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What's Impacting Women's Sex Drives?

What's Impacting Women's Sex Drives?

Why is women’s sex drive a taboo topic - and what’s stopping us from feeling in the mood? To mark the launch of our first natural supplement, Libido Lift, our Customer Love Manager Olivia shares her own experience with low libido and reflects on the results of our no-holds-barred survey about the UK’s sex lives.


Why is libido a dirty word?

I first experienced low libido in my first relationship as a teenager. It’s a time when hormones rush like pigeons to Pret croissant crumbs and hands slip under jumpers like an octopus on heat, so when I suddenly stopped wanting sex all the time, it was a massive shock! I felt really ashamed that even though I found my boyfriend attractive, I couldn’t seem to get in the mood. I was eighteen and impressionable, and pop culture showcased women who didn’t want sex as freaks or as dried-up old biddies. The result? I didn’t discuss it with anyone or even Google for a solution.

Now, in my mid-30s with a wealth of good, bad and meh sexual experiences under my belt, I’ve realised that the real issue at hand is the taboo around discussing women’s sex drives. If I’d felt able to have a chat with a friend, sexual health advisor, my mum or know where to look online, I might have avoided a lot of internalised shame. I found that a lot of the negative thoughts I had about myself at that time came down to persistent perceptions of women as sexual beings and the expectations around that. If you’re not up for it on demand or getting it on the regular, you’re frigid (but if you’re up for it too much, you’re a nympho). To openly admit (even unconsciously typing that made me realise how much of a loaded topic it is!) that you don’t desire sex feels like waving a flag that reads “I am undesirable!”.

If you’ve also experienced low libido, you might recognise my feeling of distress in the disconnect from my general attitude towards sex. Working at a sexual wellness startup and extolling the benefits of sex positivity is probably the best job in the world - but earlier this year during a low libido patch, I felt like a fraud when I got home at night and just wasn’t up for it. The reality is, not feeling sexual desire is actually more common than we think. We asked our community, the HANX Gang, and 73% reported experiencing low or lack of sex drive at some point in their lives. Here are the biggest elements you say are a negative impact on our libido:


  • Body Issues
    When I’m not metaphorically feeling myself, it stops me literally feeling up other people - or even masturbating. For 46% of our community, body issues are the number one factor getting in the way of their sex drive. Low self-esteem can impact your desire for sex, making you get in your head about whether your boobs look great from below or your O face is ugly. It can become a vicious cycle that starts with anxiety around sex, followed by low libido and avoidance of sex with a partner or having a wank with yourself. Some survey respondents highlighted how much they wanted to find lingerie that accentuated the ‘bits they’re happy with’ whilst hiding the bits they’re less fond of. We’re fans of inclusive lingerie experts Playful Promises who make over 80 sizes of bra, or Underdays for a great day-to-day sexy pick.

  • Health Issues
    For those experiencing health issues, sex can be physically difficult and intimidating if you’re feeling exhausted. 36% of our community feel this is dampening their desire for sex, and the topic of menopause came up multiple times. Fluctuating hormones during this time, plus vaginal dryness causing painful sex, can reduce desire for physical intimacy at this time.

    Medication can also have an impact. Within our community, we’ve heard that hormonal contraception can either positively or negatively change your sex drive, which for those who choose the pill when settling into a relationship or extra peace of mind when dating, can be a source of frustration. Similarly, certain antidepressents (SSRIs) are known to lower sex drive, and ADHD difficulty focusing on the act itself. Much of this compounds the issue, with anxiety around disappointing your partner/s building and making it even less likely you’ll want to do it.

  • Work Stress
    It’s hard to stay in the zone when you’re thinking of a reply to a pass-ag email chain, or fighting a niggling worry about end of month targets. Like the 34% of you who highlight work stress, I can’t instantly swap from spreadsheets to sexy talk - and when you think about it, that isn’t strange! In a semi post-pandemic world, where we’re navigating going back to the office or staying fully remote plus juggling Brexit, recession and beyond, it’s no wonder it’s taking up so much headspace in the bedroom.

  • Relationship Issues
    As I know from my own experiences, loss of sex drive in a relationship can either cause relationship issues - or result from them. It can be heartbreaking and very difficult to talk about, especially when terms like ‘dead bedroom’ are bandied about, so I empathise with the 30% who also know how it feels. For some, a lack of physical intimacy reflects a lack of emotional intimacy in the relationship and several respondents highlighted feeling insecure about sex after a partner has cheated in the past.

  • Cost of Living
    When the country is getting fucked, it’s hard to get horny. Financial worries are also a factor, with 27% citing it as the key boner killer - and the looming cost of Christmas and rising energy bills aren’t likely to negate that. Beyond this, 12% cite the unsettled political landscape in the UK, whilst 8.5% are turned off by international conflict.

So, what does it all mean? Sex drive isn’t a purely physical phenomenon. Much like mental well-being, sexual well-being requires us to actively engage and consider elements of our life which are disrupting our ability to get it on - however, and whenever, that feels right for us. A holistic approach to libido as part of our broader health activities, plus tackling taboos around talking about women’s sex drives, are the way forward. Let’s get it on…

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