By Julia Guerra
- There are a lot of reasons you and your partner may not be enjoying sex, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with compatibility.
- In some cases, the reason can be rooted in painful pre-existing conditions or low testosterone levels.
- The reasons can also include a lack of communication about insecurities and desires.
Sex isn’t always as effortless and enjoyable as it’s sometimes portrayed in the movies and media. Sometimes you and your partner can fall into a lull or have a bit of difficulty finding what works and feels best for you both. When it comes to not enjoying sex with your partner, there are a lot of potential causes that may be worth looking into or discussing.
Here are some reasons you and your partner may not be enjoying sex.
Editor’s note: This post contains some information that may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault or trauma.
You’re not taking time to figure out what you both enjoy.
When it comes to sexual preferences and libido, everyone is a bit different. So if you and your partner aren’t enjoying sex, you may need to communicate about how you’re feeling. It may also take a bit of time for you both to discover what you both enjoy.
“Porn and mainstream movies almost always depict sex as effortless and intuitive, so when people get together, they are surprised and upset when it’s not immediately super good,” Dr. Jill McDevitt, sexologist, sexuality educator, sexual wellness coach for CalExotics explained. “This is also true for more experienced folks with a new partner, because everyone is different. In my field, we love the quote, ‘Sex is perfectly natural, but not naturally perfect.'”
McDevitt advises being patient with yourself and your partner. She suggests taking time to read books about sex, take a sex class, experiment with new techniques and, most importantly, give feedback to and receive feedback from your partner.
You might be experiencing a sex phobia.
If you experience feelings of anxiety or fear when it comes to sex, intimacy, vulnerability, or other sex-related emotions or actions, you could be suffering from erotophobia, a sex-related or sexuality-related phobia, said McDevitt. In some cases, erotophobia can develop as a result of sexual trauma, abuse, or harassment.
There can be a variety of treatments that may help including seeing a therapist or going to therapy with your partner.
You aren’t communicating your needs to one another.
Communication and honesty are important for any successful relationship, especially when it comes to sex.
“Your partner may feel more like you do about sex than you think; but you’ll never know that unless you’re willing to express your own feelings and listen to them,” Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist, and author of “How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together,“ told INSIDER. “Being honest means not only telling the truth but also being willing to hear the truth from each other.”
Your testosterone levels could be low.
Testosterone is an androgen hormone that is produced in the testicles and ovaries. When testosterone levels are high, typically your sex drive is also. But if testosterone levels are low, you can probably expect the same for your libido.
“Testosterone levels drop with age in both men and women, leading to low libido, fatigue, and decreased muscle mass,” Chirag Shah, MD, and co-founder of Accesa Labs, a lab service that offers testosterone testing, told INSIDER. “Fortunately, a low testosterone level is a generally fixable cause of a low sex drive and can be measured using simple blood tests.”
You or your partner are dealing with a condition that’s making sex painful.
There are many medical conditions that could cause sex to be painful or uncomfortable for you or your partner.
“There are some medical causes of sexual pain, including skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, pain conditions due to overgrowth of nerves, endometriosis, and vaginismus, an involuntary clenching of the vagina that develops in anticipation of pain and is painful in itself,” Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist and author of “Sex Without Stress,” previously told INSIDER.
Seeing a doctor or medical professional can help you get to the root of the problem and find ways to help ease your pain or discomfort.
You and your partner aren’t in the mood to have sex at the same time.
Similar to how some people are early risers and others are night owls, some people have a higher libido in the morning while others may have a higher libido at night.
“It’s about compromise,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a NYC-based neuropsychologist and teaching faculty member at Columbia University Teacher’s College. “It’s not fair for the night owl always be expected to have sex in the morning and vice versa. Weekends, holidays and vacations can be used to try flexible times that allow for both partner’s timing preferences.”
Even if the time of day doesn’t play a role in you and your partner’s libido, having sex when both partners are not aroused can result in painful or uncomfortable sex. So, if you find you and your partner haven’t been ready for sex at the same time, it may be worth having a conversation about it.
You or your partner are distracted by stress or other factors.
Third party stressors can take a toll on one’s performance or enjoyment when it comes to sex. Hafeez told INSIDER this can be especially true for parents, as the pressures and demands of parenting can skew their feelings towards sex.
Although the best way to handle this is by discussing it with your partner, taking time to de-stress or to simply enjoy each other’s company may help.
“Sometimes couples need to change things up and introduce some novel approaches via toys, new sex positions or even taking a hotel room for a night to get out of their own environment,” Hafeez added.
Your sex drives haven’t been compatible lately.
At the beginning of a relationship, your sex drives might have been in sync, but once you and your partner have been together for a longer period of time, sometimes one partner has a higher sex drive than the other.
Keep in mind that this dynamic doesn’t necessarily mean either you or your partner are falling out of love, or are less attracted to each other. Oftentimes it comes down to hormones and fulfillment of libido and in many cases, Hafeez told INSIDER, it is something that can be worked through.
“Therapists can work with the person whose sex drive is lower to see if there’s anything they can do to increase it,” she explained. “And, through therapy, one can also work with the person whose sex drive is higher [and help them work on] being patient with their partner and managing their expectations around sex.”
Keep in mind, that, in addition, not everyone is interested in having sex and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.