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How does sexual desire relate to sexuality?

Sari Cooper
Sexual Health

Sexual desire can be defined differently by people depending on their gender, cultural background and/or religion. In today's society, most people would define desire as the innate physical sensation or need to express oneself sexually whether by oneself or with a partner. It has long been assumed that you need to have this innate desire before engaging with someone sexually. Recent research has shown that many women who may not have this innate desire before engaging sexually can have the desire 'kick in' later once they're relaxed and becoming physically aroused.

This is an important fact to remember for those couples in which more times than not, they put off sex due to a woman not being "in the mood". If a woman is open or willing to engage with herself or a partner sexually her libido and desire may follow suit.

To me, sexual desire and sexuality are two different but related things.  Sexuality is the degree of comfort you have in behaviourally expressing your sexual nature.  Its about you.  For example, wearing high heels and a swishy skirt to make you feel sexy and feminine.  That is different than wearing the same items out for the evening because you want to attract someone to take home at the end of the party.  So, to me, sexuality is how you feel inside, about yourself, and sexual desire is how you feel about wanting someone else regarding sexual activity.
Ian Kerner, PhD
Sexual Health

There’s a lot of confusion out there about how much sex we’re “supposed” to be having. Images in the movies, on television, and sex advice in magazines seem to send the message: the more sexual desire, the better. And while we’re all for a healthy, robust sex life, sexual desire is a complicated part of each person’s sexuality. Sexual desire is part of what makes us who we are sexually, whether single or in a relationship.

Not all those with a high sex drive express it with sexual behavior with a partner, because our values, morals, life experiences, and available partners all affect how sexual desire plays out. Similarly, not all who are sexually active are always expressing something healthy or authentic.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.