It’s not every day when Hollywood and medical professionals are on the same team, but one part of growing up that "Degrassi" and my doctor agreed upon was that when I became a young adult I was going to want to have sex.
And not only was I going to want to have sex, but the Mentos-and-Coke hormones rocketing around my body would make me want to have sex a lot and for long periods of time. As I bought into this mentality early in high school, college party movies and TV shows played their part in reassuring me of the upcoming fruitful season of sexual endurance my 20’s had to offer. At the same time, my mother and doctor groomed me on how to take care of my body when sex inevitably struck.
But when I finally went through the rite of passage from teenager to 20-something, my sex drive didn’t rev up and take off like everyone else’s. Sure, not unlike many women my age, I got on birth control and lost my virginity to someone special. And yes, my desire for sex is alive in my current serious relationship, but I don’t ache for it like some kind of drug relief, despite what pop songs have drilled into my head.
When you have a low sex drive during the supposed ‘golden years’ of your libido, it’s hard not to see yourself as a bruised peach that peaked too soon. For a while, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something wrong with me.
Why wasn’t I lusting after my boyfriend day and night like I was supposed to?
When I was in the mood why were “quickies” always enough to satisfy me?
Why wasn’t I compelled dress sexy, flirt with men or push myself more in the bedroom?
Do I suffer from female sexual desire disorder? (Doubtful, because I’m not a premenopausal woman and frankly, I’m skeptical if this disorder is even legit and not just a laughably misogynistic diagnosis).
But even though it can be embarrassing to putt along after your sports car lover, I’ve accepted that a sexual appetite doesn’t determine who you are or if your relationship will sink or swim. In fact, more often than not a diminished libido in your 20’s and 30’s isn’t related to physical intimacy at all. Common mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and OCD can desensitize your libido, and mood-stabilizing medications like anti-depressants and even Adderall are notorious for altering hormone levels.
In addition, other daily factors to take into account when combating a low sex drive may include lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, alcohol, birth control, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise – all things collegiates and post-grads are prone to.
Another infuriating misconception is that only couples with salt-and-pepper hair and 20 years of marriage under their belt struggle to keep the romance alive. On the contrary, every couple who sails past the honeymoon phase is challenged to keep the passion afloat rather than sink into a dull, yet comfortable routine – whether they’re 22 or 82.
So believe it or not, it’s OK to have a low sex drive in your 20’s. Sometimes it can be fixed with a multi-vitamin or sexual exploration on your own or with a partner, but sometimes it’s just what comes naturally to you and you don’t have to fight it to make a relationship work.
It’s true that physical chemistry can be a deal-breaker for most couples, but you should never force it if it’s not what you’re comfortable with. For instance, instead of relying on sex as the foundation of our affection, my boyfriend and I both make the effort to perform small acts of physical intimacy, like a hug from behind or an arm around the waist, as well as communicate often what we appreciate about each other. It may not seem like much, but relationships are built on respect not spectacle.
So if you had the choice to spend more time engaging with your partner outside the bedroom or keep scarfing down pineapple and faking orgasms, at the end of the day, which one seems like the bigger win?