Sex drive: differences between men and women

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Sex drive: differences between men and women

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He’s up for sex, but you'd rather curl up with a book. He's a morning person, but you prefer evenings. Men’s and women’s sex drives aren’t always in tune with each other...why?
 - Sex drive: differences between men and women

He’s up for sex, but you'd rather curl up with a book. He's a morning person, but you prefer evenings. Men’s and women’s sex drives aren’t always in tune with each other...why?

Desire drives our sex lives. A relationship without sexual desire amounts to little more than friendship. Different physical and psychological factors are involved in triggering sexual desire: lifestyle, upbringing, hormones, fantasies and feelings.

Hormonal influences

The hormone that controls male and female sex drive is testosterone. It’s produced by the testicles and adrenal glands in men, and by the ovaries in women.
Because our testosterone levels are lower than our partners', could this be the reason for our inferior sex drive? Not necessarily: the female body is a lot more sensitive to testosterone than the male body, which makes up for the difference.
Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during the menstrual cycle, influence the intensity of a woman’s sex drive. Over the days prior to ovulation, our bodies register a peak in oestrogen and our libido soars (except in women who use hormone-based contraception, of course). And after giving birth we secrete prolactin, which reduces our sex drive.

Psychological factors

Upbringing, culture and centuries-old social and religious attitudes still put a significant amount of moral pressure on women and make them less willing to express desire than men. This perhaps explains why men are able to disassociate sexual desire from their feelings: they are perfectly able to make love with someone they’re not in love with. Nevertheless, the more attached they are to their partner, the more intense their libido is.
Furthermore, male sex drive tends to be impulsive and comes from within, whereas a woman’s sex drive is more likely to be aroused by desire and arousal by her partner, by pleasant surroundings and a relaxing situation that encourages affection.

Age and sexual desire

- Sexual desire in men starts at puberty, when they first begin to masturbate. It develops until they reach the age of 50, and can then start to decline. With age, some men experience andropause, a reduction in testosterone that leads to low libido.
- Although sexual desire in women begins later on, it increases with time, and especially with experience. Sexual maturity is usually reached at around 35 years of age. During the menopause, a woman's oestrogen levels drop and her ovaries produce less testosterone. But since psychological factors are involved as well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that her libido will decrease. As women have more time to think about their relationship and desires, they give their sex lives more attention. The menopausal period in a woman’s life often marks an upturn in her sex drive.

The best moments for him and for her

Why does he always want to get frisky in the morning when you’re in a rush and not fully with it?
First thing’s first: it’s not to annoy you! Male testosterone levels climb to 30% in the morning, hence their early-morning energy. Women need to feel relaxed, calm and clear-headed to get in the mood for sex. The ideal time for us is in the evening, once the kids are tucked up and the day's worries have been forgotten. You could say there’s a bit of a timetable clash between male and female sex drive...
Seasonal change also causes our biorhythms to intervene in our sex lives. Women see their sex drive surge at the start of spring because of a significant peak in oestrogen. Male senses are awakened later on, at the start of summer.

How to get in tune with each other

When your partner isn't in the mood, you can feel rejected, unloved and unattractive. To avoid this type of situation, which is unpleasant for both parties, communicate with each other! Both of you need to express your feelings and frustrations so that you feel close to each other.
As the saying goes, “appetite comes with eating”, so don’t be afraid to force yourself a little at first. Caressing and cuddling can be enough to arouse your sexual desire all by itself.

Love & Sex Editor
03/12/2007 11:15:00
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