By Amy Engeler
At 3 a.m., with all the houses dark up and down her winding suburban street in West Warwick, Rhode Island, Jo-Ann Frey, 37, lights a candle so she can see well enough to dust her furniture. Careful not to turn on any lights or make noise that might wake up her family, she drifts from room to room with her candle and cleaning supplies, waiting until she feels sleepy enough to climb back into bed. That feeling doesn't come -- and when she hears the alarm in the bedroom go off...
"I always thought my husband and I would be making love until we were
90. But I just turned 39 and my libido is nowhere to be found."
If these sexual issues sound familiar, you're clearly not alone. Experts say
that a lack of interest in making love -- even with partners we adore in many
other ways -- is not as unusual as we might think.
"A disappearing sex drive is a common problem -- sometimes in women as
young as her 30's -- and while it hasn't reached epidemic proportions yet, I
think we're only seeing a small portion of the women who are affected,"
says Rebecca Amaru, MD, a gynecologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New
Indeed, in one global study of sexual problems published recently in the
Journal of Impotence Research, up to 43% of women expressed a loss of
sexual desire, beginning as young as age 40. Similarly, up to 36% of women who
were having sex reported they weren't enjoying it.
Understanding Your Sex Drive - Or Lack of It
For some women, low sex drive or even the inability to have sex is linked to
specific problems. According to renowned sex therapist NYU professor Virginia
Sadock, MD, this can include illness, medications, or sometimes even a specific
physical problem related to intercourse.
"It can also be the result of hormonal changes that begin in the 40's. A
lack of lubrication, for example, makes sex less comfortable and over time that
can dampen desire," says Christiane Northrup, MD, author of The Wisdom
of Menopause (Hay House).
When low sex drive is health-related, experts say, the solution is easy.
"For some women all it takes is a little dab of either lubricant or
estrogen cream on the clitoral area. You can't believe how many women suffer,
not realizing how easy this problem is to solve," says Northrup.