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 Why I Stopped Loving Sex...
My first response was that maybe I had been wrong in liking sex so much in the first place • 

Why I Stopped Loving Sex
(and drugs)

By Keeley R. McNamara

Not to be lewd, but I really like sex. I mean I really love it, maybe even too much. Sex is my life. Literally. I majored in Human Sexuality in college and I am a Sexual Health Educator by profession. The majority of my days are filled with talking about, teaching about, and continuing to learn about sex. I love sex as a science, but I also really love having sex. I always have. I love myself when I have sex. I love the person that I can be...self assured, in control (or out of control as the case may be), totally wild and crazy me.  

That's why it was particularly disconcerting when I stopped loving sex. Not only did I stop loving it, I actually started to hate it. I hated it in a don't-touch-me, get- away-from-me, I-think-you-should-sleep-on-the-couch, my-sex-toys-are-getting- dusty, I-wouldn't-know-an-orgasm-if-it-hit-me-in-the-face kind of way. At first I just ignored it. Maybe it was just hormonal changes. Maybe I'm getting old. It's okay to not want to have sex all the time...plenty of people don't like sex the way I do, and they still have healthy sex lives. Maybe I'm just slowing down to the pace of most other people. I'll adjust.  

That's a lie. This is definitely not something I can adjust to.

Then I started blaming it on my boyfriend (who else). Maybe he had changed things up without telling me.   Maybe we just weren't as close as we used to be and my sex drive was telling me it was time to get out. Maybe, but that didn't feel right either. I mean, this is the man whose sex drive was only matched by my own. This is the man whom with I coined the word "sexover." (The way you feel/look after a particularly long stretch of serious sex. It's similar to a hangover but with less vomit and more orgasms. Used in a sentence:  "Maybe if I'd stopped having sex earlier, I wouldn't have this wicked sexover today.") Plus our relationship had never been stronger in other areas. I was stumped.

Then one night, during yet another uninteresting romp with my boyfriend, I started crying. (Ladies, for future reference...nothing freaks a man out more than when you start sobbing during sex.) It's not that the sex was terrible, or that it hurt, or felt bad...it just didn't feel like anything. I felt like a receptacle. I wasn't attached to my vagina at all. Me, the one who was always waxing poetic about the virtue of loving your vagina didn't care about mine anymore. It was doing nothing for me and I was freaking out. 

The next morning I was on my way to my emergency therapy session (if crying during sex doesn't necessitate an emergency session, I don't know what does) when I stopped at the bodega on the corner to get a bottle of water so I could take my Paxil. That's when I remembered the soothing voice in the commercial.  "Some people may experience decreased sex drive while taking Paxil." My relationship was not falling apart. I had started antidepressants a few months earlier and by the time I was stable on them, my sex drive was gone.

My doctor and the commercials told me that antidepressants might cause sexual side effects, but no one had ever explained what that would mean for me.   For men, it's pretty obvious when they have sexual side effects. Not being able to have an erection is cause for panic in our society. Erectile dysfunction is a billion dollar industry while many women still feel bad about simply having sexual desires, let alone losing them. My first response was that maybe I had been wrong in liking sex so much in the first place. If I, whose job it is to encourage women to embrace their sexuality, allowed society to make me question my own, I can not imagine what other women going through this must be thinking. Everyone knows what drug to take for male sexual side effects, but most people do not even acknowledge what women's sexual side effects are. How are we supposed to ask for help, if we don't even know what's happening to us?

I have been on and off of antidepressants for 4 years now. When I'm not on them, I am my unquenchable, sexual self. I have orgasms so intense that I feel like I leave my body, and when I come back to myself I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I'm warm, and giggling and smiling and happy. When I'm on them I range from not even thinking about sex, to kind of having something that could pass for an orgasm, but it just can't compare to the real thing. After prescribing every combination of antidepressants out there to try to find the right combination for me, my psychiatrist suggested that I try taking Viagra. "There have been one or two studies on women that have shown promising results." No thanks. I just can't in good conscience take a pill designed to fix male sexual side effects when women's sexuality as a whole is barely even recognized as something to study, let alone to fix.

As a Sexual Health Educator, I work everyday to help women work towards loving their sexuality, whether fully functioning or not. Hopefully someday, society will accept that women deserve to enjoy sex and we won't have to choose between our mental health and orgasms. In the mean time, I will keep trying new and creative ways to regain my sex drive, while still maintaining my mental balance. As they say, practice makes perfect.

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