16 Reasons Why Partner May Have Lost Interest in Sex

·15 min read


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Every relationship is different, of course, but for many couples, regular sex is an important part of a fulfilling and healthy relationship. That's why it can feel so distressing when your partner doesn't want to do the deed as often as you do — or worse yet, doesn't seem interested in making love at all. It's even possible that a booming bedroom habit can go bust, and if you're a woman whose boyfriend or husband doesn't want to have sex as often as you'd like (or ever), then you're likely wondering what's causing his low sex drive. The good news: His loss of libido may have nothing to do with you.

What can cause a sudden lack of interest in the bedroom? Certainly, age can (and oftentimes does) have something to do with it — though you may be happy to know that plenty of couples continue to have sex well into their 80s. But age isn't the only thing that can cause a man to lose interest in sex. According to the experts, there are plenty of preventable (and treatable!) explanations for a decline in sexual activity. And while health and physical factors may be part of the issue, it's also possible that your partner isn't interested in sex for an emotional reason.

From health conditions to relationship problems, there are plenty of reasons why your partner may not feel up for a romp in the sack, and here are just a few explanations for a decreased sex drive in men:

1. His work life is overwhelming.

Photo credit: Portra Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Portra Images - Getty Images

When you think of a mistress, you likely picture another person entering the picture. But the "mistress" taking up all of your man's attention and affection could actually be his job. "When men are passionately involved with their careers, they can sublimate sexual excitement that would normally be directed toward their wives," neuropsychologist and life coach Dr. Sydney Ceruto tells Woman's Day. "The accolades, money, and ego boost from being regularly praised, or promoted, can be a turn-on."

Try talking to your partner about some ways you can help him balance out his work-life responsibilities and what boundaries you can establish to keep work out of the bedroom. That way, he can (hopefully!) have an easier time keeping his head in the game while you're getting intimate.

2. He has lower levels of testosterone.

According to a 2016 review published in Urology, testosterone levels decline with age as rapidly as 0.4 to 2 percent annually after age 30. And around 13 percent of the male population has hypogonadism, which is a failure to produce enough testosterone. In addition to a low libido, symptoms of low testosterone can include decreased energy, low mood, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, and even erectile dysfunction, according to Abraham Morgentaler, MD, who's the associate clinical professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and a urologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

As Morgentaler tells Woman's Day, as many as 97 percent of men who have low testosterone levels report a negative impact on their sex lives. Fortunately, the condition can be treated with hormone replacement therapy, stress management, and counseling.

3. He's experiencing male menopause.

According to Mayo Clinic, the term "male menopause," medically referred to as "andropause," describes the age-related decreasing of testosterone levels in men. "Many men find that their interest in sexual connection begins to wane in their 40s and may drop steadily thereafter," clinical psychologist and author Dr. Carla Manly tells Woman's Day. "As testosterone levels drop, many men find that they are less interested in sexual intimacy." Not to worry, though — it's not as sudden or intense as the bodily changes women can sometimes experience later in life.

Dr. Jeanne O'Connell, co-founder of Sylvana Institute for Medical Aesthetics in Maryland, suggests that you don't take it personally if your boyfriend or husband's sexual interest seems less intense than usual — or even non-existent. The reason may simply be biological, not psychological, and instead of closing up, you should talk to him about his sexual feelings and needs, as well as your own.

4. He's looking to pornography for sexual satisfaction.

While plenty of people in healthy sexual relationships watch porn, you may find yourself in trouble if your partner develops a porn addiction. "When porn becomes addictive, a man relies on it to become stimulated instead of relying on his spouse," Les Parrott, PhD, a Seattle-based psychologist and the author of Crazy Good Sex, tells Woman's Day. That's because the neurochemicals flooding a man's brain when he watches porn (also called eroto-chemicals) can be as addictive as cocaine.

According to Parrott, studies have shown that porn fuels unrealistic expectations about what sex should be like. It makes men less satisfied with their partners. And as Manly points out, "Given the easy availability of pornographic material, chronic use of pornography is increasingly found to be related to a drop in sexual desire." If you suspect that your husband may be relying a bit too much on sexual gratification from pornography, then Parrott recommends that you both work on acknowledging the problem, talking it out, and perhaps taking the necessary steps to meet with a sex therapist for counseling.

5. He has anxiety about his low sex drive.

Sexual drive is a spectrum, and being on the lower end of the libido and sexuality continuum is not a bad or shameful thing. "No point on this continuum is particularly positive or negative," Manly says. "What matters most is that partners follow somewhere close to each other on the spectrum." That's why tension can arise when one partner is much lower on the spectrum than the other partner, and this anxiety can even lead to erectile dysfunction and other issues that further affect his confidence.

Premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation tend to be common problems for men with erectile dysfunction (ED), and those factors can definitely affect his confidence. "Erectile dysfunction, early ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation might have diverse causes but their common factors — a man’s frustration, worry and feelings of inadequacy — can shut things down sexually between you," Ceruto says. According to WebMD, 95 percent of men with premature ejaculation are helped by behavioral techniques that help control ejaculation, while ED is largely treated with various medications and psychological counseling.

6. He has a health condition.

Photo credit: PeopleImages - Getty Images
Photo credit: PeopleImages - Getty Images

A low sex drive doesn't just mean problems in the bedroom. A man's low libido could be a clue to other concerning health problems, according to Phil Nguyen, MD, an erectile dysfunction expert and owner of Happy Clinic Denver. As he tells Woman's Day, "The penis can be considered a barometer of overall health for men, and if there are problems in this area, it could be symptomatic of larger health issues such as diabetes, prostate cancer, or heart disease."

Ceruto also makes a point to highlight the potential sex drive ramifications of certain health conditions, explaining that "diabetes hastens sexual decline in men by as much as 15 years." While a loss of sex drive doesn't always mean he has a health condition, it wouldn't hurt to mention your concern to him so he can pass along any questions to his doctor.

7. He's overweight.

Yes, it's possible that weight could be diminishing your partner's desire to be intimate. A 2018 study published in Journal of Education and Health Promotion found that obesity and a lack of physical activity led to an increase of sexual dysfunctions in 31 percent of men. "Diabetes and obesity reduce sexual activity," says Ceruto. "Large body mass and poor body image ruin intimacy, which is core to the opportunity of having sex."

According to Eric Plasker, MD, author of The 100 Year Lifestyle, exercising increases endorphins and can make people feel better about themselves, as well as eating healthy foods. "Those who eat heavy, fattening, greasy or overly sugary foods may feel tired and sluggish, not sexy," Plasker tells Woman's Day.

8. He's stressed.

Just like physical health, mental health can also affect sexual desire. "Anxiety, depression, and distress can all quash desire," explains Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast. "Although no experience is universal, some people lose interest in sex during periods of stress." Grief, loss, and times of transition, among other stressors, can all affect the desire for sex, and when you respond to your partner's low sex drive with frustration or anger, then his stress will likely only increase.

According to Plasker, "Those under an extreme amount of stress often lose their sex drive temporarily," so it's possible that this period will pass with some patience. Sure, you can't remove the source of his stress or turn investments from red to green on the stock charts, but you can encourage your husband or partner to make simple changes that will help him maintain his mental and physical health, reduce his levels of daily stress, and boost his libido.

9. He's doing fine on his own.

In other words, your partner could be masturbating too much. "He doesn't want to negotiate sex and so takes his desire, literally, into his own hands," Ceruto explains. "Some men feel exquisite vulnerability at being dependent on another person for their desire to be quenched." As a result, men may masturbate to porn or their own fantasies because it's quick and efficient.

It could also be the case that he receives more pleasure on his own time. "If a man is spending a lot of time masturbating, he can become accustomed to a higher, more intense level of sexual stimulation, which is stronger than he can get from the vagina," Hilda Hutcherson, MD, an ob-gyn and the author of What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex, tells Woman's Day. "This can eventually make it hard for him to enjoy sex with you." If this is the case, then trying talking to him about ways the both of you can switch things up to make sex more enjoyable for everyone.

10. He isn't receiving enough physical affection from you.

According to Raphael Darvish, MD, MBA, a physician with Concierge Medicine in Los Angeles, your boyfriend or husband's disinterest in sex could be because you're not showing him enough everyday affection. "Not feeling wanted and no or limited physical contact can really hurt a relationship," Darvish tells Woman's Day. A spontaneous hug, kiss, or back rub can go a long way, especially if it feels like the spark is missing from your day-to-day interactions.

As O'Reilly points out, the term "sex drive" is a bit of a misnomer, as it suggests that the desire for sex is innate. "Desire can be responsive," she says, "which means that you can cultivate it through touch, connection, communication, intimacy, fantasy, and other sexual stimuli." Showing a little more physical affection won't just make your partner feel wanted and loved — O'Reilly says it can also inject "excitement, novelty and unpredictability" into your romance, in turn making sex feel less routine and more rejuvenating.

11. He feels rejected.

Intimacy requires vulnerability, and when someone's ego gets bruised in the bedroom, it can be tricky to recover. “For some men, all it takes is [one rejection] for this to make a big impression on them," Marie Murphy, a relationship coach with a PhD in the sociology of sexuality, tells Woman's Day. According to her, that lingering feeling of rejection can make someone reluctant or even unwilling to initiate sex again.

Previous experiences with rejection — either from you or from others — could also leave your boyfriend or husband thinking that you’re not interested in sex with him, so he gives up without even trying. "Partners who have fostered and maintained true sexual intimacy — which is based on deep emotional connection — are generally far more impervious to lasting shifts in sexual interest and activity," says Manly. A relationship therapist can help you navigate through any miscommunications throwing your bedroom time out of whack.

12. He's started seeing someone else.

Photo credit: Peter Cade - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Cade - Getty Images

It’s certainly not always the case, but sometimes when your man isn’t as interested in getting naked with you, it’s because they're getting naked with someone else. “There are no definitive, across-the-board, telltale signs of cheating unless you catch your partner red-handed, or they own up to what's going on," Murphy says. However, she notes that sometimes, "a lack of interest in sex is a sign someone is cheating.”

Boredom, repetition, and predictability can affect the desire for sex — and these factors can also compel someone to seek sex elsewhere, especially if novelty is what they desire. As Manly says, "Many males find that their sex drive is highest during the courting phase of a relationship. Some men find that their interest dissipates after having successfully 'captured' a partner; this can arise from the very primitive instinct to attract a partner simply in order to procreate." Keep an eye out for other signs your partner might be cheating. You may need to confront them.

13. Your relationship dynamic is a libido-killer.

Unfortunately, sometimes relationships can have problems that affect the sex drive of both partners, especially if you two are having issues outside of the bedroom. "Conflict, tension, resentment, frustrations arising from uneven division of labor, and bickering can all detract from sexual desire," O'Reilly explains. Other relationship issues that can be toxic to sex life include falling into a parent/child dynamic or comparing your man to past sexual partners.

Additionally, if you find yourself assuming that your partner should want to have sex all the time just because “they’re the guy,” that’s an issue, Natalie Finegood Goldberg, LMFT, CST-S, a sex therapist who specializes in men’s sexual health, tells Woman's Day. “Men can also be sensitive, need foreplay, [and] courting/flirting, too,” she says. It's worth examining whether your treatment of your partner may be part of why his sex drive has gone missing.

14. He’s drinking too much.

Alcohol and drug use can also damper the male libido, according to Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, psychotherapist, author, speaker and podcast host. That’s because alcohol is considered a nervous system “depressant,” which can affect all sorts of things in the body, including sexual desire.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol or using drugs can make it hard for someone with a penis to get or keep an erection. "Substance use also affects the vascular system, which can directly affect circulation throughout the body, including the genital area," Overstreet adds. If your partner has been drinking more than usual, it's worth raising your concerns and suggesting an evaluation for alcohol use disorder.

15. He's on the asexual spectrum.

The term asexual refers to someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction, but just like sexuality, asexuality exists along a spectrum. Likewise, being on the asexual spectrum doesn't necessarily mean you don't enjoy sex. "Some asexuals may abstain from sex," says O'Reilly. "Others might have it because they enjoy sex despite not experiencing attraction — they might enjoy the physical or emotional elements of sex. Others might engage in sex for a partner’s pleasure."

There are endless ways to live as an asexual person, and if your partner is on the asexual spectrum, then it's important to understand his personal experience of asexuality. "Some aces (short for asexuals) also experience romantic attraction (whereas aromantics do not)," O'Reilly adds. "There is so much pressure to couple up, find partners, and get into a relationship that so many folks who might have identified as asexual or aromantic were never given the opportunity to explore this orientation."

Here are some other terms it may be helpful for you to understand:

Graysexual: You're not asexual, but sexual attraction is rare. You might have experienced sexual attraction at one point and don’t anymore. You might feel some slight attraction infrequently, but don’t want to act on it.

Demisexual: You only experience sexual attraction once an emotional bond is formed. This falls along the asexuality spectrum; no sexual attraction exists until the emotional connection is formed. It’s not a matter of preference — it’s a matter of need.

Autosexual: You often prefer to have sex with yourself by masturbating, rather than with others.

16. He's less naturally inclined to have sex.

If your partner has never been particularly interested in sex, then it could just be that they’re not that into it. “Some men may be less interested in sex ‘naturally’ and be unperturbed by their lack of interest,” Indigo Stray Conger, LMFT, CST, a Denver therapist who specializes in sex therapy, tells Woman's Day. “Desire for sex can be a stressful and energy-consuming cycle they would rather not engage in." In this case, it’s usually a life-long situation that hasn’t changed under new circumstances.

However, O'Reilly points out that sexual desire can be acquired, even if your partner doesn't have a particularly high sex drive. "When we embrace the reality that the desire for sex can be cultivated, we can address 'low' desire," she says. "We can make lifestyle, relational, and practical changes to create the opportunity for desire. And we can do things to get aroused first so that the desire for sex follows." Respect the differences in your libidos, and try to create an environment where sexual desire isn't an expectation but rather something you cultivate together.

You Might Also Like