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Women's Libido

I've been thinking about discussions of libido. They generally go, from what I see, like this:

Random Wanker: Women have lower libidos than men.
Random Woman: I have a really high libido! Maybe I'm rare for a woman, but I prove some of us do.

Mulling this over in my find, I thought about just how many women I know who say this, including myself. And it got me wondering: exactly what is a high libido? Exactly what is a low libido? Do they differ for men and for women? Is low libido in men the same kind of half-secret secret as high libido in women?

So I thought I'd ask you, my fine feathered friends, or at least those who don't mind oversharing: what is your libido like (if you've got one; feel free to also answer if you don't/are asexual/etc.)? How important is sex/sexual play/sexy stuff to you? How often do you want it? Do you think this makes your libido high, low, or middlin'?

As far as me: I can't imagine my libido isn't high. But the interesting thing about it is that the more I do, the more I want. I don't know if this is a common woman thing (though I suspect so) but I never really have peaks and go down from there. I have orgasms, sure, but the energy just builds usually and I just want more.

That's part of what I absolutely love about SM. It lets me experience excess. Too much, overflow of emotion and sensation. I get to flood other people with so much sensation they don't know what the hell is happening other than that they like it. And I get to flood myself with this massive influx of power that makes me feel like I might well bust at the seams too.

It's about a lot of things for me but one of the basic experiences is MORE. It's like letting the ocean crash over you again and again.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
nightengalesknd
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
Aromantic asexual here. Speaks for itself.

Sorry if this screws up your stats. . .
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
No problem :) I can't believe I forgot to account for that, d'oh.
nightengalesknd
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
Well you did. It's 0 on a scale of 1-10. I've also heard it referred to as the orientation of "no, thank you". . . (and you mentioned asexuals in your earlier post today. Which I really appreciate)
queenlyzard
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
You know, I keep meaning to ask you more about that... In a way, I really do envy you for lacking that distraction! I mean, I hate having a low libido, but I don't think I would miss it if I'd never had any sexual desire at all. And I'd certainly be much farther along with my life than I am now!

What I was wondering, actually, is whether you also have less of any other female hormonal issues, like PMS moodswings, or babylust... or are those things completely unrelated?
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Sorry for butting in, as I'm not nightengalesknd and I'm definitely not asexual ;)...

...but I just thought I'd mention that I don't have babylust at all. The whole idea completely puzzles me actually. I hear about women who are perfectly satisfied with their lives and situations and then

OMG NEEEEEEEEEED BABIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE

and it just puzzles the heck out of me. They're cute and all, but wtf?
queenlyzard
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
*laughs* I absolutely hate the idea of breeding. I will never voluntarily become pregnant. Even so, I do experience babylust on regular occasions! I then have to resort to babylust porn/spanking... I'll spend hours drooling over cute pictures and cuddling any small children or animals I can get my hands on until my desire for a baby goes away again!
nightengalesknd
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
You're not nightengalesknd? Really?

By the way, meet queenlyzard I pointed her your way.

The thing about babylust is - it makes sense that some people have it, and it makes sense that others don't. It's probably an evolutionarily useful trait to have on a population level, though.
nightengalesknd
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Fancy meeting you here.

(sorry fierceawakening)

I do get PM symptoms (don't think I meet the whole PMS dx criteria), at least physically. So I know there are hormones in there somewhere. One of my gyn profs said that if someone has premenstrual symptoms, they ovulated, and if they don't, they didn't. He was otherwise a mysognistic jerk but I have no reason to question the validity of this statement. And his reasoning was related to estrogen and other hormone levels. So I figure I must have an estrogen spike and drop, at any rate, most months. Also, it can screw up my blood sugars.

Not sure if I get moodswings or if I'm just natually cranky all the time. I don't get babylust. I don't want to have a kid. I do adore other people's babies, which is probably a good thing for a pediatrician, but I don't want to have one of my own, just to spend time cooing over them when available.

About hormones, actually, I'll get back to you in about 2 weeks. My new endocrinologist is less certain than I am that normal hormones are actually in there somewhere. . .

Since we're having one of those TMI kinda posts, I should mention I do masturbate and have for decades. It just isn't related to any sexual feelings.
queenlyzard
Jun. 24th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Answered in reverse order:
ok, now I'm genuinely intrigued! *laughs* I thought I was the only person for whom masturbation was not always particularly sexual. Still... I can't quite imagine what it would be like to masturbate without any connection to sexual desire. Even as a pre-teen, I think I had some notion of connecting those feelings, and would fantasize about kissing someone, for example.

Well, I don't want a kid either and I still get babylust. Actually, it seems to be an obsession with nurturing anything cute-- heck, I'll start doting over houseplants! Go figure. My biology loves to mess with my head.

*grins* Why are you surprised to see me here? I always take your advice seriously, you know, even when it's just "go check out so-and-so's LJ".
nightengalesknd
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Re: Answered in reverse order:
Not surprised at all.

It helps that I've never fantasized about kissing anyone. I kiss my parents and other relatives, at socially appropriate times, because it's expected of me and them. That's. . .my kissing interst.

For me, it's physically enjoyable but not sexual. I mean, combing my hair can be physcially enjoyable but it's not sexual either. Just because the one involves manipulating a reproductive organ. . .
fierceawakening
Jun. 25th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
Re: Answered in reverse order:
this is probably going to sound snarky and it's really not meant to be, I'm just curious:

but how do you know it's not sexual if you're asexual? Just because you don't seem to experience it the way sexual people do? Or did you used to be sexual and now it's different?
nightengalesknd
Jun. 25th, 2007 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: Answered in reverse order:
No, that's a really good question and not at all snarky. I kind of wish we had conversations like this over at asexuality.

I guess I figure it's not sexual because I am asexual and just don't think that way. Which is sort of reductionist. I assume if I had sexual thoughts, those would include things like wanting to be physically close to another person, wanting to touch or be touched by some other person, wanting to see other people undressed, wanting to kiss someone, wanting to write love poetry - something. And I don't. I never have. I went directly from "I'm not old enough to date or be interesed in dating, maybe in college" to "I'm in college, I'm old enough, and I have no interest in dating." (and anything beyond dating only ever crosses my mind when I read about it in books or hear other people talk about it.)
fierceawakening
Jun. 25th, 2007 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: Answered in reverse order:
Ah, okay. That makes sense.

Part of the reason I ask is that masturbation can often feel rather mechanical to me... but I don't experience that as "not sexual." I didn't used to fantasize much at all when I masturbated. If I tried, I'd feel overloaded, unsure whether I was There To Imagine or There To Orgasm/Experience Bodily Pleasure. Trying to do both made it impossible for me to do either.

Basically, I'd get turned on by thinking about what sex acts I'd like to do (often as much, or more, SM play than "sex") but then when I went to touch myself I'd be focused only on sensations. Often this is a lot less satisfying to me on some levels as fantasizing about sex.

Over a period of time, I actually trained myself to keep the mental images in my head when masturbated. It took a long time. (And made me begin to use my porn in very different ways. Previously I looked at it and would fantasize, but would not look at it while I masturbated. That changed once imagery, in general, became part of masturbation for me.)

(Let me stress to any anti-porners out there who might see this and want to take "she trained herself to respond to porn -- SEE, WOMEN DON'T" out of this that I trained myself to respond to mental images first, and experienced the (pleasant, to me) side effect that I could use porn solo in the same way others did. Previously I used it to suggest fantasy scenarios, or used it with partners during sex/play.)
lilairen
Jun. 25th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Re: Answered in reverse order:
I thought I was the only person for whom masturbation was not always particularly sexual.

Heh. About the only time masturbation parses to me as sexual is when I am wanting time with a partner that I can't have at the moment, and then it's a sorry substitute. That's also about the only time masturbation parses to me as worth the effort.

(I like to sleep with pressure on my clitoral area, and have since I was a small child, but that isn't something that I parse as 'sexual' so much as 'soothing'.)
etana
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
See - I don't know what I've got. I've got a libido - but it's fickle. I guess it's high depending on my partner and how vanilla they are. I get bored of vanilla sex fast so if I'm with someone long-term and it's vanilla, they think my libido is loooow. But really I'm just fickle. If it's play-inclusive, then I'm all over it.
I've just always tossed out the high/low and gone for 'women have mental orgasms and I'm one of htem so fuck my brain first - and if I'm with you then let's get physical"...because if you lose me then I'm not even going to want to touch you.
Does that make any sense?
probably not!
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
I've just always tossed out the high/low and gone for 'women have mental orgasms and I'm one of htem so fuck my brain first - and if I'm with you then let's get physical"...because if you lose me then I'm not even going to want to touch you.
Does that make any sense?


Yes, it completely does. Thank you for sharing. :)
trcabbage
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)
I consider mine to be high. I like sex several times a day. Currently I find that happy place at least once in the morning, often up to 3 times before 9 on weekends. Some times we just spend most of Saturday in bed. Then usually at least once per night. If he worked really late we may miss a night and make up for it the next morning.

However, when I was single, I went several years without sex and turned off the drive to have it.
I'm a control freak, I loves my sex, but not so much that I'll let it control me.
Tobie
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
Some times we just spend most of Saturday in bed.

That's always fun! :)
tokahfang
Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
I would say I have a moderate libido. When my husband is around, I'd like to have sex about twice or thrice a week. I don't feel a real need for it if he's away, it doesn't even occur to me.
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
I get like that sometimes. I don't like it when I am like that, personally.
softanimal
Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
low to moderate. i wish it were higher, but i think it has something to do with the fact that i've been on SSRI's for the past ten-plus years. i'm weaning off now and hope to be med-free by the end of the summer, so it will be interesting to see how that affects (or doesn't affect) my libido.
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
I hope you can increase it to where you'd like it to be :)
phoenix14159
Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
In general it's high -- when I'm in a situation where sex is an option. My primary partner's disability has made sex a rare thing, and I've found that most of the time I don't think about it in an active way (if that makes sense) as a defense. During the couple of months I was in a brief but intense relationship last fall, I was thinking about it All The Time, which is what I've always thought of as normal for me. Before my primary's disability got in the way, it was a rare day that we didn't do something, often more than once.

I've had male partners who were put off by how much sex I wanted. My ex-husband wanted sex all the time when we only saw each other on weekends -- then I moved up to NH to be with him, and discovered that he only wanted it on weekends. And not even always then. This was a source of stress through the 4 years of our marriage.

So yeah, lower male libido exists. I get pretty annoyed at the "men always want it a lot, and women always want it less" crap.
fierceawakening
Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I've noticed that male partners have tended to want less than me, as well.
lilairen
Jun. 23rd, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
... complicated question, actually.

Even at its best, my libido is very rarely driven to initiate; it is almost entirely responsive in nature. (There are occasions when this is not the case, which has in the past occasionally perplexed and startled various partners.)

Further, my libido is extremely sensitive to depression issues and traumas, and if there is stress in a relationship, especially anywhere near sex and sexuality, it will vanish down a very steep slope. (This is an ongoing issue with one of my partners, where I was emotionally incapable of sex for several years and have a guilt complex about that that makes responsiveness frequently staggeringly difficult.)

I have a self-image of an overall low libido, due to the sexual damage in my history and the fact that I rarely initiate sex (though I will initiate sexual relationships quite readily); however, I don't think this is actually true. In a relationship without baggage with a partner who is responsive in ways that arouse me and inclined to do things that I respond to, I appear to run high and hot. I respond very strongly to an attractive partner who is uninhibited.

I wonder if the 'women have low libidos' things has anything to do with sexual damage distributions. (This is not sex-limited, as I'm pretty sure my ex has similar issues, but more likely to hit women in current social context.) Plus the whole issues with women having uninhibited sexuality can really do a number on some things.

Have more thoughts. Have to run to dinner with husband, too, so thoughts come later.
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
I wonder if the 'women have low libidos' things has anything to do with sexual damage distributions.

That's an excellent point.
belledame222
Jun. 24th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
yep.
queenlyzard
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for posting this! I was starting to think I was the only one who felt this way... in relationships I am an emotional wreck when it comes to sex, because I don't want it as often as I "should".
mimisoliel
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
I getcha. Libido does vary across people, health, personal repression or lack of, and gender.

Just speaking from my own experiences of course, I know I have a very high libido. Usually, the longer I go, the longer and more intense I go; where it seems like I just won't have the obvious end orgasm. Even though I keep having entire-body orgasms over and over. So I do understand what you mean.

I have been fortunate enough to know women who appreciate this and have commented I make love like a boy and a girl.

And spent time with one woman who had the sexual interests and libido of an eight year old. she was rather socially retarded across the board though. I thought our friendship could help change at least some of it. No way at all. UGH!
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Ah. I figured you'd have something interesting to say and I was right. :) Thanks.

Usually, the longer I go, the longer and more intense I go; where it seems like I just won't have the obvious end orgasm. Even though I keep having entire-body orgasms over and over

I've seen this before -- great stuff.

It's another thing that's interesting to me about the SM scene... there's a lot more room for different kinds of male pleasure. Not just that cisgendered men are allowed to be submissive or get penetrated or whatever have you, but also that there isn't this extremely narrow focus on penises and the things one is "supposed" to do with them.

So I see a lot of men who do get into sensual stuff, or who do really enjoy what our culture might call "foreplay", or who have orgasms/orgasm-like experiences that are different than just "I shoot come now." I like that -- not that there is anything wrong with more "regular" sex (or with penises, they're nice things), but I think it's good to give men some more variety in experiencing pleasure.

I thought our friendship could help change at least some of it. No way at all. UGH!

Yeah, you can't create a libido where there isn't one.

Though I think it's important to mention here that... well, unless this person was unhappy with her sexuality, it's fine for her not to be big on sex. Some people just... aren't.

It IS very frustrating if sex is very important to you and not to your partner, though.
mimisoliel
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
My view of it all blends foreplay throughout the experience. I love to render my partner's body pleasurably useless by the end. I'm not a control freak or anything. But I usually tend to be the driver even by mutual orgasms' end.

I have no problems with being the stronger or vulnerable one, but I almost always tend to be the "master". So that can be frustrating for me at times. I am always seen as the strong and trusted one. I do take care of a partner along the way, no matter how gentle or rough things seem to be.

I love to give/have an entire skin orgasm along the way.

In my observances, I've noted that people with very low interests in sex, are that way across the board. They wish everything in their lives to be as Wonder Bread bland as possible. :-(
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
In my observances, I've noted that people with very low interests in sex, are that way across the board. They wish everything in their lives to be as Wonder Bread bland as possible. :-(

Some people are comfortable with calm and placid lives.

I'm definitely NOT one of them. Every time I try I'm miserable.
mimisoliel
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
It's weird for me to see a person, especially in their youth, eating food with the taste of latex paint, in the bed by 8 pm, either no music in their lives or an appreciation for it at the level of elevator music, a blind trust in official propaganda, and so on... :-(

There's calm/placid, and neutered/lifeless, in my book.

"I'm definitely NOT one of them. Every time I try I'm miserable."

I believe we only go around this once, so we better get all we can from it and ourselves. Or we do ourselves an injustice
frankiejlh
Jun. 24th, 2007 01:38 pm (UTC)
I agree that the assumption of {male = higher libido} and {female = lower} has been vastly oversimplified and seems to be refuted by a good number of people.
At the same time, i have to say that testosterone injections have made a pretty noticeable difference in my body/experience. Perhaps the effects will mellow out over the next few years, but I went from wanking/sexing perhaps once a day, pre-T, to wanting it, like, 4 or 5 times a day on average at this point. That number goes back down when i'm low on the stuff and escalates when i'm high on it (so to speak).
The quality of the horniness is different, too; i feel a little more cardinal and a little less mutable, and while still being mostly a bottom have discovered the occasional desire to switch.
...So, to answer your question and truncate my ramble, the libido seems pretty high at this point, but is also subject to nonchemical influences: if i'm stressed about something, it plummets; if i'm stressed but want to escape mentally, however, it quite obligingly increases. If i'm having good sex regularly, it's off the charts. If i'm having none, it goes back down (i think it's very interesting that a lot of people here say something similar: that if they're not getting laid, the libido goes down. i wonder what that's about. self-protection? sex begetting sex?).
...Oh and! my partner, an mtf transwoman, experienced the expected huge decrease in sex drive after having an orchiectomy, but once she discovered tantric yoga exercises she pretty much brought it back to its pre-op state.
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
I've definitely heard that testosterone makes people want more sex (and you're not the only one I've heard suggest it makes him more toppy, either.) So yeah, I'm sure that is a factor.

And my own libido tends to go up when I do things that I'd imagine up my testosterone level temporarily (competition, exercise, listening to heavy music, playing violent games, behaving in a generally dominant sort of way, etc.)

Thing is that I've also known quite a few men (cisgendered men at least) with libidos much lower than the "well, they have more testosterone than me even when I'm likely fucking high as a kite on it, so they've got to at LEAST want it as much as me" rule of thumb would lead me to expect.
lilairen
Jun. 25th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
I know testosterone is a factor -- the first birth control pill formulation I was on rendered me completely asexual (as opposed to 'intermittently asexual due to other stresses'); the formulation I eventually wound up on is specifically higher-testosterone.
belledame222
Jun. 24th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
yeah, i think mine is also hampered by SSRI's.

a recent experiment with lowering the dosage of the libido-dampening one didn't go well (became more tearful than i had been in a while), so, back to the drawing board. so annoying. i never thought i'd miss -anything- about my adolescence, least of all what I only wanted to GO. AWAY. at the time...
jillette
Jun. 24th, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
My libido tends to be high. I think though women don't generally admit this to men, it gets in the way of playing sexual games of dominance and teasing.

Its incredibly important to me because this energy drives me towards my kinks (shaving, piercing, bod mods, pumping) which in turn take me to the horizon of excess and prolong the sexual tension which ultimately peaks in orgasm. I aim for orgasm about every other day (at least) and sometimes I get there while on others I leave the tension to continue and increase in intensity until a better orgasm the following day.

After that I am relaxed, fulfilled and content for at about a day, but want more and more to get an even better "high" usually at a further extremity of my available fields of kink.
fierceawakening
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
I aim for orgasm about every other day (at least) and sometimes I get there while on others I leave the tension to continue and increase in intensity until a better orgasm the following day.

I'm glad that you mentioned this. I always figured my libido to be high as well, but I don't find myself "needing an orgasm" every day (I usually do give myself one almost every day, though). I'm more likely to need sex or play every day if I have a partner.

So I'm not like the women who've answered that they need sex multiple times a day (though I truly find multiple-times-a-day sex or play delightful!) But I think my drive is still high, because I am often in a kind of simmering-under-the-surface sexual mood, and I really like that and miss it when it's not there.

It doesn't take much when I'm like that to bring it to the surface. :)
queenlyzard
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
Warning: TMI!
*laughs* Wow do I envy you!

Sex is very important to me. Unfortunately, my biochemistry likes to mess with me when it comes to my actually being able to enjoy it.

As a teenager, I was perpetually horny. Pretty much all I could think about was how to hook up with someone-- anyone! I rarely got the opportunity, and when I did, it didn't satisfy me for long. I craved more. At the time, I was also suffering severe untreated depression, so sexual highs were one of the few pleasures I had. Because of this, I'm not sure my psychological perception of sex is entirely healthy-- it wasn't, for example, an expression of love; it was more like a drug.

I didn't lose my virginity until college, and the bitter irony is that my libido started to wane soon afterwards. At the time, that could have been due to medication (I was on both Prozac and the pill for the first times in my life)... but it formed an unfortunate pattern I still struggle with. My physical attraction to someone never lasts long once we've had sex, and I have a hard time finding people or things that arouse me. I don't know if this is over-active novelty-seeking, or if the mental habits I unwittingly formed during high school have "programmed" me to only be aroused by people I can't have! Either way, it sucks, and makes relationships very difficult.

I'm going to look into medication again, because I think there's something wrong with my entire endorphin system-- it isn't just sex I have trouble with; I also rarely experience general excitement, adrenaline during exercise, or appetite for food. Which makes me suspect that, while I may have some mental hang-ups around sex, those don't account for the entire problem (I too sometimes like a certain amount of pain with sexual activity, but only because it causes an adrenaline spike.... which sometimes feels closer to arousal than anything I get out of the sex itself). These things have started to improve as my overall health has improved, but there's still a long way to go.

These days, I get crazy-horny just a few days out of the month (usually right around my period, when it doesn't do me any good!), to the point where I struggle to keep from throwing myself at complete strangers. The feeling is distracting as all hell, but I miss it when it's gone. The rest of the month, I'm disinterested in sex... and more often than not, the idea of most sexual things simply depresses or disgusts me. I wish I could experience situationally-appropriate arousal (i.e., getting turned on by seeing someone attractive), rather than this wholly internal hormonal roller-coaster.

Interestingly, I've never had trouble reaching orgasm, even at my least sexually interested. It's just a question of whether or not it feels good to get there! I've masturbated regularly since childhood (though it took me years to understand what I was doing), and it's something I do most nights out of habit. On the worst nights, there is never a feeling of desire anywhere in the process. My body goes through the motions of rising heart-rate, changes in breathing, etc., without any emotional component. Orgasm itself can feel pretty much like an electric shock (usually it isn't that bad), followed by enough endorphins to relax me and put me to sleep. Experiences like that obviously involve enough pleasure that I keep doing it regularly... but not enough that I would enjoy sharing the experience with a significant other (intercourse, for example, is downright painful at times like that, even if I do orgasm).

I miss feeling sexual excitement-- when just looking at someone or kissing them made my face flush and my skin tingle. I'd pay very good money to have that back as a frequent part of my life.

And... *laughs*... it seems to me that these days, the standard opinion is that women do have high libidos. So much has been written on that topic that I've started feeling like a total freak... and I can no longer shrug off my low libido to my partners as "just a woman thing". *Sigh* I absolutely hate being female. Or at least being me. It seems everyone else gets all the fun!
_she_devil
Jun. 26th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
mine is context dependent. if i'm having sex at all i want it all the time and i have a high sex drive and will have sex multiple times a day.

if i'm not having it/am not in a relationship then i can go without sex for quite a while (le sigh) and i don't want it as often either.
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