Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Those with Asperger Syndrome, or AS, may exhibit a lack of empathy for their peers, clumsiness, and atypical use of language, though none of these symptoms are required for a diagnosis.1
The pain of coming to terms with having Asperger's is still very real for me right now. There is a tremendous sense of grief. Grief for all that I suffered through to try to be "normal" and grief for how short of "normal" I always have been. There is also great relief to know that I am not crazy and that not everything can be traced back to an abusive past in the sense that some of what I experience is not choice/emotional but neurons/physical. The greatest challenge I face right now is trying to figure out which is which. This is not easy.
One of the most common side effects of a number of antidepressant medications is loss of sex drive. I could forgive our friends at fine companies such as Eli Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer if dry mouth, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, sloth, and social phobia were the sole issues related to the medications I take on a daily basis. However, it is the sex thing I find most challenging.
Anhedonia is the technical term for the inability to experience joy. When people are in the depths of depression, nothing touches them, not the most intensely pleasurable activities, not the most familiar comforts. They are emotionally frozen. In this state, people either have to get professional help or simply wait for weeks or months until the depression lifts by itself; nothing is going to make them feel better.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred.
Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or "brain chemistry" aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations. When this diagnosis is present, the individual will exhibit at least five of the following symptoms during the depressive periods:
A couple concerned about the lack of sexual desire and activity in their relationship, came to see me for a consultation. They had been living together for two years, loved each other and had no problem being affectionate. Sex, however, seemed to have fallen by the wayside after the first year. The couple had been avoiding the issue, but once it was raised, they realized they needed help.
I offer this example because the couple happens to be heterosexual.
What is Lesbian Bed Death?
Lesbian bed death is a term coined by sociologist, Pepper Schwartz in her book, American Couples (1983). Although her methodology was challenged and her results questioned, the term Lesbian Bed Death became a catchphrase that is still used today.
Does Lesbian Bed Death Really Exist?
Lesbian Bed Death is a misnomer, if not a myth. While diminished sexual activity is an issue lesbian couples discuss in treatment, gay and heterosexual couples do so with the same frequency.
I have seen lesbians in long-term relationships who continue to engage in sexual activity and heterosexual couples who stopped having sex after a few years into a marriage. I've seen gay male couples who lost interest in sex with their partners and those that continued being sexual after being together for many years.
One difference I have experienced between these three groups is that male couples have been more likely to suggest opening the relationship to include sex with other men. I have not yet seen lesbian or heterosexual couples who have proposed this as an option.
Why do Some Couples Stop Having Sex?
There are a number of reasons couples stop having sex.
Difficulties in communicating can impact the relationship in many ways, sex being one of them. If the couple is experiencing problems in other areas and cannot resolve the issues through talking, anger and resentment will build. These feelings can and often do impact a couples' sexual intimacy.
Fighting, blaming, and criticizing each other will block the couple from opening up and being vulnerable. Feeling self-protective doesn't allow for sexual intimacy.
Merging is another factor that can lead to diminished sexual activity. Many people confuse intimacy with merging. The difference is that intimacy requires two people who are independent and have their own feelings, thoughts, interests, and needs. It requires each partner to respect and accept the other's differences.
Merging doesn't allow for differences and separateness. Differences are seen as threatening. Need for time alone, time with friends, opposing opinions, different likes and dislikes may be felt as abandonment. There is no room for the partners to be separate distinct individuals in the relationship. Merging can kill sexual desire as sex requires two separate individuals. Merging can make sex feel too incestuous.
Sometimes, sex can fall by the wayside if couples allow other activities, chores, socializing and mundane tasks to get in the way. If sex isn't a priority; if it isn’t seen as necessary and important, it will diminish over time. Avoidance of sexual problems or issues will not resolve them. Instead, sex will die out.
Health concerns and menopause can be a factor. Hormonal changes, a waning sex drive, and depression can add to lack of sexual activity. It is important to address these issues when they arise as a couple. It may be difficult to accept these changes especially if a couples’ sex life was a constant and enjoyable component of their relationship. Sex doesn't have to end, but changes need to be accepted in order to get past this obstacle.
Past sexual abuse can be another causal factor leading to difficulties in present sexual relationships. Partners need to work on this issue together. This takes patience and understanding on the part of each individual.
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