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.
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