Can We Talk About Sex?

This post is sponsored by unblush.

Can we talk about sex?

When it comes to sex, my friends and I were always down to get into it. Part of my comfort was due to being in a long-term committed relationship. I wasn’t talking about late-night hook ups with a guy I met in a taxi. I was talking about what we did in the living room when the kids went to sleep. And while I talked about evening forays with girlfriends, I never really got into the intricacies of desire. Not unless desire directly aligned with sharing stories about breastfeeding.

Discussing desire in the context of breastfeeding and babies, felt normal and easy. And of course, making sex work while parenting felt important and yes, at times, exciting and easy. But when it came to any odd health issues, unexplainable dry spells, sex issues, or just a general problem in the cycle of sex and relationship, I remained pretty silent.

Over the last few years, and as I’ve changed, my personal need to lift the veil from what we often see as intimate and rigid spaces, grows. This includes, family, womanhood, sexual health, sex, and yes, sexual desire. I have been trying to find the right entrance into the topic for a long time. It didn’t come as easy as I’d hoped. But then I learned about low sexual desire – and I realized it’s something that is often not talked about in the comfort of our friend circles. Of all the conversations I’ve had about sex, I don’t recall the topic of low desire coming up. But it turns out that it really should be a part of the conversation, because it’s far more common than I thought.

That’s why I’m partnering with unblush to call attention to one form of low sexual desire: hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).  Have you heard of HSDD?

If this is the first time you’re hearing about it, you’re among a large and amazing group (that once included myself). Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is defined as ongoing low sexual desire that women find frustrating. HSDD has been a recognized condition for decades, but fairly new news to people like you and me.

HSDD won’t necessarily show up in physical symptoms, like pain or discomfort. It’s believed to be the result of an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain that are responsible for regulating sexual desire. If you are content on not being sexual, or even identifiy as asexual, then you likely do not have HSDD (but feel free to still discuss it with your doctor). And no, it isn’t a low sex drive that is “just in your head.” It’s real! And it is estimated that 1 in 10 women in the US may have it! Isn’t that crazy?

While I personally never suffered from frustrating low sexual desire, friends of mine have (and a few ladies reached out anonymously after my initial instagram post). And my own experience after I gave birth to River nine years ago raised a related frustration: how it can sometimes be difficult to talk to your healthcare provider about sex. If you’ve read Woman Of Color, you probably know the pain and joy that arrived with her birth. But what I didn’t write about was that after my tear, and subsequent wobbles and doctor’s visits, I found sex unbearably painful for a while. No one outside of my relationship and my doctor knew. I went to my doctor again and again, complaint after complaint, and asking questions. I was told it was normal after birth, while breastfeeding, after a tear etc… The list of “this is normal” grew on. But it wasn’t. I was embarrassed. I felt inadequate and yes, naive. My doctor didn’t take what I said seriously until I went in with my ex, and we both sat with her. Right after that sit-down we found an answer for me and my body, that was long overdue.

Looking back, I now realize there were so many issues with all of it. The first being, I was a young black woman who’s sexual health wasn’t taken seriously. This is a serious epidemic that has been made more clear to me over the last six years. This epidemic has been the root of many of my conversations in relation to motherhood when on my book tour. But there was also the issue that unless the conversation about pain and sexual desire was mediated by my ex, I wasn’t heard.

All of this is terribly problematic. In fact, I learned from unblush that many of these issues apply to women who are dealing with HSDD. They have found that healthcare professionals are more likely to listen to a woman when she mentions that it impacts her partner. The fact that it impacts HER is not enough.

That’s why we are having this conversation. If you think you may have HSDD, unblush can help. It has a short quiz to help you narrow it down. And if you don’t have it or just generally feel like something is off, they also have a tool-kit to bring to your healthcare professional so that you can feel confident in talking about it. No matter what, in looking back and forward, I’m eager to talk about sexual desire, sexual health and just plain sex with friends and you! I hope you feel more confident in just talking, too.

 

Top photo by Amanda Petersen for LaTonya Yvette. Graphic c/o of unblush. This post is sponsored by unblush, a community created by AMAG Pharmaceuticals. I use pharmaceuticals when in need, and have always supported others who need and use them. With that said, all thoughts and opinions by me are honest and un wavered, and are in support of women who are interested in lifting the veil from sexual health.

As always, thank you for supporting our sponsors, who help sustain this small business.

20 thoughts on “Can We Talk About Sex?

  • Reply Annie from Brimful August 15, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Thank you for talking about this area of women’s health.

    • Reply latonya August 15, 2019 at 9:20 am

      Thank you for reading, Annie. AND being receptive. It is such a hard discussion.

      xo

  • Reply Leslie August 15, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Thank you for this. I have had very low desire my whole sexual life. My partners have taken it personally and made me feel shame about it. I appreciate this discussion. Being a breast cancer survivor, I need to be especially careful about hormones and such. You’ve inspired me to look into possible solutions.

    • Reply Veronica August 15, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      Insanity that you had to be validated by your ex. I mean, wonderful that he went with and you got answers but women have been overlooked for far too long. Awesome that you are helping bring this to light. Thanks

      • Reply latonya August 15, 2019 at 8:12 pm

        Thank you Veronica! It’s so very common, it’s surprising!

  • Reply Vic August 15, 2019 at 11:54 am

    It’s outrageous that a medical professional is more likely to take you seriously if this also impacts your male partner (not to mention the way the health care system often treats black women). When will we reach the point where a woman’s sexuality and wellbeing is important just for her sake, and more importantly independent of any partner whatsoever?

    Thank you for broaching this very important topic – the ‘veil’ is such a key factor in coercing women into just putting up with these issues, and much of our current socialisation isn’t helpful in navigating seasons of high and low desires either, whatever the reason! It’s time to end the silence around this.

    • Reply latonya August 16, 2019 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Vic. It is completely frustrating and also, realize how many women this happens to. I hope a change happens soon, but have little hope given the admistration and its rollbacks on the already defunct system that we have.

      L

  • Reply Laura August 15, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    I can relay so much… THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

    • Reply latonya August 16, 2019 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Laura!

      Thank you so much for reading! It feels so good to know people appreciate this post. I had many nerves about it!

      L

  • Reply Cynthia C. August 15, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you so much for educating us on this topic! I had no knowledge of this disorder prior to reading your blog. It was so informative and notes were definitely taken!

    • Reply latonya August 16, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you so much, Cynthia! I am so happy notes were taken and you found it helpful!

      XO
      LaTonya

  • Reply Moraya August 15, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Such an important topic. Also normalizing that talking about sex and desire with friends can be around your long term relationships not just surrounding hook up culture. I find to often will talk about it when it’s fun or funny but not when it’s about passion and long term commuter safety to really play and enjoy.
    Also the culture of I don’t want to talk about my “private” life limits the community connection of teaching each other us and shame from childhood can carry for so much longer.

    • Reply Brenda August 15, 2019 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you so much for your open, honest and enlightening discussion. I had never heard of this disorder. By the way, I love your book.

    • Reply latonya August 15, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you, Moraya! Yes, I love talking about the topic with friends who are in long term relationships and marriages- it’s sort of against the “grain” but I actually think it’s really helpful and creates a real sisterly bond with friends.

      Thank you for your words, you’re spot on.

  • Reply Brenda August 15, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you so much for your open, honest and enlightening commentary. I had not heard of this disorder prior to your post.

    • Reply latonya August 15, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you for reading Brenda! And same, it was so fascinating to find out more about it over the last few months.

    • Reply Tara August 18, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you for bringing this up, especially black women’s health and pain. There’s data to back up that we are not heard or pain taken as seriously as other groups.

  • Reply Judith Ross August 16, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    This is such a big topic, thank you for addressing at least a piece of it. Interestingly, someone I know, who is white (like me), also suffered post-birth pain like you did. Her doctor sent her to physical therapy, which she said was uncomfortable, but helpful. My doctor has also recommended physical therapy for my aging, post-menopausal pelvic floor, because sex, while still gratifying, is painful. You should have been offered the same. (I don’t want to cast aspersions on your doctor, but we do have to ask: why the discrepancy in care?) I also experienced a loss of libido after childbirth, and I fear that my 36 – year- marriage is still feeling the mental consequences at a time when sex has become more complicated for both of us.

  • Reply Brandy August 16, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    I do believe that we all go through things that cause our sex drive to go up and down. I feel a drug can help. I also think that using HSDD and the #unblush to feed into the insecurities of women is wrong. Often times a Dr cannot tell you what’s wrong in this department because they do not know. You go to the website, take the quiz and they send you to a Dr who will definitely give you this drug because Drs get flown out to really nice sponsored conferences, and these reps visit their offices regularly. A drug rep regularly provides lunch for my Gynecologist’s office. Let’s have the conversation, YES. Please have a 360 degree conversation about the pharmaceuticals being prescribed to us too.

    Vyleesi (bremelanotide injection) is manufactured by AMAG Pharmaceuticals. I could not find the cost of this drug but a similar drug costs about $400 for a 100 mg 30 day supply. The Vyleesi drug is not taken daily, it’s taken 45 min before sex. There is not a generic.

    • Reply latonya August 16, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Brandy, when haven’t i had a 360 conversation about topics brought up here or on my instagram? This is evident in my post, in my past post, in these comments, and even in today’s post.

      While I understand concerns with pharma, I (like I said in my disclosure) do support the finding and use of it when necessary. Have I used this product? no. Did i ever say I did, or that it was perfect in it’s nature? Absoultley not. But i have 1000% used and relied on the pharmaceutical industry to help care for me when necassary., and I respect the options of others not to when they choose not to. I also share that I went to MY doctor and that readers should go to their health care provider. I did not say find a doctor on the website?
      “…..If you are content on not being sexual, or even identifiy as asexual, then you likely do not have HSDD (but feel free to still discuss it with your doctor). And no, it isn’t a low sex drive that is “just in your head.” It’s real! And it is estimated that 1 in 10 women in the US may have it!”

      The post is long and the entire point is to feel comfortable talking, and yes, because I have found the topic difficult to discuss in general, and this job offer came just at the right time. (on the heels of my book tour and me combing my brain for other stories and expereinces like this” it was the perfect oppurtunity to dive in. The conversation doesn’t end here. And no, I have never, will ever, ploy off the insecurites of others.

      I have also talked about the cost of things in the medical industry extensively (which was also brought on by a personal experience) and don’t feel like a cost specific point is relavant to the overall conversation. But do find that in general, yes, cost for anything in the field is expensive and 100% on the tips of all of our tongues. But it isn’t my job to touch on every single poin at every single time. But I am doing my best., More than my best to be sensitive, smart and open to the topic while also, doing my job. And my job is always trippled layered in many respects. And I respectfully disagree with you on this. I am proud of the conversation in the comments and the articles recomended and the emails. And will gladly continue the conversation as I always do. Thank you.

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