Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/14/2021
INTRO TEXT UP TO FIRST H2
Put simply, sexual frustration is the sense of annoyance and dissatisfaction you might feel when there’s a difference between what you want sexually, and what you get sexually.
You might feel sexually frustrated if you want to have sex but don’t have a partner, if you’re in a long-distance relationship and can’t see your partner in person, or if you and your partner have different sexual desires and expectations about a healthy sex life.
Sexual frustration can also occur when you have sex regularly, but don’t feel fully satisfied. You may feel sexually frustrated if you have a sexual performance issue such as erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE) or anorgasmia (difficulty reaching orgasm).
Unlike erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and other sexual performance issues, sexual frustration isn’t a recognized condition that’s listed in textbooks and diagnostic manuals.
Because of this, the signs and symptoms of sexual frustration aren’t quite as well defined as the symptoms of other sexual conditions.
Potential signs that you might be sexually frustrated include:
You feel unsatisfied with your sex life. The most obvious sign of sexual frustration is that you don’t feel satisfied with your sex life. This could be because you don’t have sex often enough, or you don’t enjoy the sex you’re having.
You feel interested in sex all the time. If you don’t have enough sex, you may start to think about sex constantly. You might always feel “in the mood” and ready to go, even if the opportunity isn’t available.
Sex doesn’t feel as pleasurable as it should. You might feel like sex isn’t as physically or emotionally fulfilling and pleasurable as it normally is, especially if there’s a mismatch between what you and your partner want in the bedroom.
You and your partner disagree about frequency of sex. People’s libidos differ. If you want sex more often than your partner, this may result in you feeling frustrated and less than satisfied sexually.
Masturbation and porn feel better than sex. Masturbation is healthy and normal, even if you’re in a relationship. However, when masturbation and porn begin to feel better than sex with your partner, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right.
You’re losing interest in sex with your partner. When your sex life is really unfulfilling, it can start to affect your level of attraction for your partner. You might feel less interested than before, both in sex and in your relationship in general.
You feel anxiety about sex with your partner. You might feel anxiety about your ability to perform in bed, especially if your sexual frustration is caused by erectile dysfunction or other sexual performance issues.
You become irritated or distracted easily. When sex is constantly on your mind, you might find it difficult to focus on other things. Your behavior might change, and you may feel stressed or bothered by things more often and easily than normal. You feel tempted to have sex with other people. When your current sex life isn’t very satisfying, you may feel more tempted to have sex with other people, even if you’re in a commited relationship.
Just about everyone experiences sexual frustration from time to time. A variety of factors can all contribute to these feelings, including not getting enough sexual contact, relationship hiccups, mental health issues and more.
Factors that may cause sexual frustration include:
Being unable to save sex when you want
Spending long periods of time away from your sexual partner
Differences in sex drive between you and your partner
Feelings of guilt, anxiety or internalized stigma about sex
Stress and frustration caused by your job or education
Some mental health conditions may also affect your sexual performance or level of interest in sex, which may lead to sexual frustration.
Certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety, such as antidepressants, may cause sexual side effects that can compound this sense of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Sexual frustration is a common, natural experience that affects just about everyone at some point in life.
Yet when it happens, it can quickly develop into a serious annoyance that affects your moods and gets in the way of your relationship.
The good news is that sexual frustration doesn’t need to be something you suffer through over the long term.
Try the following techniques to relieve tension and put your sexual frustration in the rearview mirror:
If you’re single, one of the best things you can do to deal with sexual frustration is to channel all of your pent-up sexual frustration into something productive and meaningful.
This could mean working on a creative project, focusing on your career or spending time in the gym improving your physical fitness.
Use your sexual frustration as a source of motivation to get things done and make real progress in your life.
Other options include volunteering, spending time with friends and family, going to social events and meetups, or learning a new hobby or skill.
Not only will this take your mind off of sex ¸— it also makes you more attractive to potential dates, improving your sexual prospects for the future.
When your sex life is in a slump, it’s easy to let the lack of activity spill over into other areas of your life.
This could mean waking up a little later than normal, allowing your grooming and hygiene habits to slip, or ignoring your physical and mental needs like sleep, good nutrition and regular contact with your friends and family.
Try to focus on taking care of yourself. By making sure your physical and mental needs are met, you’ll end up in a better place for satisfying your sexual needs.
If you’re in a relationship and don’t feel sexually satisfied, one of the best things that you can do is to gently and politely let your partner know.
Transparent, open communication is the key to a successful relationship, both when it comes to sex and when it comes to building trust and an emotional connection.
To clear things up, address the issue with your partner. If you want to have sex more often, talk with them about steps you could take to spice things up — and then put your plan into action.
To get things started together and strengthen your sexual connection with your partner, try using some of the following techniques:
If you don’t feel satisfied during sex because of something your partner is or isn’t doing, don’t feel afraid to show them what you want.
Good sex is all about connection and communication. Let your partner know that you enjoy sex more when something is done a certain way — then show them what they can do to make both of you have a more satisfying, fulfilling experience.
To make things easier, use calm, non-judgmental language. Focus on showing your partner the things you like rather than letting them know what they might be doing wrong.
In the early days of a relationship, it’s normal to have sex often. As time passes and sex with your partner becomes something you’re used to, you may find that you don’t have spontaneous sex as often as before.
To relight the fire, take the initiative. Mention to your partner that you’re in the mood, or if you’re feeling bold, take her hand and invite her into the bedroom. If you’re feeling really bold, pick her up and carry her in.
Sometimes a spontaneous gesture is all it takes to switch the fire back on and seriously improve your sex life.
If you or your partner have a busy work or education schedule, finding time for sex can be a real challenge. One approach you can take is to set aside some quality “relationship time” every few days.
This could mean going out for a romantic dinner beforehand, or just having sex at home. It may sound a little too formal, but scheduling time to spend with each other is a surprisingly effective way to stop your other commitments from affecting your sex life.
As cheesy as it sounds, spending time going out on dates, taking interesting vacations and just getting to know each other better is often the best way to overcome any sexual issues and build a stronger connection.
If sex is often on your mind, try zoning it out and instead focus on enjoying the moment with your partner.
Sometimes, thinking about sex less makes it easier to enjoy the connection you have with your partner.
And when the urge does strike for the two of you (and it will), having sex should feel more exciting and spontaneous.
Sometimes, sexual frustration isn’t caused by a relationship problem, but by sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
Contrary to popular belief, ED doesn’t just affect older men. In fact, according to research, about 40 percent of men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction around age 40.
Likewise, premature ejaculation is common in men in all age groups. Research published in the International Journal of Impotence Research states that the worldwide prevalence of premature ejaculation is approximately 30 percent.
The good news is that these conditions are treatable with medication. If you have ED, you may want to consider using a PDE5 inhibitor medication, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®) and avanafil (Stendra®).
Sometimes, sexual frustration is the result of incompatibility or different expectations about sex between you and your partner.
Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship, and staying in a relationship that makes you feel sexually frustrated, unfulfilled and unhappy can have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing as an individual.
If you’ve tried talking to your partner about your issues without any success, you may want to consider ending your relationship.
Now, this is a serious option that requires serious thinking. Whenever possible, it’s best to talk about your issues and try to solve your problems together, especially if the non-sexual aspects of your relationship are positive.
It’s also important to keep in mind that ending things with your partner won’t necessarily get rid of your sexual frustration. In fact, it could make things worse, especially if you go through a dry spell after the relationship.
Most of the time, sexual frustration is something you can overcome — either on your own or with your partner.
However, if your sexual feelings are starting to have a negative effect on your mental wellbeing, your finances or the quality of your relationship with your partner, you might want to think about talking to a mental health professional.
Several different types of mental health providers can help with sex-related issues that have an impact on your quality of life and relationships, such as individual therapists, sex therapists and couple’s therapists.
If you’d like to talk to someone from home, you can connect with a licensed counselor online via our online talk therapy service.
Sexual frustration is something we all experience — and like just about every sex-related problem, it’s also something that’s solvable.
From talking to your partner to initiating sex more often, channeling your energy into something positive or taking medication to treat sexual issues that are affecting your confidence, there are numerous things you can do to turn sexual frustration into a more satisfying sex life.
Need some help taking the first step? This guide to the best ways to deal with lack of sex in your relationship shares simple but effective strategies you can use to get things back in gear for a more fulfilling, satisfying sexual connection with your partner.
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