Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding YOur Lost Libido by Andrew GoldsteinReclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding YOur Lost Libido by Andrew Goldstein

Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding YOur Lost Libido

byAndrew Goldstein, Marianne Brandon, Marianne Brandon Ph.D.

Paperback | June 9, 2009

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I'm so busy and tired, how can I find time for sex?
How can I go from mommy one minute to passionate lover the next?
What medicines or natural herbs can I take to improve my libido?

At some point in their lives, most women experience a decline in their sexual desire. Yet despite the vast number of books devoted to sex, surprisingly few focus on the problem of low libido. Fewer still offer any practical advice to the woman who has lost her sex drive and longs to find it again.

Reclaiming Desire presents the holistic approach that gynecologist Andrew Goldstein and clinical psychologist Marianne Brandon—co-founders of the Sexual Wellness Center in Annapolis, Maryland—use to successfully treat women with low libido. Capitalizing on their combined medical and psychological expertise, they reveal how a complex set of physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual factors—as well as specific life-changing events such as marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, divorce, and menopause—can affect female sex drive. Reading this book, women will come to understand that low libido isn't "all in their heads"—or all in their bodies, for that matter. The problem is real and it's diverse—but it's curable.
ANDREW GOLDSTEIN, MD, and MARIANNE BRANDON, PHD, specialize in treating women's sexual health problems. Dr. Goldstein divides his time between Annapolis, Maryland, and New York City. Dr. Brandon resides in Annapolis.
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Title:Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding YOur Lost LibidoFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.32 × 5.47 × 0.85 inPublished:June 9, 2009Publisher:Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/RodaleLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1605298263

ISBN - 13:9781605298269

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CHAPTER 1RETHINKING LOW LIBIDOWe are a culture fascinated by sex. In fact, sex may be the hottest commodity driving our economy. We use it to sell everything from chewing gum to cars.Sex can be traded for power, attention, money, and control on both a societal and personal level. It can add excitement, drama, mystery, danger, and intrigue to our existence.For most of us, sex represents much more than procreation or even physical pleasure. Particularly for women, feeling sexually attractive is an integral part of self-esteem. How a woman feels about her body and her sexuality helps determine how she views herself in general.This is why a decline in sexual desire results in significant distress for many women. It not only can extinguish positive sexual experiences, it also can undermine a marital or romantic relationship by negatively affecting the level of physical and emotional intimacy between a woman and her partner. In a more general sense, it can prevent a woman from getting all that she wants from her life.Low libido shows no regard for age, ethnicity, or lifestyle. It affects women who have children as well as those who do not; women who consider themselves to be attractive as well as those who are unhappy with or critical of their appearance. Low libido is common even among women who clearly love their partners. It affects singles, newlyweds, and those who have been married for decades.Among the goals of this book is to dispel the myth that low libido is rare and relegated to just one type of woman. The simple truth is this: Most women report a decline in their sexual desire at some point in their lives. So if you don't want sex as much as you used to, you are not alone.In fact, some health professionals believe that diminished sexual desire has become a new epidemic in our society. Researchers are just beginning to investigate this phenomenon statistically. According to recent estimates, more than one-third of women in the United States have problems with their sex drives. Even this statistic may be low, as people may be embarrassed to respond to such personal interview questions honestly.Myths and MisunderstandingsIn cases of low libido, most health professionals try to identify a single, specific physical or psychological cause. And they tend to attribute the apparent increase in sexual "dysfunction" among women to the fast-paced, stressful lifestyle that is the modern norm.We disagree, at least partially. In our opinion, a decline in sexual desire is neither a diagnosable nor a pathological condition. What's more, though the stress and demands inherent in our lifestyles never help a woman's libido, we believe that the reasons behind a loss of interest in sex are much more complex than that.We propose that a decline in sexual desire is a normal and perhaps even an appropriate response to the complicated challenges inherent in life and intimate relationships. Rather than something to be ashamed of, it is a sign of a fundamental imbalance in our lives. This imbalance can have any number of causes--for example, the multiple responsibilities at home and in the workplace that leave little time for pleasure; a simmering anger at our partners for ignoring our needs; or old belief patterns, such as "Mature women aren't sexual and don't really enjoy making love." Chances are, if your excitement for sex is diminished, your excitement for life in general is compromised.Many women recall feeling so sexual and turned on by their partners early in their relationships that they just can't grasp feeling differently now. Our society perpetuates a myth that sexual desire should remain consistently strong in a loving couple. So when women don't want sex, they tend to assume that they are somehow "abnormal." Further complicating matters, they are often too ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it or to seek help. Their reluctance to open up only creates a sense of self- consciousness and isolation.It doesn't help that we're surrounded by people who appear to have satisfying sex lives. Neighbors, coworkers, and friends--even complete strangers who walk hand in hand--all seem to enjoy healthy sexual relationships. Popular movies feature exciting sex scenes in which women are overcome with passion for their partners. Song lyrics describe people turned on by each other, flirting with each other, lusting after each other. Ads in magazines and on TV show sexy models passionately embracing their partners in what appears to be a prelude to sex. One popular commercial even hints that a woman will have an orgasm just by using a certain brand of shampoo.Everywhere we look, we are presented with images of passionate people wanting each other and wanting sex. It's no wonder that women with low libido are reluctant to talk about their plight. Despite the frequent jokes about the demise of sex after marriage, few women feel comfortable openly admitting that they don't want to make love to their partners. Often they're reluctant to tell even their closest friends that they've lost interest in sex. As with any issue, when we remain silent about our pain, we prevent ourselves from healing.Body, Mind--And MoreAs a gynecologist and a clinical psychologist who see female clients on a daily basis, we realize that many women want and expect more for themselves sexually. We opened our Sexual Wellness Center in 1999 to respond to women's concerns about a variety of sexual issues, including low libido.What do we mean by sexual wellness? We interpret it as a holistic concept, with four primary dimensions: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. All four must be present and in balance for a person to feel "well" sexually.We believe that applying this holistic approach is essential to fully and accurately evaluating women who are having problems with their libidos. When a patient tells us that her interest in sex is waning, our first step is to explore the following:* Her physical health, including underlying medical problems, hormone levels, medications, and lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise* Her emotional well-being--whether she is depressed, stressed, or anxious, and whether she is satisfied with her life, her marriage, and herself* Her intellectual fulfillment, both in her private life and in the life she shares with her partner and family* Her spiritual beliefs and needs, and their impact on her sexualityBy identifying and treating problems in each of these core areas, we help make sex more gratifying for each woman. Once this is achieved, sexual desire often takes care of itself.The majority of our patients come to us because of low libido. Many of them have attempted to get help elsewhere but saw no significant improvement in their sex drives. We suspect that most conventional treatments fail because their focus is exclusively physical (adjusting a woman's hormone levels, for example) or psychological (examining a woman's sexual history or current emotional state). They don't take into account the interplay of these and other factors that collectively shape a woman's sexual desire.From our clinical experience, we've come to understand libido as a function of all that defines a woman--including her body, her relationships, and her lifestyle. This is why so many cases of low libido have such complex, and surprising, causes. The good news is that most of these causes are completely treatable.It Isn't Just "Sparks"More often than not, the women who come to our Sexual Wellness Center are longing for what might best be described as spontaneous desire. That is, they want to find themselves suddenly and without reason experiencing the sort of intense sensations that indicate they want to have sex. These sensations may take many forms--warmth or tingling in the genitals, frequent positive thoughts about sex, or perhaps some undefined physical or emotional need.Unfortunately, spontaneous desire is a misnomer. What our clients remember as spontaneous was anything but. Rather, their feelings of desire kicked in with some sort of stimulus--perhaps an attractive man walking by, a romantic scene in a movie, hot water cascading down their bodies as they showered, or a partner's loving caress. Whatever it was, they were receptive to it at that moment, and they responded by wanting to make love. For most women in mature relationships, this is the nature of desire: Rather than occurring spontaneously, it is a reaction to a stimulus.Sometimes our clients find this reality disappointing. They would rather experience sexual desire as effortless and dependable, like hunger. In fact, it can be effortless--if they allow themselves to be open to sexual stimuli, which are all around them.For most of our clients, the goal of treatment is not to experience spontaneous desire. Rather, it is to relearn how to be open and responsive to a sexual stimulus--that is, their partners--long enough for their desire to build. Admittedly, this takes commitment and effort. For a multitude of reasons, which we explore in the following pages, women sometimes shut down sexually. They must work to want sex again.Your Journey Begins HereYou cannot simply will yourself to experience a desire for sex. Like joy or peace, it is a feeling generated from deep within you. The goal of our Sexual Wellness Center, and this book, is to help women who have had very fulfilling sex lives recapture the balance that is necessary for their passion to return.We attend to the whole woman--body, mind, and spirit--using a combination of conventional medical interventions, naturopathy, and individual and couples psychotherapy. We have found this holistic approach to be essential to helping a woman find her lost libido.We've written this book to provide a path for women like you, who wish to embark on a more meaningful and fulfilling journey to reclaim sexual desire. Along the way, we'll explore how the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of your self combine to influence your sexuality. We'll explain how these dimensions can slip out of balance, and how restoring this balance will not only reinvigorate your sex drive but also lay the foundation for a more stimulating, satisfying life.In working with our clients, we've found it helpful to conceptualize sexual desire by using the analogy of an onion. There are many layers to an onion. Those near the outside may be larger and more visible, but those underneath are just as important to the onion's integrity. We must break through the thin, sometimes damaged outer layers to get to the more substantive inner ones.Although the purpose of the onion's skin is to protect its contents, we must remove the skin to get to the more vulnerable bulb inside. Eating the onion with its skin on would dramatically alter our experience of it.Like the onion, a woman's sexuality consists of multiple layers, some more apparent than others. The outer layers serve as defenses, protecting from uncomfortable emotions like shame, guilt, and fear. The inner layers consist of the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that shape a woman's desire for sex. We must examine the more obvious layers before we can delve into the inner, more mysterious ones.All aspects of your sexuality are important and influential in your ability to receive and give sexual pleasure. You can access the inner, more potent layers of your sexual desire only if you first remove the protective shell placed around it.For some women, removing this protective shell--if only momentarily--can be the most difficult step toward reclaiming their sexual desire. It may involve a level of vulnerability with themselves and their partners that they would prefer to avoid. Self-examination can be a challenging, even frightening process. However, the understanding that comes from self- examination offers extraordinary rewards. Give yourself the gift of exploring and taking responsibility for your sexual desire.