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Libido is not the same as erection

Written by Funmi Akingbade - Nigeria

Funmi Akingbade
One of the many reasons lots of couples do not find successful solutions to their erectile challenges is because they somehow confuse libido with erection. Many do not understand that low libido is not the same as erectile dysfunction; so today we shall be looking into this in its fullest details.

Basically, the word libido is used to describe the basic desire for sex or sex drive or the instinct energy or force. In one word, libido is a person's sex drive. Every living animal has libido which is most times seasonal but the human's sex drive or libido is ever present. The libido in both men and women is directly tied to their testosterone. Men have about 40 times as much testosterone as women, and this is why men are generally thought to have a more intense sexual drive and more aggressive sexual behaviour. Males reach the peak of their sex drive in their teens, while females reach it in their thirties. The surge in testosterone hits the male at puberty resulting in a sudden and extreme sex drive and sex desire which reaches its peak in early adolescence, and then drops slowly over the man's lifetime. In contrast, a female's libido increases slowly during adolescence and reaches its peak in her mid-thirties.

Actual testosterone and oestrogens level, which affect a person's sex drive vary considerably. For instance, a woman's desire for sex is correlated to her menstrual cycle, with many women experiencing a heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation, which is her peak fertility period. This cycle has been associated with changes in a woman's testosterone levels during her menstrual cycle. Testosterone levels have a direct impact on a woman's interest in sex. Testosterone levels rise gradually from about the 24th day of a woman's menstrual cycle until ovulation or about the 14th day of the next cycle, and during this period, the woman's desire for sex increases consistently. The 13th day is generally the day with the highest testosterone levels. In the week following ovulation, the testosterone level is in its lowest and as a result, women will experience less interest in sex.

Also, during the week following ovulation, progesterone levels increase, resulting in a woman experiencing difficulty achieving orgasm. Although the last days of the menstrual cycle are marked by a constant testosterone level, women's libido may boost as a result of the thickening of the uterine lining which stimulates nerve endings and makes a woman feel aroused. Also, during these days, oestrogen levels also decline, resulting in a decrease of natural lubrication. Menopause is still considered by the majority as a factor that can cause decreased sex desire in women. 

This is because the levels of oestrogen decrease at menopause and this usually causes a lower interest in sex and vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful. However, the levels of testosterone increase at menopause and this is why some women may experience a contrary effect of an increase in libido and sex drive than when they were in their child-bearing age. Psychologically, the fear of another pregnancy, the pressure of pregnancy, bearing and rearing of children, the stress of being a wife, mother is another major reason for low libido in women. The effect of badly performed female circumcision itself is a reason for low libido also. Aside this psychological effect of rape, wife abuse, ill-informed religious doctrine, barbaric customs and tradition can be a reason for female low libido. 

Breastfeeding, badly performed episiotomy leading to bad and tight scare formation is another leading cause of low libido in women.
Sometimes, it is difficult for some couples to identify low libido and that is why many men confuse it with erectile dysfunction. Loss of libido doesn't usually happen suddenly – it's not like having malaria or typhoid fever where you wake up one morning and you notice fever, aches and tiredness. It can be a gradual process. Though difficult to define precisely, it is a lack of interest in sex for several months.

Please note that frequency of sexual activity is not the best measure of sexual interest, so many circumstances can get in the way of an encounter, even if the desire is there. But if you are in a committed marriage relationship and having sex less often than the norm, let's say about once a week, well, you might ask yourself whether you are happy with things as they are.
If you're not happy about your loss of libido, researchers agree that it is best to tackle it fast. To help identify the early warning signs, see whether you answer the following questions true or false: Does touching take place only in the bedroom? Sex does not give you feelings of connection and sharing anymore, one of you is always the initiator and the other feels pressured and reluctantly gives in, you no longer look forward to sex, sex is more mechanical and routine than passionate, you almost never have sexual thoughts or fantasies about your spouse, you now have sex once or twice a month at most. Now if you answered true to many or most of these questions, you may be on your way to losing sexual desire.

Understanding the various causes is the first step to finding the appropriate resolution. Husbands don't like to talk about it; neither do their wives. But loss of libido in men or inhibited sexual desire stresses a marriage more than any other sexual dysfunction. Losing interest in sex may not be as common an occurrence for men as it is for women: It affects about 15-16 per cent of men, and at least double that many women. But when men lose interest in sex, it scares them more than women. This is because their masculinity is so linked to their sexuality and that awareness is in itself very threatening.
Loss of libido also makes men unhappy about the rest of their lives than it does women. Only 23 per cent of men with loss of libido say they still feel very happy about life in general versus 46 per cent of women. Simply put, it bothers men more because their erection and their ejaculation is like life to them.

Generally, stress leads to loss of libido. Stress such as job stress and self-esteem are also big factors. If a man's performance at work is challenged, and he doesn't feel he is achieving or doesn't feel self-worth, he often numbs himself sexually. Desire is a healthy form of entitlement when husbands don't feel deserving, and they shut down automatically in all things. Many medical conditions can cause loss of libido. As a matter of fact, the quality of the relationship is an important part of libido to all men. Although it is generally believed that quality of marriage relationship is more important to women, the percentage is the same. The difference is just in the way it is being displayed both by women and men. It is not only women who respond happily to a good marital relationship, men do also. Problems such as anger and disappointment often seen in the bedroom are a signal to other problems in the marriage relationship.

Age is one of the most common causes of lowered sex drive. As people age, their sex drive often lessens, but there are many other reasons. Sometimes, a lowered sex drive may be the result of an illness or drug abuse. Alcoholism is an especially common cause of lowered sex drive. Certain medications may cause a lack of libido in both men and women such as antidepressants, contraceptives, some anti diabetic drugs, some antihypertensive drugs and some anti erectile dysfunction drugs.
Some physical factors that can affect libido are endocrine issues in males; even the frequency of ejaculations affects the libido. Being very underweight or malnourished can cause a low libido due to disruptions from normal hormonal levels. Anaemia is particularly a cause of lack of libido in women due to the loss of iron during their menstrual cycles. Smoking, alcohol abuse and drug abuse may also cause disruptions in the hormonal balances and therefore lead to a decreased libido.

Low libido shouldn't be confused with erectile dysfunction. This is the reason why some medications such as some aphrodisiacs, herbs or enhancers normally prescribed for ED don't usually heighten, increase, improve or boost sex drive. Ironically for some categories of husbands, the wrong kind of respect can cause loss of libido. For some husbands, the very love and respect they have for their wives especially after the birth of a baby can become an obstacle to sexual desire. A lot of husbands find it difficult to be sexually aroused to the mother of their children, especially after witnessing normal vaginal delivery, and the stress of birth pains. Sometime the resulting exhaustion of the co-care of a baby or young children with their wives also sap out the libido of some husbands. This can sap libido for men as surely as it does for women.

Note that it has been found that low libido in men is a much more common complaint. Men who have a reduced sex drive don't want to talk about it, and the wives don't want to talk about it either. The wife is afraid that if she says much about it, people will think that her husband is either gay, or she's a 'bad lady.' She also fears that people will say she is unattractive to stir her husband's passions. And many husbands have the myth that they're supposed to want it all the time, anywhere, but this is the time and age of high information. You either see a sex therapist or a neurologist or a medical practitioner for help.

Couples need not feel they have to have sex a certain number of times a week to have a good sex life. The best and biggest low libido remedy is just do it. Once the more obvious causes for a man's low libido have been identified and eliminated, couples must often work through differences in their relationship to arrive at a solution. When your wife is interested, just do it, this has cured a lot of low libido cases.

For couples who have been together longer, anger often stands in the way of one or both partners' sex drive. By not dealing with marital anger immediately, it can be a big leading cause of low libido. One possible solution is some long, honest talks. Ideally, couples should have sex about thrice a week but assigning a number to normal frequency of sex may not work for some couples considering their temperament, age, health stability, nature of work, general belief and the type of marriage relationship they operate in. And couples should always do what they are happy about and always think about how happy the person next to you is in bed.

But it is very paramount to note that the loss of oestrogen and testosterone following menopause can lead to changes in a woman's body and sexual drive. Some categories of women in menopausal and postmenopausal may notice that they're not as easily aroused, and they may be less sensitive to touching and stroking. That can lead to less interest in sex. Also, lower levels of oestrogen can cause a drop in blood supply to the vagina. That can affect vaginal lubrication, causing the vagina to be too dry for comfortable sex — but there's help for that. Menopause does not lower sex drive in all women. Rather, many postmenopausal women say they've got an improved sex drive. That may be due to less anxiety linked to a fear of pregnancy. Also, many postmenopausal women often have fewer child-rearing responsibilities, allowing them to relax and enjoy intimacy with their husbands.

But for some women who do not want sex during menopause, it is still advisable to still take time for intimacy. You can still show your husband love and affection without having sex. Enjoy your time together: take walks, eat dinner out, or give each other back rubs. This gradually leads to good sex. And to improve your physical intimacy, you can consider experimenting with erotic videos or books, and changes to sexual routines. Use distraction techniques to boost relaxation and ease anxiety. These can include erotic or non-erotic fantasies, exercises with sex, and music, videos, or television. Have fun with foreplay, such as sensual massage or oral sex. These activities can make you feel more comfortable and improve communication between you and your husband. Minimise any pain you might have by using sexual positions that allow you to control the depth of penetration. You may also want to take a warm bath before sex to help you relax, and use vaginal lubricants to help ease pain caused by friction. Tell your husband what's comfortable and what's not.

It is needful for both husband and wife suffering from low libido to always try to focus on the last time they had real good passionate earth-shaking sex together. Taking just five minutes out of your busy day to replay the specifics of your last really great sexual encounter will whet your appetite and instantly increase your libido. One of the reasons many wives lose their libido is when they constantly compare their bodies' configuration with some unrealistic body ideals; you will definitely feel unsexy. Remember some of those body types are un-attainable; they are artificial in most cases and yours is just very natural and fine.

A leading cause of loss of sexual interest and drive is the constant bombardment of old night wears both from the man and the woman. So, buy new under things. Throw away those ripped, faded, you've-had-them-for-four-years granny panties and invest in some new underwear. The sexier, the better new bikinis, boy shorts, or even basic briefs can make you feel special.

Never forget to stop worrying. When you're focused on worry, the last thing on your mind is feeling sexy. Husband in particular should see the bedroom as for three things: friendship arena, sleep and sex. TV, iPhone, laptop etc are life's distractions, they reduce friend-shipness, reduce hugs and keep you from being fully in touch with real life, never mind anyone else and reduce sex drive. When this persists, low libido sets in practically. Stay in a room without these gadgets for one year, you will notice that your sex drive will improve; your libido will be high all because you are friendlier, communicate better, cuddle frequently and have sex often. And if you can exist without them, try to unplug for a few minutes each day so you can plug in to what's important, your marriage relationship. Focus on just one activity- just gisting together. Tuning out from the world helps make you a priority, which in turn reminds you just how lovable you are.

Nothing kills sensuality, sexuality and sex drive than a room full of baby stuff: toys, diaper bags and crayon-drawn art. Have a space in your house that's for daddy and mummy only, so you can focus on yourselves. This room should have nothing kid-oriented in it. No toys, no pictures of their adorable faces. It should be an environment for you as lovers, sweethearts instead of mom and dad's room. No! It's better captioned with a more erotic name such as the greatest sweethearts' room.

Both husband and wife should have a positive mental attitude and keep their stress level low. If you feel good and self-confident, you may feel more sexual and attractive to your spouse. Remember, prolonged stress can lead to a diminished interest in sex.

Consider special foods and supplements that claim to increase libido in man and woman. Natural supplements can help increase blood flow and sometimes help fight vaginal dryness. Some natural supplements that may increase libido include: vitamin, zinc, vitamin C, arginine, vitamin A, vitamin C, Beta-carotene, vitamin B6, and vitamin B complex. These nutrients may help to boost sperm count, improve sperm motility, enhance prostate gland function, increase testosterone production and create a healthier nervous system. Some foods that may increase libido include: Celery, raw oysters, bananas, avocado, nuts, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, eggs, liver, figs, garlic, pumpkin and chocolate. Certain foods and natural supplements such as these may add much needed nutrients and minerals to your diet, but they are unlikely to make a bigger impact on your sex drive and sexual performance.



Whose duty is it?

Sexual duty at home, is it the sole responsibility of the man alone or the woman or both? If my husband is not satisfying me sexually and he is blaming me for not turning him on, what can I do?

Mrs. Ajodele from Kotangora
Sexual task at home is the responsibility of both married partners. I would suggest both parties sit down, make reappraisals, and reach a harmony without prejudice. Ask yourselves questions such as, 'what am I doing that is turning you off?' 'Which areas do you want me to improve?' Make sure that the environment must be a peaceful and calm one, when both of you are not under any tension or stress.

Stitching was poorly done

Dear Funmi, my last baby was very big, I had to be cut and stitched in the hospital. Unfortunately, the stitching was poorly done and as a result of this, I do have terrible pains any time I am having sex with my husband. What do I do?

Mrs. Odiagbo Omolo from Sapele
Please, you have to see a gynaecologist immediately. Do not wait for a day or two, see him fast. After your visit to the gynaecologist, kindly make sure you do Kegel exercise, pelvic wall exercise and sit bath for a long time. Also, take a lot of turmeric and garlic in your meals.

Foreplay revisited

Hello Funmi, my husband is an ardent reader of your column but he is not good at foreplay. Please, can you re-visit the issue of foreplay?

Mrs. Murtala from Bauchi
This is building up each other's excitement before the man enters the woman. That is, both husband and wife arouse each other before the husband actually puts his penis inside the vagina of his wife; and this is done by holding each other lovingly, caressing each other tenderly, deep tongue kissing, carefully fondling each other's sexual organs, touching and rubbing in a loving manner.

Let your spouse know your sensitive areas; for majority of ladies, it is the clitoris, the breasts, especially the nipples and let him know that it takes time before your sexual organs respond, especially the clitoris. Make him kiss and use his tongue to caress your breasts, your nipples, neck gently and lovingly, then later your genitals. As this goes on, the nipples of your breasts are erect and the clitoris increases in size. Caressing should not be done in a hurried way. Only lust and self-gratification are done in haste. Take the time to fully enjoy each other! It is important to understand timing in lovemaking. There should be a gradual building up and intensifying of emotions and sensations. Do not stop or let up the stimulation once it begins, but continue in an ever-increasing manner of arousal.

The whole body of a loving couple is an erotic zone. For the men, the nape of the neck, the back of the ear, the breast, the armpit, the navel, the inner parts of the thigh, the groin, the pubic hair, the shaft of the penis, the eye of the penis are especially their most sensitive areas. All these should be kissed tenderly or caressed gently with the hand and tongue of the wife. If the man's skin is too dry, you can get a bottle of Pears baby lotion and seductively rub both bodies; it will send sexual signals to the whole body. The female erotic zone includes the base of the neck, the base of the hair, the lips, the armpit, the breasts especially the nipples, the tummy, the navel, the inner parts of the thigh, the pubic hair, the clitoris, the lips of the vagina and the inner parts of the vagina.

All these could be tenderly touched and caressed with the man's hands or the tongue. Caressing various areas of your partner's body shows an interest in the whole person.
In foreplay, the husband and the wife should talk freely with themselves. They should tell each other what they want. While caressing one another without a rush, it is advisable for the wife to take a comfortable position with legs apart so that the man will be able to gently play with her genitals. As her husband caresses her, she in turn plays with his nipple, the shaft of his penis, the eye of the penis, the scrotum (some men like it when their scrotum is fondled with). A wife should lovingly participate actively in caressing, kissing and fondling with her husband's body. While doing this, the woman becomes excited and produces fluid that helps to lubricate her vagina and makes entry of the penis easy. If the wife has a dry vagina, she may either use artificial lubricant, or use her tongue to lubricate the tip of her husband's penis before the husband enters her. This makes thrusting in and out very easy and painless. Alternatively, she may lovingly tell her husband to use his own tongue to lubricate her vagina since the mouth is always wet with saliva. However, this must be done under very high mouth hygiene.

Husbands, most wives love the inner part of their vagina to be caressed with their husband's finger; wives are advised to tell their husbands their sexual preferences and not be shy about it. But care must be taken by the husbands not to get the wives infected by dirty fingernails. While the husband is 'fingering' his wife, the wife should give him loving direction on how she would love to be caressed with her husband's fingers. The 'fingering' should be directed towards the location of the clitoris to get the it stimulated and excited. Husbands should note that the clitoris should not be rubbed too hard; vigorous rubbing always turns the woman off.

Money issues getting in the way

My husband and I have separate bank accounts. This did not bother me initially, because we agreed that we should combine our finances. But now, I make more money than him; and when it is time for both of us to pay for any purchase, his decision is getting to be a drag on our relationship. He spends money anyhow and I am not very comfortable with this. This has killed our sex desire for each other. As a matter of fact, I only hear of my husband's hyper high libido among the girls around rather than with me. Should I just accept things as they are or keep trying to combine our money?

Hope you are not making it so obvious that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. The man may be poor but most of our husbands read in-between the lines; so kindly ask for wisdom on how to handle this dicey issue. Then also in most cases, one person will handle the bills and keep track of the finances. If you two are paying separate bills and expenses, it is easy to lose control of your spending. The best remedy is to set up three checking accounts. The first is the main account to pay all the household bills. Determine how much each of you will deposit into this account from your pay cheques. Even when his own contribution is a kobo, let him put something down. The other two accounts are the ones you are currently using. Instead of paying bills with those accounts, use them for miscellaneous items you spend money on. Make sure you keep enough money in them so you do not have to dip into your joint household account.

If your husband procrastinates on opening the main account, then you take the initiative, go to your bank, and begin the process. Then make a list of all the bills you will pay through this account; do all you can to get the support of your husband because success in life requires being smart.

'My wife is about leaving'

I am one of your ardent readers. I have a pressing problem that is about to scatter my marriage of three years. I do have quick ejaculation and I cannot go more than one round of sex. My wife is about walking out of our marriage. Kindly tell me what drugs to use to win her back.

Mr. Sunrise Hormalu

'I lost four girls to premature ejaculation'

I lost four girls that I would have married to premature ejaculation. I hardly read newspapers except for sports. I stumbled on your third series on premature ejaculation which you published in the Saturday Punch of August 16th 2008. I almost shed tears because my case is very critical. I call it 'pre-premature ejaculation.' I ejaculate 10 seconds immediately after penetration. At times while fixing condoms, I will ejaculate with the condom half fixed. I feel very disappointed each time it happens, so I have decided not to get married until I have found a solution because of the shame and frustration. Please ma, kindly help me out. I do not want to have any problem with my marital life.

Mr. Psalms Victor

Is it true?

Since having our two children, my husband and I have lost our sex drives and have mutually agreed sex is no longer important. Is there anything wrong with this?

Umman Uyimere

If you are both being honest, I see nothing wrong with your chastity agreement. Keep your options open, however, since sexual interest varies throughout seasons of life. Having children can certainly impact your sexual interests. The fatigue alone could ruin your romance. Worries of having another baby or being unable to support your family's needs may also contribute. If there are underlying conflicts about your sexual intimacy, investigate those.

My major concern is that sexual intimacy and physical pleasure are significant parts of human needs. Denying their expression may cause either or both of you to become susceptible to outside sexual attractions. Keep a close watch on your hearts and model physical affection for your children. Good family planning will also help.

Master and Johnson Tips

  1. Relax and make sure you are free from distractions. This is not a good time to try fixing your mind on non-sexual issues, in order not to ejaculate. Concentrate.
  2. You and your partner can engage in foreplay, for you to get aroused.
  3. Signal your partner when you are about to ejaculate.
  4. At that point, she should stop stimulating you and apply firm but gentle pressure at the point where the head meets the shaft of the male organ.
  5. The pressure can be applied for about 15 seconds.
  6. She should then let go and you can both rest for 30 seconds before repeating the technique.
Kegel's PC Exercise Tips
  1. Urinate before the exercise and do not do the exercise while urinating. This is not advisable. However, you can use urination to locate the muscles as described in the main article.
  2. Squeeze your PC muscles shut as tightly as you can and hold them for like 10 seconds.

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