Often times I get questions regarding libido, sex, and masturbation from women. Many times, women ask “am I normal?” referring to their sex drive and their sexual activity. First, it is necessary to state that every woman is different. Although there may be some “typical” behaviors that most women can identify with, the truth is that women’s sexuality is complex and as unique as each woman.
Here, some common questions from women:
WHAT IS “NORMAL” SEX DRIVE IN WOMEN?
My libido varies throughout the month. I know that when I am ovulating, my libido increases significantly. When ovulation is over, my libido drops. —Elga R., Santiago, Chile
The sources of women’s sex drive are difficult to pinpoint. Women put more value in the emotional connection of the relationship which can spark sexual desire. Moreover, social and cultural factors also influence the sexual desire of women. Dr. Edward O. Laumann, author of The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, asserts that women are extremely sensitive to environment and context and these influence their sexual desire. A woman’s sex drive is also influenced by a complex interaction of many components, including intimacy, physical health, emotional well-being, past experiences with sex and relationships, cultural norms, religious beliefs, lifestyle, and the state of their sentimental relationships, to name a few. Any changes in any of these components can negatively or positively impact a woman’s libido. For instance, hormonal changes play an important role on women’s sexual drive. Women tend to be more aroused when ovulation occurs. Menopause can have the opposite effect, sometimes bringing women’s libido to a low. Fatigue from child rearing, alcohol use, or if the dog barked while having sex could throw a woman off the libido wagon. Therefore, when women are experiencing low libido, it is important to look at the factors that could be dragging down their sex drives:
- Physical Causes: sexual problems (i.e. sex pain, anorgasmia, etc.), medical diseases, medicines (i.e. antidepressants, anti-seizure medications), alcohol, drugs, and fatigue could all be killing your libido.
- Hormone Changes: menopause, pregnancy, and breast feeding could change the normal hormonal levels, thus affecting your libido.
- Psychological Causes: low self-esteem, low self-confidence, poor body image, abuse, and stress could adversely affect your sex drive.
- Relationship Issues: lack of emotional connection with your partner, poor communication, conflict, and trust issues can negatively impact your arousal.
HOW MUCH SEX IS “NORMAL”?
The answer to this question will greatly depend on factors such as your sex drive, your partner’s sex drive, how many distractions you may have (children, chores, TV, etc.), whether or not you are in a relationship, and your lifestyle, to name a few. The study, Money, Sex, and Happiness conducted by David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, revealed that married people have more sex than people who are single, divorced, or widow. Additionally, the study showed that the average person has sex 2 to 3 times a month.
Celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw says that each couple has to negotiate what works within the context of a relationship. As sex is an important component of a relationship and a source of pleasure and happiness, some experts recommend for couples to make a commitment to have sex at least once a week. Younger couples tend to have more sex than older couples and sexual problems within the relationship have been shown to be a top cause for divorce, so addressing sexual issues is important.
I have been married for 5 years. During the course of those 5 years, the frequency of sex has varied. Sometimes we are like bunny rabbits. Then the frequency drops and then it increases again. I like it better when we have a lot of sex but if we are having issues, I can’t even begin to feel aroused. —Celia M., Miami, Fl
HOW MUCH MASTURBATION IS NORMAL?
Although the topic of female masturbation is still taboo, women do masturbate and it should not be a reason for shame or guilt. A study of 1,000 women revealed that 9 out of 10 women masturbate and the average woman does it at least 3 times a week. So, unless you are suffering from continuous arousal without stimulation or desire (this could be a sign of a serious and potentially debilitating sexual dysfunction called Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome), there is nothing wrong with pleasuring yourself as often as you want.
I am not ashamed to admit that I masturbate. I do it often, regardless of the fact that I am married. Pleasuring myself releases tensions, is a moment that I can enjoy without distractions, and usually makes me ready for sex with my husband. —Lara C., Dallas, TX
DO WOMEN THINK ABOUT SEX THAT MUCH?
It is a myth that women do not think about sex. However, studies show that men think about sex more often than women. As previously stated, cultural and religious beliefs can play a significant role in the sexuality of women, thus shaping attitudes toward sex in general. Specifically, women tend to fantasize more in form of a plot in which emotions are involved. Therefore, women’s fantasies may resemble more a romance novel with layers of actions and scenarios.
I think about sex all the time, especially when I am not in a sentimental relationship. —Lorna V., San Juan, PR
Sexuality can be as individual as each person. The good thing is that you can establish your own norm and live according to what works for you.
I want to know what you think about this topic. Leave your comments here or, to send private comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org.