Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Absent libido

19 April, 2016

Question:

My youngest is now 15 months old, still nursing, and I have a hormonal IUD that has stopped all bleeding for quite a while now. (This is great because I used to have really emotionally bad PMS.) But my libido has been absent ever since I became pregnant about 2 years ago. My husband is trying to be understanding but is getting frustrated. Over the last two years, we've had intimacy maybe once a month, and it's usually done nothing for me and my husband doesn't look very happy either. He recently said he would stop asking me if I wanted intimacy because he was tired of being rejected. Help!


Answer:

There can be a number of causes of reduction in libido post partum. These include the lack of sleep due to child care, effects of hormonal contraception, and sometimes the hormonal effects of breastfeeding. The situation of always being permitted can have its effects as well.

Since arousal and sexual pleasure are a combination of physical and psychological, there is a range of approaches available to a woman looking to enhance her experience of relations. These begin with basics, like making a point of catching up on sleep beforehand, taking the time for romance, savoring other forms of touch (also throughout the day) to allow arousal to build, and slowly exploring with your husband what types of touch you do (or don't) enjoy.  

Clitoral stimulation can enhance a woman's sexual response — and the husband is fully permitted to stimulate his wife manually.  So too can kegel exercises, contracting the pelvic floor muscles.  

Sexual distance between a couple can have a negative effect on the marriage on many levels.  Therefore, if the above suggestions alone to not improve the situation, please turn for help. You can start with your physician. Discuss with him or her the possibility of trying a different method of birth control. The hormonal changes of breastfeeding can also have an impact. If the suggestions of getting more sleep and making set times for romance do not help, this may be a consideration in terms of the age until which you wish to nurse.

Professional resources are available to guide you to make this a point of strength in your marriage.  We understand that seeking help may be daunting but after two years, consulting with a professional might be in order.  If you would like to share your location with us, we may be able to make an appropriate referral.  Or your physician might have some ideas.  In the New York area, the Center for Female Sexuality, has served many religious couples: www.centerforfemalesexuality.com  In Israel, one place to start is Merkaz Yahel

Please write back with any further questions.


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