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HSDD, BFFs and you (Or, talking to your friends about hypoactive sexual desire disorder)

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Let’s say you’re sitting at a table in your favorite watering hole, having a night out with your closest girlfriends. The conversation has (as it often does) turned to sexual intimacy. And whatever the particulars—partners, positions, preferences—there’s always one overarching assumption when the topic is sex: everybody wants it.

Well…almost.

Because what if you don’t? What if you haven’t felt that urge in months? In fact, you go out of your way to avoid sex? And that’s really frustrating for you? There you are, hearing all the R- and X-rated anecdotes…but not contributing any. Because the only thing on your mind, sex-wise, is that you’re worried you might have HSDD.

You’re worried because you know that HSDD is an actual medical condition. That it‘s the most common female sexual dysfunction, affecting approximately 1 out of 10 women in the US. And you also know that it can have a substantial negative impact on a woman’s health and quality of life.

But, geez. Who wants to hear that?

Your BFFs.

It’s time to woman up
At unblush, we believe community is powerful. That includes your own personal community. Your friends. And if you’re frustrated by having no sex drive, it’s time to reach out to them. They might be able to help if they know what’s going on—and not going on—with you.

And if you’re worried that they might be all judge-y about it? Don’t be. Remember: these are your friends. And true friends aren’t going to let your low sex drive lower their opinion of you. Let them know how frustrated you are by your lack of sexual desire. Here are some reasons why.

“Woman is woman’s natural ally”
The Greek playwright Euripides wrote that over 2,000 years ago. It turns out he was onto something. Not to get all science-y, but there’s actually an important theory in psychology related to this very topic. Called “tend and befriend,” the basic idea is that females naturally seek out other females—the ones they’re emotionally close to—for support during times of stress. Does your frustrating low sexual desire check that box? If so, how about reaching out to some befriended females? After all, it seems it’s only natural. 🙂

(BTW, Euripides may not have considered this, but it’s worth pointing out that your “natural allies” don’t necessarily have to be female. Friends come in all gender identities. We’d also like to remind you of the supportive resource you have right here: this website and the community of “natural allies” connected by it. We’re here for you, 24-7.)

Talking more = blushing less?
But even when you want to talk about it, low sex drive in women can be a difficult topic for a lot of us. In fact, a common reason that women who have frustrating low sexual desire don’t seek treatment for it is that they’re too embarrassed to talk about it.

In one survey of premenopausal women with frustrating low sexual desire, 73% said that they’d never told their healthcare provider(s) about it. They also said that embarrassment was a big reason for their silence.2

If embarrassment about sexual dysfunction is an issue for you, maybe confiding in your close friends could help you get past it. Before you tell them anything, tell yourself this: “It’s just sex. We talk about it all the time. We ought to be able to talk about not wanting it. And missing the desire for it.” If your friends have offered you a sympathetic ear about other issues in your life, why wouldn’t they do that now?

You might not be the only one
We said earlier that it’s estimated that about 1 in 10 US women has HSDD. (That’s the same percentage as US women who have diabetes, BTW. And we hear about that all the time.) So the odds seem pretty good, then, that someone you know also has frustrating low sexual desire. Maybe someone sitting at your table is sharing your discomfort as well as your nachos. Who knows? You might, if you bring it up.  

Keeping it to yourself isn’t helping anyone
Millions of women with HSDD suffer with it in silence. Some of them keep it quiet for years. If you go that route, all you’re doing is prolonging your frustration—and any other negative emotional states that may accompany it. What are those? Here are some examples from surveys of women with HSDD:

  • 92% said that they felt they were letting their partner down1
  • 69% said it had affected their body image (and not in a good way)2
  • 57% said it made them feel ashamed1
  • 51% said it made them feel less confident2

I know that I’m not the only one experiencing this problem, but I don’t see anybody else out there saying anything about it. And it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.”

Nicole, a woman with frustrating low sexual desire who has not been diagnosed with HSDD

And while you’re at it, here’s something else to ponder: It may be that your girlfriends have already noticed that there’s something bothering you. So why not let them in on it so they can help you figure out how to deal with it? Maybe they can help you find a healthcare provider who’s a good fit. Go with you to your appointment, if you want. Help you research treatment options. Just having someone to talk with about frustrating low sexual desire can be really valuable in itself…

…but only if you say something.

Get a guide for talking to your doctor about low sexual desire

Having a productive conversation
So, have you decided to share your frustrating low sexual desire and intimacy issues with your friends? If so, it’s a good idea to put some thought into how you’re going to do it. The group dynamics may be challenging. You’ll want to take into consideration the personalities in your posse.

Group discussion or 1-on-1?
Frustrating low sex drive is a serious subject. How do your friends best respond to that sort of revelation? When you have a group discussion, do they tend to stay focused and serious in nature? If so, that’s great, because it can help instill a sense of sisterhood and purpose. But if the personalities involved tend to veer off topic or become jokey in a way that minimizes the nature of the problem? That may just make you feel more isolated. (And we doubt that’s what your friends intend.)

If you think that might happen, then individual conversations may be the way to go. Telling a friend that you have a serious personal issue may be enough to get the ball rolling. Just be honest and direct. Let her demonstrate why you chose her to be your friend in the first place.

One more thing
Another thing to share with your friends is this website. Use the HSDD resources at unblush to help you explain what you’re going through and how it makes you feel. Our community and yours have at least one important thing in common: we want to help.

References
  1. Leiblum SR, Koochaki PE, Rodenberg CA, et al. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: US results from the Women’s International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS). Menopause. 2006;13(1):46‐56.
  2. Kingsberg S. Attitudinal survey of women living with low sexual desire. J Womens Health. 2014;23(10):817-823.

About the Author
unblush
unblush is a community of women speaking up about the impact of loss of sexual desire—and ways to confront it.
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