#DebunkingDesire questions for Diana for International Women’s Day
Updated: Jun 5
What were some common misconceptions about sexual desire?
The most common misconceptions I, and most women I came across, had about low sexual desire, were:
“I am the only one who deals with this”
“Something is wrong with me”
“I shouldn’t be sharing this with anyone, because it’s shameful and I will be judged”
“There is nothing that can be done about it, it’s how the dice were rolled for me”
What I find painful, is that in all of the above, a woman dealing with low sexual desire feels defeated, hopeless and alone. This is where information and education from researchers in sexual desire, as well as support from other women dealing with the same challenges, play a key-role.
How do you think mindfulness helps with low sexual desire?
I am a yoga teacher. I teach breath work, mind-body connection and awareness of sensations and emotions. I find that “mindfulness”, which was a buzzword at a point in time, has lost its traction and weight, because so many people use it nowadays. It is nonetheless a very powerful tool and should be used by all women dealing with low sexual desire.
Mindfulness has helped me in two wonderful ways.
It keeps me grounded in the present moment. Low sexual desire is directly linked to worrying, overthinking and stress. Presence eliminates all of these.
It deeply connects me to the sensations in my body. Due to our hectic lives, our busy minds and that fact that we have learned to ignore our constant tiredness, the screaming pain of our feet in high heels or the discomfort in our backs, we lose our bodily sensations. Mindfulness reconnects us to our bodies, which makes sensation easier to perceive.
What would you say to women with low sexual desire?
With women dealing with low sexual desire I would address the most common myths I have encountered around these struggles:
You are not alone, approximately 1 in 3 women has dealt with low sexual desire at some point in her life
There is nothing wrong with you, sexual desire is different from person to person and even fluctuates for each person
There are accessible, proven and powerful ways to improve sexual desire, such as mindfulness, as well as other activities which relieve stress. A mindfulness practice does not need to involve an unrealistic investment or time, money or energy, but rather it can be adapted to any schedule and resources availability. Maybe the two most important milestones in establishing a mindfulness practice are first, to trust that it will improve sexual desire for you too, as it has for some many other women and secondly, to create a habit of practicing mindfulness. Nevertheless, it is all worth it.
How was your experience participating in sex research?
For me, participating in sex research was very pleasant and eye-opening. Pleasant, because I was able to share my questions with other wonderful and supportive women and to learn from their experiences. Eye-opening, because I received many practical resources, tools and information that made a difference in my life, as well as in the life of the other women participants and in the life of my coaching clients.
If you are thinking to participate in Dr. Brotto’s and her team’s research, expect that you will be treated with a lot of care and consideration, you will receive a lot of support, as well as valuable information and practical tools, and you will be involved in ground-breaking science, which will benefit not only you, but so many other women out there, who need help with their sexual desire.
What are your sexual health or mindfulness goals for the future?
I will continue with my Vipassana practice, a meditation technique well known for connecting a person to the sensations in her body, my yoga and physical activity practice, a diet focused on lower carb, as well as dairy intake, which I have found makes me feel better in body and provides me with more energy. What’s a stereotype about women, women’s health, or sexual health that you’d like to dispel?
I believe that images, commercials and movies with perfect bodies, eternally smiling and constantly happy women and perfect synchronization in the sex lives of partners, they all create an unattainable avatar of the modern women, putting a lot of pressure of them, which leads to additional stress, feelings of inadequacy, guilt and shame.
I would love to see more and more social media message promoting other types of values, such as honesty and authenticity, mutual support and sharing of true stories, as well as the beauty in vulnerability and imperfection.
Where would you like to see the field of women’s health research go next?
As a woman, I would like to understand more how men can be informed, educated and involved in the challenges women face with sexual desire. I believe this is an important component of a woman’s sexual wellbeing, i.e. knowing that she:
Can communicate openly and with common sense about what she is dealing with and what she needs
Has support and understanding from her partner
Her partner has the resources (information, education, tools) to do all of the above.