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Married With Kids: Is Libido Lower for Women?

Study Shows Women With Young Kids Are Most Likely to Report Lower Sex Drive
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Just Too Tired

The big difference in sexual desire reported by the men and women and women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s comes as no surprise to sexual medicine specialist David Goldmeier, MD. Goldmeier co-authored an editorial accompanying the study.

"A woman who has small kids and a husband to take care of and maybe a job outside the home on top of that is going to be exhausted at the end of the day," he tells WebMD. "The last thing she wants to think about is sex. Her husband may be tired too, but he has about 10 times the testosterone that she has. So he is thinking about it."

Psychologist and certified sex therapist Marianne Brandon, PhD, tells WebMD that sexual desire is one of the first things to go when women feel that their lives are out of balance either emotionally, intellectually, physically, or spiritually.

She co-authored the 2004 book Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido, which explores the subject.

"When we are making love, we are at our most vulnerable," she says. "So any issue that is not quite right, be it in our psyches, our bodies, or our relationships, is likely to play out during this vulnerable time. We may pull away or shut down, and we often don't know why we are doing it."

The problem is compounded, she says, by the fact that gender roles between men and women have become more and more blurred. Women are taking on more responsibilities traditionally considered reserved for men -- and vice versa.

"Society has encouraged us all to become more androgynous by developing both our masculine and feminine sides," she says. "It is good that we are more flexible and are not so stereotyped in the way we function in the world."

But it can be a problem in sexual relationships, where more clearly defined gender roles are desirable. Brandon says women in this society tend to lose touch with their feminine core as they age.

Getting it back takes time and work, she adds, but the payoff is much bigger than just a better sex life.

"I would never tell a couple that sex is the most important part of their life. I don't believe it," she says. "But if you take the time and make it a priority, sexual satisfaction in a long-term relationship is going to bring a lot of life satisfaction."

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