In Indian culture, we have oversimplified the term ‘sex drive’. People think of a sex drive as a high desire to have sex, with emphasis on ‘high’. Typically, this has been reserved for and associated with men because women have not been openly encouraged to embrace their sexuality. Female sexual desire is multi-faceted and complex, and our culture has a long way to go when it comes to intimacy and understanding it.
I often receive messages from men asking for help on how to arouse their partner’s interest in having intercourse or how to improve their partner’s sex drive. One such query that was sent to me states; “I have been married for 13 years, living my life happily with my wife and son but when I want to have intercourse, my wife tells me that she is not interested every day. If I suggest it after a week, she gives another reason (a headache, she’s tired, or anything else). This problem has been ongoing since our wedding. We have had intercourse maybe 2-3 times in a year after our baby’s birth. I want to sort it out with your professional help as I am unable to understand if she is losing interest in me.”
For mothers, sexual desire is more complicated than just being uninterested in your partner.
Firstly, let us understand what desire really is.
There’s a biological definition, a psychological definition, and a social definition. To keep it simple, desire is to own ‘the wanting’. While desire is a mental component, it’s never just in your head. If I imagine the coffee that I’m going to have for breakfast and I have a particular place where I want to go to get it, I’m already in a plot or fantasy to get it. I am in a story, and that story is energizing me for it. My body already has a different attitude just thinking and fantasizing about it. I can almost smell its aroma and can even imagine tasting it. I’m already a part of the sensual sensory experience of this coffee that hasn’t even been ordered yet!
All of this is a part of the experience of desire. Our mind can create entire experiences by the power of our imagination, which is unique and essential to preserving this desire.
You could almost say that the crisis of desire is a crisis of the imagination; “I want to be sexual, but in order for that, there needs to be a deserving person “I,” who feels a sense of entitlement to engage with that part of themselves.”
If you see a woman who has become a mother, there are several changes that she has experienced – mentally, physically, and emotionally – that blur her sense of self and her identity as a woman. Becoming a mother is life-changing; it brings intense happiness and joy but for many, it can introduce some heartache and suffering.
There are so many changes that happen after a baby, so the relationship between a woman and her body itself changes.
Changes in the physical body that are visual – your belly growing, scars if you’ve had a caesarean, tearing during a normal delivery, the way you can produce natural lubrication, the shape, and size of your breasts – all feel different. Breastfeeding can also create less lubrication, it changes the level of your desire too. Hormonally, your period cycle changes, and then there is also lack of sleep too which is an essential function of your body.
There is so much that your body goes through. It’s a huge change and it does not start just with giving birth, it starts with pregnancy. Some people are violently ill during pregnancy, some people have tonnes of sexual desires during pregnancy, and some people have a hard time getting pregnant or miscarriage or traumatic birth.
How do we as women transcend all these changes and make sure our intimate lives do not suffer because of them? You might wonder, ‘How can I improve my sex drive and sustain intimacy?’
Sex is a part of romance between the couple and when sex vanishes, romance does too. So, how do you begin intimacy after a plateau that may last a few months to a few years after the birth of your baby?
One of the ways to improve sex drive is to just have this conversation, and know that you are not alone. Intimacy is not a fairy tale stuff of movies, intimacy is a real connection that is created amidst real challenges of life.
If you’re not feeling sexy or you’re afraid sex will hurt, talk to your partner. Until you’re ready to have sex, maintain intimacy in other ways. Spend time together without the baby, even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning and after the baby goes to sleep. Look for other ways to express affection.
Remember, taking good care of yourself can go a long way toward keeping passion alive. It’s also important to keep in mind that there is more to intimacy than just sex. Have open and honest discussions with your partner if you are feeling nervous or uncomfortable about sex and come up with other ways to strengthen your relationship, even if it is simply enjoying time together without the baby.
Our experts work round the clock to provide you with the answers that you are looking for. If you have any, leave it in the comment section below or send us a DM at @nuawoman. This is a safe space so don’t hold back on any doubts you may have about your body and mind. Read our other Community Asks here.
Read all of Pallavi Barnwal’s other articles here.