A new study published in BMJ Open analysed data from a sample survey taken between 2010 and 2012 that asked people all kinds of questions about sex. The study included 4,839 men and 6,669 women between the ages of 16 and 74 years who had at least one sexual partner in the past year.
And the findings are interesting, to say the least. Overall, 15 percent of men and more than 34 percent of women reported having a lack of interest in sex. Researchers found that the disinterest was related to age, as well as physical and mental health for both sexes. It was also more prevalent in men and women who said that they had been diagnosed with an STI in the past, or had been forced to have sex before.
Not surprisingly, men and women were less likely to be into sex if they’d struggled with sexual issues in the last year, didn’t feel emotionally close to their partner during sex, or weren’t able to easily talk about sex.
But to us, what really stands out is the huge discrepancy between women and men when it comes to a lack of interest in sex—women are more than twice as likely as men to not be down to get down. What’s going on here?
Researchers found that the gender gap was mainly relevant for people who had been in a relationship for more than a year. In these cases, women were more likely to not share the same level of interest in sex as their partner.
This may not come as a huge shocker. Of course, you’re never going to be as hot for each other as you were when you first started dating. But the study findings also affirm how important it is to keep the spark alive—after all, you don't want to risk losing your sex life altogether, right?
If all of this hits close to home, you're not alone. "A lot of couples struggle when their sex lives become too routine," says David Klow, L.M.F.T., owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago and author of the upcoming book, You Are Not Crazy: Love Letters From Your Therapist. He recommends shaking things up by trying different positions or getting it on in new locations.
Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., author of Should I Stay or Should I Go? says it's also a good idea to embrace the idea of a quickie. "Sex doesn't have to be all candles and foreplay," she says. "Sometimes it can make it more playful within the time frame." Cuddling, holding, and touching each other on a regular basis can also build intimacy that can translate to the bedroom, she says. Date nights and having scheduled moments where you can connect—just the two of you—can also help, she says.
If you feel like your libido has been lower than usual lately, talk to your partner about it. Stress can torpedo your sex drive and it may simply be that you need your S.O. to help out a little more, Durvasula says.
If all else fails, consider couples therapy, advises Durvasula. "Find out if the mismatched sexual interest is time and stress or something more sinister."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health