I think I have missed my calling to the fridge magnet market. Or possibly the bumper sticker one. Here’s my latest creation: “There are two “I’s” in “Libido” Do you like it?
Possibly not, if you are of an especially generous disposition when it comes to the contents of your pants. Perhaps even less so if you’re unwillingly self-reliant at present. But really, in general, isn’t it quite a neat catchphrase?
In writing this post, I am struggling with the reticence of the naturally prudish. I don’t tend to talk about sex (baby), unless it’s with very good friends and on the wrong side of too much wine. But news in an article in yesterday’s Guardian about the imminent arrival of a pill to “fix” the female libido has made me angry enough to break my own embargo, fuelled by nothing stronger than tea. On the internet, no-one can see you blush.
I have tried to write a structured and reasoned post about how great it is that relationships foundering on lack of intimacy could now be saved by new Lybrido. Loved-up, happy women; frustrated by physiological problems causing a lack of desire, will be able to spring back into action with their partners. I may not talk about sex much, but that’s not the same as dismissing it as an unimportant part of togetherness. Of course it’s great that they will be helped, just as Viagra can resolve issues with male sexual disfunction.
The problem with writing that structured and reasoned post, though, is that it falls at the first hurdle. Physiological problems aside, how many loved-up and happy women struggle with their libido? It is so hard to write this without falling into agony-aunt column cliché, but women’s sexuality is so inextricably linked with non-sexual factors that diagnosing it as broken for not being there, then offering a pill to make it magically reappear seems incredibly crass, if not dangerous. Conversations between female friends, discussion forums online, even the agony aunt columns which make it a cliché in the first place, will overwhelmingly feature couples where a woman is feeling guilty or under pressure for not wanting sex as often as her partner. Sometimes there will be underlying issues of resentment or even anger; feeling taken for granted or underappreciated. More often it will come down to sheer exhaustion or sensory overload, especially in the early days of parenthood. If a woman feels uncomfortable with her body, either because of weight gain or loss or changing shape, or because of more specific issues post-birth (stitches and tears are not known for their aphrodisiac qualities), sex can seem intimidating – even with the most loving and beloved of partners.
All that is without even thinking about hormones. Especially if she is breastfeeding, but otherwise just as part of the normal monthly cycle, a woman’s sex-drive can feel like it’s subject to a giant on/off switch – which, biologically speaking, makes total sense. Crafty old Mother Nature. Forgive the unscientific and entirely sweeping generalisation, but isn’t it…well… normal for women’s libido not constantly to be cranked up to 10? (Though not abnormal for it to be so, she adds hastily). Add in all the other factors, and yes – it may well go awol for months at a time.
My fear is that the availability and awareness of this new drug will increase pressure on women who have perfectly good reasons for not wanting to have sex to diagnose themselves (or be diagnosed by their partners) as being somehow ill. So many women are so very good at feeling guilty for things which aren’t their fault; medication may be the solution for some here , but so, surely, are time, patience and understanding.
Funnily enough, there’s only one “i” in “Lybrido”. Hmm.