7 Life Events That Usually Cause Libido Changes
Sometimes positive, sometimes negative
Life-events that significantly change our status quo - change our libido, too. Sometimes these libido changes are positive; creating more desire and passion in our relationship. Other times, they’re negative, and we find ourselves wondering just what is going on.
The interesting part is that most life events can impact desire in both ways. It’s who you are, how you’re wired and how you deal with things that determine which way your desire will go.
Below are seven life events that all can affect how much you feel like having sex.
1. Moving House
Moving is usually cited as one of life’s most stressful situations. And it makes sense, right? Not only does it contain hours upon hours of manual labour; packing, stacking and lifting heavy boxes, it also, temporarily, removes your safe space.
For a lot of people, home is your castle. It’s your favourite place to decompress and recharge. When you move, that place disappears.
You’re (literally) moving into the unknown and this can spark feelings such as worry and anxiety, even if you’re excited about the change, too.
Leaving your safe space and dealing with all the logistics and labour is like a recipe for negative libido changes. However, once settled in and less stressed - the new environment might cause positive changes. Because novelty, even the environmental kind, can increase sex drive.
2. Getting Promoted
Just as moving house can be stressful - so can a job promotion. While both situations might actually be more net positive than negative, your initial reaction will likely be one involving stress.
This stress might be positive; you feel excitement and butterflies about your new job opportunity. But it’s still stress. And your body reacts the same way to positive stress, as it does negative stress.
You may find it more difficult to turn off work when you come home in the evening, or find yourself trying to solve work-related problems during dinner with your spouse, instead of engaging in conversation.
And even if you’re so lucky to love your new job or feel excited about the promotion - thoughts about work seldom increase desire. Because when your brain is preoccupied with work-related thoughts, or any anxious thoughts at all, it will struggle to pick up on sexual cues. And without sexual cues - there’s no incentive for your desire to show up.
Growing a tiny human in your body is work - and it often impacts your sex drive in one way or another.
For some, the changes are negative; a changing figure, hormone spikes and morning sickness zap any and all interest in sex.
For others, pregnancy can be a bit of an aphrodisiac, at least in the second trimester. This one is usually touted as “the best” from both a psychological and physiological perspective. Some report more interest in sex due to being more in contact with their body, or feeling more “womanly” as a result of being pregnant.
Whichever sex drive changes pregnancy brings about - they’re completely normal. And you don’t have to actively work to change them, if you don’t want to.
4. New Parenthood
Just as pregnancy brings about a whole host of hormonal changes - so does parenthood.
Bonding with your new baby releases the “love-hormone” oxytocin, which aides in you and your baby forming a deep attachment.
Some believe that it’s this flow of oxytocin that causes negative libido changes. If you’re already feeling all loved up and bonded with your baby - there will be little want left for enmeshing with another human being - your partner.
Whether you prescribe to the hormonal theory or not, it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on with a new baby besides hormones, that can cause changes in sex drive.
Becoming a new parent is to come face to face with new challenges. These include getting next to no sleep, a change in identity, and dealing with very little alone time. And when basic functions go out the window - libido usually dips.
If you want your sex drive back, try carving out some alone time, even if it’s just 10 uninterrupted minutes a day. Getting to be just you, not parent-you, can make a world of difference. You can also find more tips on fanning the flame in your relationship in this blog post on what to do to keep a relationship alive as a first-time mum.
While aging isn’t a set life event (it’s literally occurring all the time!), certain ages might wreak more havoc on your libido than others.
For some, menopause can negatively affect your desire for sex. This is thought to partially be the result of dropping estrogen and testosterone levels.
For others, age affects your arousal abilities. It can become harder to get or sustain an erection, and more difficult to lubricate.
Even if sexual desire and sexual arousal aren’t one and the same thing - they’re linked. This means how we feel about arousal difficulties also affects our levels of desire. If you’re anxious or nervous about not being able to sustain arousal during sex with your partner, this might have an adverse effect on your desire, too.
Other times, aging has a positive effect on desire. Finally having the house to yourself after decades of rearing children, having more time on your hands, and experiencing more freedom, can do wonders for your sex life and desire.
6. Becoming ill
To be a human is to experience both highs and lows - and one definite low is becoming ill. Serious health conditions such as cancer or heart disease often cause negative libido changes - and for obvious reasons.
You’re experiencing something potentially life-threatening - and when your brain perceives it as such, it’s more likely to block your sex drive, so you can focus on survival.
A threatened brain is seldom a sexually excited brain.
However, for some, increased levels of anxiety, whether due to illness or not, can actually have a positive impact on desire. This likely has to do with attachment patterns, which you can read all about in my blog post on “can emotions affect sex drive?”
7. New relationship
New love can be magical on many levels - not least, sexually. For many people, a boost in sexual desire is experienced when we fall in love with someone new.
The reason? There are many, but part of the answer is novelty.
The person, the relationship and the situation is all new and exciting. You have perhaps yet to experience conflict, witness emotional baggage or see other negative patterns settle into your dynamic; ones that can get in the way of your desire to have sex and be close.
If you want to experience positive libido changes, the answer isn’t necessarily to end your current relationship or marriage. In fact, as a sex therapist I help individuals and couples in long relationships increase their desire all the time.
There are lots of ways of getting the spark back and one of them is by identifying why your desire is gone in the first place (hint: it usually has to do with more than just relationship length). You can find this out in my free quiz: The Desire Test.
Even if new love is exciting, it always sparks more desire. For some people, it’s the attachment phase, about 6 months into a relationship, that brings about more sexual feelings. If this sounds like you, you might identify with being demi-sexual. This means desire in the beginning phases of a relationship is low or non-existent, but once you’ve formed an emotional bond with the person - you’re ready and raring to go.
Desire is complex
If you’re experiencing shifts in desire, take a step back and examine recent life events. Things such as moving house, becoming pregnant, or getting a job promotion, can all lead to libido changes. This is because our sexuality and desire live in tandem with the rest ourselves. So, when life changes, so will desire. It probably won’t change things forever - but it will have an impact on us here and now, and understanding this impact can make all the difference.
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex -- so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to learn more about how your sex drive works, download her free resource: The Desire Test.
Originally published at LeighNoren.com.