Wednesday Words: My wife’s libido is low and her toy makes her itch

Each Wednesday, I answer one of your burning questions on the blog. This week Mike asks:

Love the podcast. I have a gorgeous BBW wife who I still paw at despite 16 years of marriage and 20 years of being together. The sex is mind blowing, but only once a week of maybe every ten days. She claims that her libido has gone down since having two kids and turning 40. Once we start the foreplay she revs up quickly, I would just like to do it more often. Any thoughts to get her in the mood more often?

On a side note, we have a dildo that she loves but can’t use it because it makes her itch and be uncomfortable down there for a few days after using it. I wash it thoroughly with soap and water after use. Would it make sense to put a condom on it as silly as that sounds?

Thanks so much.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your questions. I love how much you love having sex with your wife.

Let’s start with the easy part.

If the dildo your wife uses makes her itch, replace it.

Especially if it’s not medical grade silicone (or some other non-porous material).

My guess is it’s a porous toy – like soft jelly, for instance. These kinds of materials can never truly be cleaned. The small pores in the material hold on to bacteria, yeast, lube, etc, and no amount of scrubbing will sanitize it.

Can you use a condom? Absolutely. I use condoms on all of my toys. It makes for easy clean-up.

But…there is something you should know. Jelly dildos and other porous toys can still leach irritants through condoms. The type of plastic used in porous toys has molecules that are smaller than the holes in a condom, so it won’t completely protect your wife from any toxic materials. That said, it could help.

The better thing to do is to invest in a different toy. If you’re financially able and you do not have a medical grade silicone toy, invest in one (or more) ASAP.

Check out Smitten Kitten or She Bop the Shop for some ideas. There are loads of options that aren’t super expensive. I endorse Fun Factory, njoy, and Tantus toys.

Now, let’s take a look at your first question about your wife’s libido.

The first thing I’d recommend is for both of you to read Emily Nagoski’s book “Come As You Are”. It is the latest and greatest scientific and medical research into women’s libido. It is very easy to read, has fun stories, and will completely shift how you look at desire and libido.

Based on what you’ve shared, my guess is your wife has responsive desire. The vast majority of folks assigned female at birth identify as having responsive desire. This means that in order to feel sexually excited, there needs to be a stimulus first for her to respond to.

Here’s what I want to drive home: Your wife’s libido is normal. She is not broken. She is not a project. She does not need to be fixed.

Nothing in your email suggests you see her as broken, but for everyone reading (since so many people have concerns about this), I needed to say it.

It’s also worth noting that your libido, Mike, is also normal. Which means there isn’t a winner or a loser, being right or being wrong. There’s just a complex set of experiences to navigate, and many relationships have to find their own way to bridge the differences.

I say this because if at any point she feels broken or pressured, you’ll be creating an environment that’s the opposite of what you’re going for. The safer she feels, the more likely you are to have open conversations around this.

Another reason I recommend Emily’s book is because there are exercises in the book that can help give you both shared language for how your wife experiences her body and her desire.

For example, often people who have responsive desire (which again, is the vast majority of us), they struggle to feel that sexual urge if they are feeling stressed.

So, one of the things you could ask your wife about is how stressed she feels, how supported she feels, and what ways you can support her to help ease some of the burden she might be feeling.

This is why you see so many jokes on greeting cards about sexy husbands, and then on the inside of the card he is vacuuming or doing the dishes – the emotional labor of running a household can be tremendously exhausting and sharing that burden can suddenly create space for sexual energy to rush in.

Another thing you need to ask your wife is how SHE feels about the frequency of your sexual encounters.

When you ask this, you have to ensure you aren’t approaching it from a place of judgment or expectation. She will feel that and may give an answer that isn’t 100% honest. Instead, get genuinely curious about her experience.

Is she secretly satisfied with the frequency but pretends to be unhappy because she knows you are? Is she frustrated or disappointed with the frequency but feels overwhelmed or broken and doesn’t know where to start?

Let her tell you without putting words in her mouth. That answer will give you a lot more to work with.

If she does want to change the frequency, then Emily’s book will be invaluable in helping her to articulate the areas she needs to explore. Maybe she doesn’t feel stressed, but she needs a different kind of warm-up leading up to sexy times. Maybe she needs more anticipation and flirting.

Perhaps she doesn’t need those things and she really does need some help around the house.

Or, if she is always super stressed about how much time she has, sex may feel stressful because she doesn’t feel like she can spare an hour or two a few times per week.

The only way to find out what she needs is to talk to her. It may take multiple conversations over the course of a few weeks/months, too.

Let her know why you want to have these conversations – you adore her body and the sex you have because XYZ . Do everything you can to ensure it doesn’t feel like you’re pressuring her to change but instead inviting space for the two of you to create something that works for you both.

But, you may be asking, what if she is happy with the frequency and you aren’t? Then it’s up to you to meet your own sexual needs.

The great news is there are so many ways to do this. We just doesn’t realize it because we’ve been fed all of these myths about “real” sex requiring a partner. Solo sex is real sex, though. So, how often are you giving yourself that gift?

From masturbation to penis-centric sex toys to enriching your fantasy life thru porn and erotica, you have countless ways to enjoy your own body and sexual expression.

You can also talk to her about helping you in creative ways that don’t require her to engage in sex, like reading erotica to you while you touch yourself. The sky is the limit here.

And of course, if you really feel more sex is a need of yours, dig underneath that to find out why. What does sex mean to you?

If it’s because it feels good and is fun, what are all the other ways you can feel good and have fun with your wife that don’t require her to change? Showering together? Tickle fights?

If it’s because sex makes you feel closer to her, what are all the other ways you can feel closer to her that hold space for her current needs and experience? More date nights? Deeper conversations that are vulnerable? Her witnessing your sexual expression by watching you masturbate?

In the end, you have to decide what your needs are and how they fit with your wife’s needs and the relationship you are cultivating together. Opening up your marriage or hiring a professional are options, as well. Just make sure it’s ethical and both of you are fully on board before going there.

Contrary to our current cultural stories, our spouses and partners never owe us sex. That’s not part of the deal. What is part of the deal is deciding, together, what works for the two of you.

From your email, Mike, it doesn’t sound like you’re approaching this from a place of entitlement, but instead from a place of genuinely enjoying your wife. I think that is a wonderful starting point for you both.

So, I suggest creating space for you and your wife to talk about your sexual hopes and dreams.

What is her experience of her libido? What is your experience of your libido? What are all the ways you could connect sexually that would feel good for both of you? What if you read Emily’s book together over the course of a few weeks and created this rich, shared language around sexual needs and desire? Does she want other toys or other experiences? Have you done a Yes-No-Maybe list together?

The options are literally endless. I hope you see all of these suggestions as yummy invitations for the two of you to explore together. It sounds super fun to me. But then, I’m a sex geek.

What do you think, dear reader? How have you navigated differing libidos? Do you have suggestions or stories to share? Comment below and let us know.

Have your own question about sex, relationships, kink, or your body? Send it my way (there’s an anonymous option) and I may answer your inquiry on the podcast or in the weekly advice column, Wednesday Words.

  • Dawn
  • July 19, 2016