What is frigidity?

Originally Published: April 26, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 9, 2010
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Dear Alice,

Could you give me some information about frigidity?

Dear Reader,

These days, the term frigidity may be used more often in relation to cold weather than to a person's sexuality. However, dating back to the 15th century, frigidity was used to refer to women who were thought to be indifferent to sex. Instead of frigidity, sex therapists now use the term hypogyneismus, to refer to the inability of women to orgasm under otherwise conducive circumstances.

Other terms people may use instead of frigidity include sexual aversion, sexual apathy, hypoactive sexual desire, or inhibited sexual desire (ISD). Keep in mind that people of any gender may experience sexual apathy; some people may even identify as asexual. Check out Sexual apathy — normal? A problem? in the Go Ask Alice! sexuality archives for a more detailed explanation of low/no sex drive and the continuum of sex drives among people.

Nevertheless, if you or your partner feels that a low sex drive — whatever you may call it — is affecting your personal life (lives) and/or relationship, you may want to consider seeing a health care provider or counselor. If you are a student at Columbia, you can make an appointment to see a health care provider by either calling x4-2284 or by logging in to Open Communicator. You can also see any provider from Counseling and Psychological Services by calling x4-2878 to make an appointment. Counseling and Psychological Services also provides couples counseling if you would like to include your partner in this discussion.

A low/no sex drive may be frustrating if it stands in the way of a fulfilling sex life, but by understanding what may be contributing to it, you'll be able to keep your cool.

Alice