Men's Health: Reviving Mate's Sex Drive

Reason #3: You've stopped chasing her. In a new relationship, a man's testosterone is usually driving him to fulfill his sexual desires. So he'll find all sorts of ways — gifts, compliments, extra attention — to make a woman feel special enough to open herself to him sexually. In turn, she feels desired, loved, and trusting — all of which makes her more amenable to lovemaking.

As the relationship ages, though, a man's work, family, and hobbies often take up more and more of the time he used to devote to treating his mate like a queen. This doesn't mean that he's no longer interested, but to his wife it may seem that he no longer desires her in that special way. So she becomes less interested in sex, which makes him even less interested in doing the things that made her want him in the first place.

What to do: Do something, man! Come home early from work and surprise her by fixing dinner; hold her hand in front of your buddies; let her know that even after all this time together, you still think she's the coolest thing going and that you're the luckiest guy in the world for being able to spin in her orbit. Then do both of you a favor: Don't slack off by being romantic only when you want sex; she'll see through that in a heartbeat. If this woman is the love of your life, treat her that way even when you're not in the mood.

Motherhood and Sexuality

Reason #4: She's a new mom. There's nothing like a baby to derail your sex life. The first months of motherhood are a roller coaster of emotional highs, exhausted lows, and powerful epiphanies about what it is to be a woman, a wife, and a mother. An increase in prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, is one reason for a drop in sexual interest, but there are other causes. "A woman may have confusing new feelings about different parts of her body, which until now she may have thought of only in a sexual way," says Karen Kleiman, director of the Postpartum Stress Center in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. Fatigue and stress, her changing body and self-image, vaginal dryness due to hormone changes, and worries about becoming pregnant again can also significantly affect libido.

What to do: Take it slowly. Even though most women can have sex four to six weeks after delivery, it often takes longer for them to feel physically and emotionally ready to rock your cradle. Give your wife space, but keep talking, too, says Kleiman. "Discuss alternatives to intercourse — holding, cuddling, and other consistent forms of affection. Or maybe you'll decide you don't mind putting sex on hold for a while. The key is for the man not to feel rejected, and for the woman not to feel there's something wrong with her."

Make Her Feel Good

Reason #5: She's depressed. A decline in sexual interest is one of the markers clinicians use to diagnose depression. Your girl can have what seems to be the greatest life in the world and still be felled by a sense of bleakness and despair.

What to do: If you suspect that your partner has more than a passing state of the blues, the worst thing you can do is harangue her about her lack of sex drive. Instead, tell her how much you love her, and acknowledge her depression in a sympathetic manner. "The next step is a psychiatric or psychological evaluation, including a complete physical examination," says Dr. Sager.

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