Blog Post

What is Lesbian Bed Death?

Lesbian bed death is an urban legend that looms over every lesbian relationship. While there are debates over whether this phenomenon is real, it is still a frightening prospect for many lesbian couples. Lesbian bed death is the idea that lesbian couples generally have less sex than gay male or straight couples, and that even if the sex is mind-blowing at the start of the relationship, it will gradually peter out, especially after the two year mark.

Where did this idea come from?

In the 1980s, a pair of psychologists conducted a survey on American couples and concluded that lesbian couples have less sex than any other type of couple, and that it decreases as the relationship goes on. Despite being routinely over-sexualised in the media, lesbians also fall victim to the misogynistic perception that women are less interested in sex than men. The fact that lesbians are both over-sexualised and seen as sexless seems completely illogical, but men’s perceptions of women is another can of worms entirely. But is there any truth to the concept of lesbian bed death?

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Should I be worried about lesbian bed death?

It’s important to recognise that most couples see their sex life dwindle after a few years in a relationship. It’s by no means something that is limited to just lesbian couples. But there are a few things that can cause more rifts in lesbian relationships than in other types of relationships. 

First of all – many lesbian couples include at least one cis woman, which means there are different hormone cycles, menstrual cycles and (eventually) menopauses to contend with. These cycles can cause fluctuations in sex drive and sometimes – in the case of couples with two cis women – the spikes in sex drive don’t match up. It’s totally normal and natural, but can be hard to navigate. Some lesbians also take birth control to handle periods or acne, which can also affect sex drive.

In relationships with one or more trans women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also cause fluctuations in sex drive and libido that may not always line up with a partner’s libido. Trans women can also experience gender dysphoria, internalised transphobia and other societal pressures that can make it harder to get in the mood and feel sexy.

Lesbians are also well-known for u-hauling (moving in together after three dates), and getting too serious too quickly can speed up the onset of lesbian bed death. Seeing each other constantly can make it easy to forget about having sex as a part of your routine. 

Remember, there are countless factors that affect libido and sex drive and can in turn decrease the amount of sex in lesbian relationships (and really, all relationships). Lots of different medications, particularly mental health medications, can lower libido or make it harder to climax. People’s self esteem and body image can also affect how keen someone is for sex and how much pleasure someone can get out of it. Inevitably, sometimes life just gets in the way. With two work lives, social lives and family lives, in any relationship it can fall to the wayside if you don’t prioritise it. Life is a rollercoaster and it’s easy to focus on riding it out than riding each other.

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What’s the cure?

We are sorry to have to tell you that there is no definitive cure for lesbian bed death. The condition can affect all types of lesbians and all different kinds of lesbian relationships. For some couples, it’s never an issue. For others, both partners are pretty content with having sex less. Lesbian bed death is only an issue if it makes one or both of you feel less satisfied or content in the relationship. While there’s no cure for lesbian bed death that works for every couple, there are a few things you can try to get your sex life back on track if you’re worried that lesbian bed death is creeping into your relationship. 

The top three things that can cure a multidude of relationships are communication, communication and communication. Talk to each other! If you have differing sex drives or libidos, talk about when you get the most turned on, what makes you feel sexy and what gets you in the mood. Work out how you can make time for each other in your schedules. If you’ve been quarantining together during the pandemic, this can exacerbate the issue, so make time that’s no work, just play.

The classic advice for those experiencing a dip in their sex life holds true here too – experiment! Maybe your sex life petered out because things got a bit repetitive and eventually you were just going through the motions. There are plenty of queer-friendly sex toys you can try out together to make things interesting and exciting again. Or look for new positions or tips online that you can try. Not all of them will work for you, but it’s a great starting point to get you playing and exploring each other again.

This is part of our official queer glossary – check it out!