When Mindful Awareness Meets Sexual Desire

Millions of women struggle with low sexual desire. Researcher Lori Brotto explores how mindfulness teaches women to become more aware of their internal bodily sensations, including sexual sensations.

Shelina was a typical 48-year-old married woman and mother of two. She had a thriving career as the lead realtor at her firm, her teenage children were well adjusted and confident, and she and her husband, Akmal, had a rich circle of friends and social activities. However, Shelina had a secret she could not share. The fire that she once felt when gazing at her partner was now a dull flicker. 

During her weekly sexual encounters—planned for Friday nights between 11:00 and 11:15 pm—she deliberately avoided the foreplay she used to enjoy. No more kissing, touching, or caressing. She would zone out while Akmal touched her—thinking about plans for the next day and engaging very little with her body—prompting him to move directly to sexual intercourse, which she found unrewarding. And the less gratifying that sex had become, the more her sexual motivation had diminished. 

Many women can relate to Shelina’s dilemma. Despite the societal obsession with sexuality, sexual difficulties are immensely prevalent. Women around the world and across ages have difficulty reaching orgasm; insufficient lubrication affects not just postmenopausal or breastfeeding women but women of all ages, regardless of their hormonal status. Like Shelina, many women find that sex…

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About the author

Lori Brotto

Dr. Brotto completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where her research focused primarily on psychophysiological aspects of sexual arousal in women diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions. Her psychology internship at the University of Washington (UW) specialized in the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for mood, anxiety, substance abuse and psychotic disorders. Following her internship, Dr. Brotto’s Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine at UW was mentored by Dr. Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute. As a registered psychologist, Dr. Brotto offers psychological therapy to patients referred from both UBC Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Psychiatry, as well as the BC Cancer Agency. Dr. Brotto also sees private patients.