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A shot from the HANX x Service95 Libido Event, featuring sex educator EmmCheeky speaking into a microphone, against a purple screen which reads 'Up to 70% of Women will experience low libido at some point'

An Honest Conversation About Libido With Service95

“Shame leaves no place for pleasure.”

This week, we teamed up with Dua Lipa’s Service95 for a candid evening exploring all things sex drive. Hunkered down in the sexy surroundings of Mama Shelter London, we got real with our communities about the science behind libido, tips and tools to improve your sex life and the importance of tackling taboos around our desire levels. Our expert panel, all of whom have a unique perspective on what goes on between the sheets, delved into the ins and outs of arousal, shared libido-boosting advice, and served up answers to all your burning questions. Our aim? To help you rediscover what lights your fire. Here are our top takeaways…

What is libido, really?

Our Co-Founder Dr Sarah Welsh spent 10 years working in NHS gynaecology, specialising in sexual health, and kicked off proceedings by pinning down exactly what we mean when we talk about libido. Put simply, it’s our desire for sexual activity - and there is no normal when it comes to how much you want sex. The truth is that 70% of us experience libido fluctuations at one time or another. Ignore what you see or hear in the media, or in pornography, or hear from your partners/friends/exes. Your sex drive is uniquely yours - be it once a day, once a month or once in a blue moon. 

So, what impacts it? Your desire for sex can be affected by everything from medication (hormonal contraception, skin treatment and SSRIs are all common culprits) to your diet, mood and hormonal fluctuations at key life stages such as pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. Dr Sarah emphasised the importance of thinking about health holistically, too. If you’re moving your body regularly, eating the rainbow and taking care of yourself generally, this can help boost your desire levels. However, if you find that your desire for sex has dipped suddenly or dramatically, disappeared for a long period or is worrying you at all, it’s worth speaking to your healthcare provider to see if there’s a broader reason.


Communicate and advocate

Societal and cultural taboos around discussing sex can make it hard enough to talk openly about sex when it’s going well - let alone when things are less than steamy.  Our guests highlighted the pressure of hoping your libido will be raring to go when planned date night hits and navigating the complications of performance anxiety. This can be especially true if you’re experiencing painful sex due to conditions such as endometriosis. Filmmaker Jasmina Saleh wrote, produced, and directed the award-winning short ‘Dear Doctor’ inspired by her journey to receiving a diagnosis and battle for appropriate treatment. With endo causing heavy bleeding and making penetrative sex extremely uncomfortable and sore, she related how she physically brought her then-partner to a GP appointment to show him the reality of the condition’s impact. Often, it can be hard for partners to understand just how much endometriosis, vaginismus and other health conditions can impede desire, so having them witness a clinical evaluation may help convey the message. Plus: top tip from Jas for fellow endo warriors: pelvic floor physiotherapy. You’re welcome…



Challenge sexual scripts

We found that mismatched libidos in a relationship was a particularly hot topic. Many people worry about not wanting sex, despite finding their long term partner attractive and sexy. This can be particularly true in the queer community, as highlighted by queer and neurodivergent sex educator, student nurse and founder of Radical Love, Cassie Rattray. She highlighted the degree to which heteronormative sexual scripts influence LGBTQIA+ folk, such as the concept of ‘lesbian bed death’. Often derived from the baseless notion that sex without a penis cannot be satisfying, it’s a concept which suggests that lesbians in committed relationships are less intimate - something that for many, is very much untrue. However, myths like this are pervasive and can really take their toll. Frankly, if we put less pressure on achieving an archetype of a ‘good sex life’, we’d all likely have more satisfying hanky panky. 



Qualified sex educator and host of 'The Naughty Corner' podcast, Emm Cheeky championed Emily Nagoski’s brilliant work, which can help challenge sexual scripts, such as: two people find eachother attractive, get it on, get into a relatinship and then have hot sex forever and ever. A lovely idea, but one that doesn't take into account everyday mundane life, and our very unique libidos, which exist within a relationship just as much as when we're single.

For example, some of us experience spontaneous desire, which pops up unbidden and seemingly out of nowhere, perhaps as a stray thought about our partner’s body in the middle of a meeting. Conversely, some of us experience responsive desire, which emerges in response to physical stimulus, rather than the anticipation of it. If you’re one type, and your partner the other, this can create disconnect or hurdles in the horny department.

As for matching them up? Emm highlighted that the solution isn’t as simple as piling on all of your/your partner’s turn-ons at once. Whether it’s making out, dimming the lights or erotic touch, these sexual accelerators or Sexual Excitation System (SES) aren’t effective if, like many of us, your Sexual Inhibition System (SIS) is engaged. Put simply, if your foot is firmly on the metaphorical brakes (aka the SIS) due to work stress, life stress, child caring duties, fatigue, body image or beyond, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to switch into sexy mode mentally, despite how physically arousing their actions may be. (Equally, you might find that stress actually makes you more in the mood for sex - as we’ve emphasised, everyone’s sex drive is different!).



It can take open conversation to overcome these barriers. This doesn’t mean pushing through the brakes, but setting expectations clearly e.g. “I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to feel in the mood for sex because I have a major deadline this Friday. When I deliver this project, let’s celebrate with some real quality time together.”


Give yourself a hand

When in doubt, wank. Masturbation was a hot topic, as it can not only reignite your fire but also help you figure out what you like - and mutual masturbation can help navigate mismatched libidos in a relationship, too. It might feel difficult, but as Cassie highlighted: “give yourself grace” when it comes to your sex drive. Libido ebbs and flows, and whether it's at an all-time high or taking a break, you are absolutely a valid sexual being in your own right.

The last word? Lube. Whether you’re experiencing
arousal nonconcordance, or just want to amp up the fun, our panellists (and guests!) were all in agreement: a little lubricant goes a long way.

A huge thank you to Jas, Cassie, Emm and Sarah for their temperature-raising insights, to Stella Fabinyi of Service95 for hosting such a vibrant discussion. Thanks also to the team at Mama Shelter for hosting this important conversation and Ellen Escapes for the gorgeous shots.

Want more?

  • Missed out? Be the first to hear about future HANX events - sign up here.
  • We quizzed our community on the top things affecting their libido. Here are the results.
  • Try our natural, doctor-approved supplement to support sex drive in women: Libido Lift.

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