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In search of the lost libido

I've lost my libido and I'm not quite sure where I left it.

I had it during high school. I didn't always know what to do with it, but I sure as heck knew it was there.

It was a constant companion during college. It went everywhere with me and I paid more attention to it than to any of my professors.

I enjoyed its company during my early married years. Busily climbing the corporate food chain, I was often so exhausted that I only took it out on weekends. But whenever I needed a break, it was eager to come out and play.

However, somewhere between baby No. 1 and baby No. 2, it starting taking long vacations. And by the time I degenerated into a frazzled, middle-aged, working mother of two, it had gone into permanent exile.

At first, I didn't even notice it was gone.

But now, I think I've hurt its feelings, and it's refusing to come out at all.

About the only thing it responds to is alcohol. It makes a brief appearance between drink one and two. But by drink No. 3 it goes back into hiding and falls asleep again. Frankly, I'm not sure I have the patience to deal with something this temperamental.

There's an alarming epidemic sweeping the country. If you're not afflicted, chances are, your neighbors and friends are suffering.

It's the lost libido syndrome, and rumor has it that people aren't just losing their lust, it's being stolen from them by work, stress, children and exhaustion.

Studies show that low sex drive affects at least one in five women. The "Sex in America" study, published in 1994 and updated last year, found that one-third of couples had sex just a few times a year.

And that's the people who admitted it.

Singles may be sexing it up in the city, but out here in the 'burbs, libidos are flat-lining at an alarming rate.

My anecdotal research reveals that females are the primary victims. Sex often falls somewhere between laundry and bill paying on the average woman's to-do list.

Intimacy and romance expert Patty Brisben said, "Sex to men is like eating -- a natural, normal thing to do. But when women are exhausted, it's somebody else tugging and pulling. It's just another chore."

Brisben, the founder and CEO of Pure Romance, said stressed-out, overscheduled lives don't allow enough time for women to get into the mood. "Men are like microwaves," she said. "But women are like Crock Pots. We need longer to get into the game."

She would know. As mother of four, Brisben recalls her earlier years, saying, "I was so exhausted I couldn't see two feet in front of me, but I did know that sex kind of relaxed me."

She echoes the experience of many women when she comments, "How many times have you gotten in bed where you didn't want to do it, but then afterward you think, why don't we have sex more often?"

Enter Pure Romance (pureromance.com): The Tupperware of sex. If you think home sales parties are punch and kitchen gadgets, think again. There's nothing like a table of "bedroom accessories" and a few margaritas to get a group of suburban women rolling.

No, you don't play with the toys at the party, but you do learn how to use them. Brisben said, "At the Pure Romance parties we talk about pampering, we know how important it is for women to feel sexy." Something we often forget in our sweat pants, chips-in-the sofa-cushion, sleep-interrupted lives.

So in the interest of responsible journalism, I tested the Pure Romance bag of tricks, and I must say, my husband has never taken such a passionate interest in my work.

My libido is celebrating its homecoming.

Turns out, it was waiting for me right where I left it -- here in the 'burbs, buried beneath the dirty laundry.

e-mail: lisa@forgetperfect.com

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