The pharmaceutical industry thinks it has the solution to the unsatisfying, chronic “mercy sex” dilemma I first described in 2015. But you can count me in as a doubter about the powers of medical science to transform women’s difficulty with sexual desire.
So many women — especially those in heterosexual relationships — have disembodied, almost robotic sex with their partners simply to stop the process of being nagged about being available sexually. I have described how providing a steady diet of mercy sex to one’s partner actually lowers the sense that sex will be pleasurable.
Having mercy sex is a common occurrence among women. As I have noted, a little bit of periodic mercy sex in a relationship in which sex is usually mutually pleasurable will do no harm.
In June, 2018, the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that the “normal” frequency of mercy sex is 2.57 times per 28 days. That isn’t great, but it could be worse. I’ve worked with women who had mercy sex far more frequently than that. And trust me, they come in describing how much they truly hate sex.
Because women who gift their partners a lot of mercy sex usually want sex to be over quickly, they strip the act down to intercourse, plain and simple. No kissing, no caressing, no erotica, no fun.
The kinds of medications that may be prescribed for lack of libido include testosterone [Intrinsa, Libigel), flibanserin (Addyi), and, now, bremelanotide (Vyleesi). Honestly, these drugs have not shown themselves to be powerfully effective. Often, they are cumbersome to fit into one’s lifestyle.
Addyi does not mix well with alcohol, a substance that can be helpful for some women who need to let go of their sexual inhibitions. Vyleesi comes as an injection that women administer at home in the thigh or abdomen at least 45 minutes before anticipated sexual activity.
Personally, that does not sound appealing. It reminds me of getting Novocaine before dental work.
Without using such medications, many people who don’t like sex can learn to like it. Or even love it. Touch is the ground zero of healthy, pleasurable sexuality. I work with women all the time who learn to like sex in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60’s, or 70s. Exploration of neutral or bad associations to touch is a critical assessment tool, so consider using my BodyMap to be honest with yourself about how you feel about touch.
Look at fears of “letting go” and losing control. Be honest, be curious. Explore what some of your blocks may be from reading my book SexSmart.
Women need to learn and employ strategies to feel comfortable with pleasant sensations. Such strategies exist. Rather than pop a pill, consider reading Dr. Lori Brotto’s excellent book on mindfulness and sexual desire
The cost/benefit ratio of using medications to avoid learning about yourself sexually feels like folly to me. Forget magic pills, shots, shortcuts.
But there is hope. And I hope this column will encourage you to tackle your issue with chronic mercy sex
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