Mid-life crises have brought a number of people to my Houston marriage counselor office, but there’s one big part of these problems that you rarely ever hear about – lowered libido.

If you’re a woman over the age of 40 in the U.S., there’s a fairly decent chance that you may have been diagnosed as having a “low libido.” This isn’t exclusive to women – men’s sex drives can go down as well – but for the female half of the species, it seems to be something of an epidemic, and it’s not surprising that this can lead to some serious relationship issues.

After all, sexual intimacy is a big part of what makes us feel close to each other and bonded together, and when it goes away, partners on both sides can start to feel ashamed, unloved, inadequate, and even angry. A lack of connection is a major reason why many affairs begin, because if it’s not there in our romantic relationship, we’ll want to fulfill that need somehow.

Here’s the thing, though. That epidemic – it’s not real.

Houston Marriage Counselor: The Low Libido “Epidemic” Is Social and Cultural

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that American society is ageist. We worship youth culture and try like crazy to keep ourselves from getting old, and when it inevitably happens, many of us – especially women – tend not to feel good about themselves.

How do I know that this problem is uniquely American? Because you can compare us to other countries. While we agonize over the aging process and obsess over each hair lost and each wrinkle gained, it wouldn’t be strange to see a middle-aged woman happily sunning herself on a nude beach in Europe. And just try to have a conversation about menopause with an Asian woman. They don’t know the minutiae – it’s just a part of life.

Low Libido Is Largely Emotional, Says Houston Marriage Counselor

Before anyone gets up in arms, let me clarify that there are quite a few people out there who really do have actual physical problems that lower their sex drive. Those cases are not what I’m talking about here.

I’m referring to the people who just don’t feel as interested in sex anymore after gaining five pounds or noticing a bald spot. They don’t feel attractive. They don’t feel good about who they are, so why would they want someone else intimately touching and looking at them?

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, this pulling away from intimacy causes relationship issues. To break through it, both partners have to work hard, and it may be helpful to work with an experienced Houston marriage counselor.