By Dr. Ruth Westheimer
April 20, 2018

After 30 years of working as a sex therapist, the legendary Dr. Ruth isn’t done sharing her wisdom. Here, she answers your most pressing questions on sex, relationships and life. Email your own queries to drruth@time.com, or catch up on previous installments of the Ask Dr. Ruth series.

Q: How can I overcome my recent hypoactive sexual desire disorder diagnosis? I’d love to boost my libido.

A: Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) can have many different causes, some of which are physical and others psychological. So the first thing you must do is visit your gynecologist and get a complete check up. This is not just to boost your libido, but to make sure that if there’s a physical problem that it’s treated promptly. For an older woman the cause might be changing hormones caused by menopause, and that’s a normal part of the aging process, though your doctor might be able to provide some relief. But for a younger woman a severe decrease in hormone production might signal a health problem that needs medical attention, So, again, go to see a doctor as soon as possible.

To me, the most important part of your question was when you said: “I’d love to boost my libido.” That you realize the problem and want to find a cure probably means that you will.

Here’s one thing you can try on your own that might do the trick (assuming that you’ve seen a doctor and ruled out anything that requires treatment). There’s a French saying, l’appetit vient en mangeant which describes the situation of not being hungry, but then sitting down to eat and finding that your appetite has kicked in. This has probably happened to you so you’re familiar with the effect. Well, it can work with regards to sex as well as food. Assuming you have a partner, the next time she or he initiates matters, go along with it. Don’t say to yourself, or to them, “I don’t really feel like it.” And don’t say “OK” but then just lie there like a log. Instead take part as fully as you would have before this change in desire occurred. In many instances you’ll find yourself getting excited and the sex will be very satisfying.

You might not react positively every time you agree to have sex even though you don’t really have the urge. Sometimes more than one factor may be affecting you. Let’s say you had a bad day at the office. Having an argument you had earlier play over and over in your mind would destroy the libido of anyone, whether or not she or he was having other issues. In a situation like that, if nothing your partner does is going to bring about an orgasm, just let him or her know. Explain why, so that your partner doesn’t think it’s part of this on-going problem. And make sure that your partner finds sexual satisfaction.

You might be tempted to fake an orgasm when this happens to you. I’m not against faking from time to time, but if you fake too often you can get into a pattern that will ensure you never achieve sexual satisfaction. Better to be honest than paint yourself into a corner which will be very hard to get out of.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. See a doctor, try to jump start your sex life on your own and have some patience. Just because you don’t find success right away doesn’t mean that you won’t.

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