Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts
in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert on child development,
parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and
access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of
giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report. Call him
for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters.
Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment
critiques and workshops.