The chances are, that at some point, you’ve been made to feel bad about how much sex you’re having, initiating or wanting. Yet as anyone suffering specifically male- or female-factor infertility will know, feeling like you’re inadequate can damage relationships. There are articles splashed over the internet and across magazine covers, adverts promoting products to enhance your sex drive and wellness courses to recalibrate your sexual desire.
But what you think you know about your sexual desire is probably wrong.
According to sex scientist Dr Emily Nagoski in her 2015 book “Come as You Are” (an utterly brilliant read), there’s no such thing as a “sex drive”. In scientific terms, a drive is an innate push towards something that will enhance our (individual) survival. The drives to sleep, eat and drink and find shelter. Whilst not ideal for our species, if we don’t have sex, we won’t keel over.
Instead of thinking about sex as a drive, Nagoski suggests each of us has sex accelerators and sex brakes which turn us on or turn us off. Moreover, we each have a primary style of desire: Spontaneous Desire or Responsive Desire, but this can change over our lifetimes.
Most (although not all) women have a responsive desire style and most (not all) men have a spontaneous desire style. In our society, we think of someone having a high sex drive as a person who regularly thinks about and seeks sexual connection – someone who has a spontaneous desire style – hence why we tend to think men have a higher sex drive than women.