March 14, 2022

March 12, 2022

How Much Sex Is Too Little?

Written By

Bailey Forcier-Yake

Bailey Forcier-Yake is an Indigenous freelance writer from the Nisga'a Nation of Northern BC. Her favorite topics to write about are mental health, well-being, and spirituality. Her goal is to raise awareness about mental health issues and help eliminate the stigma that comes with it.

When it comes to discussing matters that involve what goes on in the bedroom, many people have different opinions on a question that often gets tossed around: how much sex is too little? 

The answer is — well, there is no right or wrong answer

What's considered a sexual dysfunction for some women may be completely normal for another. It all depends on how she is affected by her sexual appetite mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially.

In this article, were going to explore what is considered a sexual dysfunction for women, the benefits of engaging in sexual activity, and what can be done to increase a woman's libido. 

So, to better understand what amount of sex is too little, continue reading.

What Is Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Female sexual dysfunction describes certain complications to a woman’s body before, during, or after sex. There may be a delay or complete lack of response or reaction from the body or mind when there typically should be one, such as getting aroused or feeling a desire for sex. 

Common Sexual Dysfunction Disorders In Women 

Approximately 40% of women worldwide have reported that they experience issues with sex. Although sexual problems can occur at any age, they increase as women age. Sexual dysfunction in women can be a short-term, temporary thing, or a long-term, chronic condition. 

When it comes to sexual dysfunctions, the issue, or disorder, can fall into one of four categories:

Of all the sexual dysfunctions experienced by women, the most commonly reported problem involves the amount of sexual desire. When a woman cannot feel sexual desire like she wishes, it can significantly strain her relationships and negatively affect her mental health in a vicious cycle. 

What Defines Sexual Desire Issues?

The amount of sexual desire someone feels does not necessarily define a sexual dysfunction or issue regarding sexual desire. Rather, we look to how the person is affected by the amount of desire they feel. Whether the amount of sexual desire one experiences causes evident discomfort or distress or not can determine if there's really a problem.

For example, say two women have the same libido. The first woman is in a healthy relationship. Both she and her partner are satisfied with how much sexual activity they engage in, despite it being considered a lower amount than the average couple. 

The second woman is also in a relationship. However, she and her partner are beginning to feel frustrated because they aren't having nearly as much sex as they used to. Something had caused her desire for sex to significantly decrease, resulting in personal distress or relationship strains.

So, although both women have the same libido, only the second might be considered to have a sexual dysfunction. Because she feels uncomfortable and her mental health and relationship are negatively impacted, her level of sexual desire is an issue that may need some form of treatment. 

The words "The Desire Project by MINDCURE" with a line drawn leaf are pictured in purple, pink, and yellow gradient
MINDCURE's Desire Project aims to create solutions for female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Learn more about the Desire Project.

How Can a Woman Tell When She Should Be Concerned About Her Desire?

Most people think of penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) as the only form of sex; in reality, sex can be the act of touching and experiencing intimacy. Whether with a partner or on one’s own, engaging in sexual activity (including masturbation) is a normal part of life. However, there is no "normal" amount. It's not uncommon for most people to go through a phase in their life where they have little to no sex at all. This could be for several reasons. What truly matters regarding the "proper amount" of sex is what the individual is comfortable with. 

If there’s no feeling of distress from the lack of sexual desire in her life, there’s no reason for concern. But, due to the pressure of societal standards and what's considered the "norm," a woman may begin to feel ashamed. She may feel pressured into believing there's a problem with her. That can take quite a toll on self-esteem. So, desire and mental health are intertwined.

Let's look at some reasons why a woman may feel pressured to be concerned with her libido.

The "Sexuality = A Man's Sexuality" Theory

Sexuality has traditionally been studied and viewed from a man's perspective. This means that the ideas conceptualized regarding sexuality, such as how sexual arousal, responses, desire, and sexual behaviors work, come from how a man experiences those things. 

Sexuality, which includes both behaviors and responses experienced by a man, is misunderstood as the norm for everyone. However, women do not function the same way men do sexually.

Women have sexual behaviors, get aroused, and respond to stimulation differently from men. 

It’s even suggested that men have a more aggressive and direct sex drive than women. Because the strength of a man's sexual desire is considered the "norm," women are often depicted to have low libido, or lack having a "proper" amount of sexual desire. 

Some People Just Desire Sex More Than Others

The amount of sexual desire someone has varies from person to person, just like with appetite. Some crave sweets, while others seek out spicy foods to satisfy their taste buds. No two people are the same, even so in the bedroom. 

For two people to have a satisfying sex life, couples don't only need to be emotionally and mentally compatible, but sexually compatible as well. If your partner has a libido that is considered higher than others, yet yours is more on the lower side, you may feel pressured to perform. 

Talking to a professional such as a sex therapist may ease stress by helping one explore and understand her own body and mind better when it comes to sexuality.

3 Types of Sexual Desire

Did you know that there are different types of sexual desire? The way desire shows up varies between genders and is different for women and men. Many women think that there's something wrong or that they lack sexual desire entirely when in reality, they are just unaware of the type of sexual desire their body responds to best. These are broken down into 3 types of sexual desire: 

  • Spontaneous
  • Responsive
  • Contextual 

Figuring out which type triggers a reaction from your body and mind can significantly improve your sex life. Let's dive more into how these categories of sexual desire work. 

Spontaneous Sexual Desire

As its name suggests, this type of sexual desire shows up spontaneously, whether or not there has been any sort of stimulation. 

Only 15% of women experience spontaneous sexual desire, whereas, for men, it's much more common, with about 75% of men experiencing sexual desire spontaneously.

Responsive Sexual Desire 

Responsive sexual desire requires a trigger rather than random urges to have sex. Stimulation provokes desire for those who would otherwise go weeks or even months without feeling any sort of desire for sex.

When in a relationship, a person with responsive sexual desire will often rely on their partner to initiate sexual activity every time. This can lead to doubts and insecurities in relationships as a partner could misinterpret the lack of initiation as a lack of interest or attraction.

About 30% of women experience responsive sexual desire, while the number for men is much lower, sitting at about 5% of the male population.

Contextual Sexual Desire 

The rest of the population that doesn’t fall into the first two categories will most likely identify with the third category of sexual desire — contextual sexual desire. This means approximately 55% of women and 20% of men. 

Contextual sexual desire is highly determined by the environment and overall situation or circumstances present in one's life. For instance, imagine you have a sleeping baby in the room next to your own, or you have been struggling to pay the bills on time. The chances of you feeling in "the mood" or feeling sexy will most likely be quite slim.

What Could Cause Sex Drive to Decrease?

If you're concerned about having a lack of sexual desire, a good first step is to understand the possible causes of a lowered libido.

Things that may decrease sexual desire: 

The Benefits of Having Sex

While there’s nothing wrong with naturally low libido, engaging in regular sexual activity can provide you with benefits that improve your health and well-being:

  • Physically
  • Intellectually
  • Emotionally
  • Psychologically
  • Socially

How Can Sex Benefit a Woman's Body?

Sex plays a role in keeping your body in good shape. Regular sexual activity can benefit you physically by:

During orgasm, a woman’s blood flow increases and her body naturally releases pain-relieving chemicals.

Additionally, sexually active women can expect improved bladder control, diminished incontinence, reduced pain from premenstrual and menstrual cramping, increased fertility rates, strengthened pelvic floor muscles, and more.

Women experiencing menopause can also benefit from being sexually active. It decreases the likeliness of experiencing vaginal atrophy or vaginal wall thinning, which causes dryness and inflammation. Vaginal atrophy can cause pain during sex and lead to urinary problems.

Sex Benefits to Women's Mental Health

Well-being can improve from engaging in sexual activity, whether in the form of sex with a partner or going solo with masturbation. Emotional and psychological benefits include: 

  • Satisfaction with overall mental health
  • Stronger bonds, trust, and intimacy in your relationships
  • The ability to recognize, understand, and express emotions more clearly and easily
  • Diminished habitual psychological defense mechanisms 
  • The ability to maintain control over feelings of stress and anxiety during emotional conflicts
  • Boosted confidence
  • Better memory with age

What Can Increase Desire for Sex in Women?

Whether to experience the health benefits of having sex, to strengthen intimate relationships, or mitigate the duress caused by lack of desire, here are some things that can help treat a lowered libido.

Physical Changes to Naturally Increase Libido

Here are some lifestyle changes that can improve libido and naturally spark the desire for sex:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Prioritize a healthy sleep schedule
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Get rid of bad habits (smoking, alcohol, drug use)
  • Communicate openly and more often with your partner
  • Seek professional help from a sex therapist or relationship counselor
  • Experiment in the bedroom

Increase Libido Using Medications

Unlike men, women have limited prescription medications to increase their sexual desire. 

There are two FDA-approved medications a woman can take for treating her lack of sexual desire. Flibanserin (Addyi) and bremelanotide (Vyleesi), referred to as female viagra, are prescribed to women to help increase their libido. 

However, these medications are only approved for premenopausal women and have low effectiveness. They are also known to cause a variety of uncomfortable side effects.

How Can Psychedelics Help Women Become More Sexually Active?

Researchers and scholars have been studying the effects of psychedelics to medically treat various health conditions, especially mental health issues. MINDCURE’s latest research project, The Desire Project, is designed to help create solutions to improve the lives of women suffering from decreased desire. 

When it comes to female sexual dysfunctions (FSD) such as HSDD, psychedelic drugs with empathogenic effects show potential in helping individuals open themselves up and confront root issues in order to achieve sexual liberation. This sense of openness and acceptance can then allow them to work through emotional and mental issues that could significantly affect their ability to feel sexual desire. 

Cut the Stigma, End the Shame

At the end of the day, every woman is different. Whether or not a woman has enough sex in her life is solely dependent on how she feels about her sex life. If a woman should want to do something to feel more sexual desire, she deserves safe and effective options to help her achieve an increased libido.

The words "JOIN THE STUDY. Take our desire Project Survey" appear on a purple gradient colored button with a line drawn rose.
Wondering about sexual desire? Take our HSDD survey and get involved in our Desire Project.

Having the resources to perform proper research on drugs with great potential for success is a step closer to helping women improve their mental and physical health.

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