The Mysteries of the Female Libido: How to Get Her in the Mood

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Does she want sex? Doesn’t she? If not, why not? All important questions, I’m sure you’ll agree. The female libido sometimes feels as mysterious as quantum physics. And whilst everyone is different, understanding a few concepts can help your love life flourish.

The male and female libido are different

Researchers found that men under the age of sixty tend to think about sex at least once a day, whilst only 25% of women think about sex that often.

Men want more sex, more often, and with more partners than women do. There are all kinds of cultural and biological reasons for this.

Evolutionary biologists would say it’s a man’s job to create as many offspring as possible. And it’s a woman’s role to be pregnant for nine months and then raise a child for several years.

The simple truth is that men and women, and their sex drives, are just different.

Yes, there are women that want lots of sex, just as there are men that don’t. But it’s important to understand that as a general rule, your partner’s sex drive may be quite different than yours.

A woman’s mental libido

Think of the example of Viagra. Designing a drug to help men have sex was relatively easy. All researchers had to do was find a way to get more blood down into the penis so you could get an erection. Once that erection is achieved, you’re good to go.

Designing a drug for female libido was a lot tougher. Simply encouraging lubrication or blood flow to the genitals isn’t enough. That’s why research found that the so-called female Viagra hasn’t been much of a success.

Women need more than the physical – they need the mental aspect too. They need an emotional connection (for the most part).

What does the mental part mean for you?

It probably means that if your partner isn’t in the right mental state, she’s unlikely to want to have sex. I’ll discuss some factors that influence sex drive below. But for now, keep in mind that a woman’s brain is as important as her body.

Getting over that mental hurdle might not be as difficult as you think though, since women tend to be responsive rather than spontaneous.

Responsive or spontaneous desire?

Some sex experts discuss the idea of a women’s sexual desire being more responsive, whereas a man’s libido is more spontaneous. It’s not agreed on by all experts, but it’s a theory some subscribe to.

What does it actually mean though?

In very basic terms, it means that a woman might need a little spark to get her in the mood. Men, on the others hand, are more likely to randomly feel sexual urges with no obvious trigger.

As a man, this might be disappointing to hear, particularly if you secretly wish your partner would just jump on you sometimes. It’s not that she doesn’t have any desire, it’s just that it perhaps doesn’t appear by magic.

Take the first step to get her in the mood

So perhaps you can take some positive steps if you feel the urge but she isn’t giving off a sex vibe yet. It may be your job to subtly seduce her with some skillful early foreplay.

Her mental state might change so that suddenly she does want sex (whereas beforehand she might have been ready to settle down to a TV series for the night).

No mean no

The theory of responsive desire is a bit of a minefield, so I urge caution. It obviously doesn’t mean that women can be encouraged to have sex at any time just because you want it.

However, from a practical point of view, it’s always worth a passionate kiss, a massage, some caressing or other foreplay to let her know that you’re in the mood. Perhaps she’ll feed off your sexual energy and join in.

A final note on this point is that some men might be responsive and some women spontaneous. Others might flit between the two from one day to the next. So don’t pigeon-hole your partner and push for sex thinking she’s definitely, and always, responsive!

image representing libido

What affects female libido?

Let’s assume that your partner is attracted to you, and likes to please you, but she still doesn’t feel like having sex often, or at all even.

What’s going on?

There could be any number of reasons for a low libido, either temporary or as part of who she is. Let’s consider a few common examples.

Her menstrual cycle

Where a woman is in her cycle, and which hormones are pumping around her system at any given time, affect how much she wants sex.

This varies by woman, but most tend to want sex more right before their period or during ovulation (which is when she would be able to conceive).

You don’t need to be creepy about it, but having a vague idea of your partner’s cycle can help explain mood changes as well as libido changes.

Birth Control (and other drugs)

Because birth control changes a woman’s hormone levels, it can also change her libido (in either direction!).

If the problem is serious, a change of medication might help, if her doctor recommends it. Other meds, like anti-depressants and even cold medications can also affect her libido too.

Stress and other health concerns

Remember that women’s libido is more mental than a man’s? That means that stress, tiredness, and her health can lower her libido if she can’t get into the right mental space to get going.


Having a child is likely to decrease the amount of sex in your relationship by around a third, according to at least one study.

Interestingly though, the same study found that partners who spent more time working and doing household chores had more sex, saying:

The authors find support for the multiple-spheres hypothesis suggesting that both women and men who “work hard” also “play hard.”

Gager and Yabiku


Finally, researchers have found cultural points that affect a woman’s sexual activity too. They found that countries with higher gender equality had more casual sex. But in other countries, women might restrict sex to maintain a higher value to it.

Other cultural influences might include her level of education, religion, her social circle and their attitudes to sex, and her family’s values.

The way you have sex

Sometimes, the unfortunate case might be that she has some issues with the way you have sex. Consider these points as possible explanations:

  • Do you maintain good personal hygiene? Do you wash, trim nails, trim your public hair?
  • Do you engage in enough foreplay, or rush her into sex? Women generally like a good amount of foreplay to become aroused and lubricated.
  • Do you finish very quickly, but don’t give her manual or oral stimulation to bring her to orgasm too?
  • Does she feel pain, from your large size, too rough sex, or for too long?
  • Do you make her feel loved, wanted and beautiful? Do you make her feel that her body is perfect just the way it is, or do you criticize her?

If any of the above seem familiar, time to address them!

Can libido change?

A woman’s libido certainly does change over time. I’ve already mentioned factors that affect her libido, and most women will experience at least a few fluctuations in sex drive during their lives.

Maybe the real question that you want to ask is whether you can make her libido higher so she wants more sex, and the answer to that is ‘possibly’.

Hormones play a big role in libido, so if low sex drive is a problem, a doctor’s visit might be in order. There are medications that help improve a woman’s libido (all require a prescription). But this is a controversial topic, and one to discuss thoroughly with a qualified medical professional.

And due to the responsive nature of female libido, some women might find that the more sex they have, the more they want.

But really, the best thing you can do if libido has become an issue is to communicate. Explain your feelings on the matter without placing blame on her, so that you can both work to solve the problem together.

Libido: the bottom line

Female libido is complicated, and her desire to have sex or not often might have nothing to do with you personally.

A woman may be more responsive, so if you take the initiative she might respond positively. But the real message is understanding and communication.

A woman’s libido is different to yours, so you can’t judge her by your own standards. That doesn’t mean that you have to settle for less sex or no sex though. Like with most relationship issues, a little communication goes a long way.

You might also like

It might be helpful to read about some mistakes men make with sex. If your partner has a low libido, even though there can be many reasons, it’s still good to check if there’s something you’ve missed.

Your view

What do you think about the responsive desire concept? Does it make sense, or is it more complicated than that? What do you find most affects women’s libido? Leave a comment below!


  1. Nice article. I want to bring some fantasy roleplay to my relationship but like you say I don’t feel right doing some of the things my partner has said she likes. But I want to do it for her. Your article has given me some good ideas for approaching it though so maybe we can take it one at a time and see where we go. D

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