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I have no sex drive, and it’s ruining my relationship. What do I do?

  • Published Apr 15, 2024

    11 mins read
  • Written by:Chris Boutté
  • Reviewed by:Lauren Mollica, LMFT
I have no sex drive, and it’s ruining my relationship. What do I do?

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If you or your partner has no sex drive, it’s not as uncommon as you think. There are healthy ways to work through it together.

Some people believe the intimacy issues they’re working through in couples therapy are unique to their relationship. But therapists hear, “I have no sex drive, and it’s ruining my relationship,” way more often than you’d think. Research shows roughly one in five men have a low libido, and the rate is even higher amongst women.

Physical intimacy is important for any marriage, so it’s important to address it and find solutions together. In this post, you will learn some of the causes of a low sex drive, how it impacts relationships, and healthy ways you and your partner can work on it together.

Roughly 20 percent of men and 33 percent of women have a low sex drive.

Is it common to have a low sex drive in a relationship?

As mentioned, about 20 percent of men and 33 percent of women experience a low libido, so it’s actually quite common.

 “Low sex drive in a relationship is very common. Especially when you consider how many factors truly play into your sex drive like your health, phase of life (new parents!), or even distrust within a relationship.”

– Ours therapist, Lauren Mollica, LMFT

It’s important to understand that one of the reasons a low sex drive causes challenges in a relationship is due to how people categorize what’s “normal” or “abnormal.”  There’s no set number for how often couples should be having sex. Couples also face societal challenges as well because culture may influence how often people think they “should” have sex or how someone’s libido “should” be.

For example, people believe all men have a high sex drive and most women have a low libido. Both of these are harmful generalizations that can lead to unrealistic expectations and conflict.

During sex, it’s important to ensure that it’s consensual and your partner never feels pressured based on some of these unhelpful beliefs. It all depends on what’s right for both of you. 

If you’re struggling with a low sex drive, a good place to start is to ask some of the following questions:

  • Is conflict within our relationship that may be contributing to my low sex drive?
  • How comfortable am I with my own body?
  • Have we spent time building emotional intimacy and non-sexual physical intimacy?
  • Are outside influences like work, family, or friends influencing how I feel about my low sex drive?
  • Is there a recent change in my life that may be a cause, or is my sex drive typically low?
  • Have I communicated my personal desires and needs to my partner?

There are ways that you and your partner can work on this together, but couples therapy is also a helpful way to learn how to bring back intimacy to your relationship. A therapist can help with sexual issues while also teaching you about nonsexual ways to be intimate. As we’ll soon discuss, there may also be deeply rooted challenges that you may need to work through with a professional.

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6 reasons for a low sex drive

While low libido in women is more common than in men, both can cause turmoil in a relationship. Having a better understanding of why you have a low libido can help you start working toward a solution. Reasons for a low sex drive can be physical, psychological, or both.

If you’re experiencing a low sex drive, it’s also helpful for your partner to understand some of the reasons as well. Sometimes, a person may feel as though they’re unattractive or undesirable when the reality is that the person may be dealing with other challenges. When your partner understands some of the causes of a low sex drive, it can help them have some empathy and give you both the chance to begin working through it.

1. Underlying health conditions 

If you’re wondering, “Why is my sex drive low?” and have been struggling to find answers, it may be time to see a doctor. There are several physiological reasons that both men and women experience a low sex drive. Some of them include: 

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic pain

One study estimates that 30 million men struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED), which may be a reason for a low sex drive. When dealing with difficulty performing in the bedroom, men may be reluctant to have sex.

Ask your doctor about medications that may be able to help if you have health issues causing a low libido.

2. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes may be a reason for a low sex drive, too. Throughout our lives, we experience hormonal changes, which can cause a lower sex drive. For example, women can experience menopause in their 40s or 50s, which causes hormonal changes. A doctor may be able to recommend medications that can help.
Changes in hormones can affect men in the form of low testosterone levels. In addition to sexual performance issues, symptoms can include fatigue, loss of muscle mass, irritability, and poor sleep. A physician can order blood tests to check your testosterone levels to see if this is the cause.

3. Poor mental health

Trigger warning: It’s important to exercise caution when discussing sensitive matters like this. If you or your partner are uncomfortable discussing traumatic sexual experiences, we strongly recommend not pressing the issue.

Different psychological factors can affect your sex drive, which means that your mental health can play a role. If you’re dealing with high amounts of stress in your life, it can be a primary cause of your low libido. Experiencing symptoms of depression can also cause you to have a lack of a sex drive. If you’re taking medications for your anxiety or depression, they may have side effects that cause you to have a low libido.

Another psychological factor that’s unfortunately more common than people think is sexual trauma. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1 in 6 women and girls have reported experiencing some form of sexual violence. Men can also be victims, with about 3% of American men reporting that they’ve experienced sexual violence. 

If trauma is the source of your libido, it can be helpful to work with a trauma therapist. Couples can also work through it together in marriage counseling or premarital counseling.

4. Unresolved conflicts

For many people, a sex drive is part of biology, but there also often needs to be an emotional connection. If you’re wondering why your husband or wife has no libido, you may want to consider the health of your relationship. Conflicts happen in every relationship, but an unresolved conflict can cause emotional distance between you and your partner. 
If you and your partner have unresolved conflicts, you may find that your sex drive returns when you work through your issues. Some couples struggle to find resolutions, which is why marriage counseling can be so helpful. There are also couples therapy worksheets you can try, which may help as well. If you’re stuck, it may be time to sign up for counseling.

5. A lack of self-esteem

When you’re not feeling sexy, it can lead to having a relationship with no sex. Negative body image impacts women and men alike. In one survey of over 4,000 people, 60 percent of women said their weight, shape, or size largely influenced the way they feel about themselves. The survey also found that 48 percent of people weren’t happy with how their bodies look and feel.

Self-esteem can be related to body image as well as how you feel about yourself in general. Similar to depression, it may take the help of a therapist to overcome some of these issues. It can also help to talk with your partner and get their love and support because they love you for you.

6. Normal phase of life 

Sometimes, it’s completely normal that you have no sex drive. People go through different phases in their lives, and this may just be a time when you have a low libido This can still cause challenges in your relationship, but you can still show your partner love and affection in other ways. Your partner may go through these periods as well, it’s important to continue staying emotionally connected.

Graphic explaining different reasons you may have a low sex drive.

How a low sex drive can affect relationships 

Periods of having a low sex drive can happen in any relationship, which may be completely normal. While normal, it can negatively impact a relationship for different reasons. Your partner may feel undesirable or as though their needs are being unmet. You should never feel pressured into having sex in your relationship, which is why it’s important to have conversations and work together to bring desire and intimacy to the relationship.

As mentioned, there are different causes of a low sex drive, and you may need the help of a professional. Whether it’s a sex therapist, a marriage counselor, or an individual therapist, they may be able to help you. Working with a therapist can help you get to the root of the issues and find practical solutions.

Tips for dealing with a low sex drive in your relationship

Now, we jump into some tips for dealing with your low sex drive with additional advice from Ours therapist, Lauren Mollica, LMFT.

Take care of your body first

Lauren Mollica, LMFT, recommends that partners experiencing no sex drive assess their physical situation first.

“Many things like medication, lack of sleep, or medical issues truly can play a role. It’s important to assess this with a doctor first so that you are fully aware of the options you have.”

As we mentioned above, physiological issues can cause a low libido, and your doctor may be able to help.

Be honest with your doctor and let them know about your low libido. They may be able to run some tests to see if there are hormonal issues or other problems that may be the cause. You may be on medication that’s contributing to your low sex drive without even realizing it.

Explore intimacy together  

If you feel like your lack of a sex drive is harming your relationship, you can work on it with your partner. When having a discussion about it, talk about what feels comfortable while you’re experiencing a low sex drive.

“Maybe it’s just holding hands in bed. Maybe it’s taking a shower together without anything physical happening. Sometimes, taking the pressure and the expectation that sex needs to happen off the table helps create a really safe environment to start exploring it again.”

-Ours therapist, Lauren Mollica, LMFT

Having these physically intimate moments without the pressure of sex can help you and your partner build a connection. As you continue working together and having conversations, you may find that you’re becoming closer, and you may find that your sex drive returns naturally.

Seek help for your trauma

A history of trauma can be a primary source of a lack of a sex drive. When people experience trauma, being physically intimate can cause your mind and body to respond in a protective way. This is a survival mechanism that is meant to protect you, but it can also cause problems in your relationship.

It’s often beneficial to seek the help of a local therapist who specializes in trauma. They can help you address your trauma and begin the healing process. Some couples counselors also specialize in trauma, so you can do this with your partner if you feel comfortable. How you address your healing process is up to you, but you should consider seeking help if it’s harming your relationship.

Graphic with three tips for dealing with a low sex drive like seeing a doctor or couples therapist.

How couples therapy can help you reignite your relationship

If you have no sex drive and it’s causing conflict in your relationship, you’re not alone. This can be a difficult topic to navigate with your partner, and some people don’t have the tools necessary to find solutions. Fortunately, you can seek the help of a licensed marriage counselor.

Here at Ours, we provide virtual marriage and premarital counseling to help you and your partner heal and strengthen your relationship. We have a team of licensed therapists, and we hand-match you with the therapist who is right for you. To get started, sign up today.

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