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Why do couples stop having sex?

Written by Alice Child, Somatic Sexologist

Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex & Intimacy Counsellor Alice Child explains why so many couples stop having sex, and how to get over over your dry spell.

Couple not having sex

This guide contains general advice only. If you need more tailored advice, please book in a session.

Knowledge is power. When we know what is going on for us, we can learn new ways to reduce our sexual blockers/brakes (aka our turn offs) and prioritise our accelerators (aka our turn ons!).

Nobody feels sexual all the time. It’s very very normal to have periods with little or no desire for sex. It’s called being human! The problem is many couples who come to see me WANT to want sex. They know how important it is for not only their relationship but also their own happiness.

But for one reason or another they can’t seem to increase their libido or get their old sex drive back- even when they are still very attracted to each other. They pile on the pressure, have sex less and less, and it starts to feel like a chore. What’s going on?!

Here are 6 of the common reasons why couples stop being intimate.

Book in a session if you want more tailored support, or check out Pillow Play - a collection of fun sex and intimacy games for couples - designed to help couples learn new things, increase their sexual connection and reconnect erotically!

Why do couples stop having sex?

There are many reasons why sex stops becoming a priority for a couple. Here are the most common reasons I hear about.

Knowledge is power. When we know what is going on for us, we can learn new ways to reduce our sexual blockers/brakes (aka our turn offs) and prioritise our accelerators (aka our turn ons!)

Read the blog here about increasing your sex drive for more information.

1. Stress

Cortisol is a stress hormone that lowers your desire for sex. Sex hormones don’t work when stress hormones are present.

Regulate your stress with self care, boundaries, slowing down & mindfulness. Prioritise time to yourself, and start a daily pleasure practice or mindful masturbation practice.

Holiday sex is great for a reason!

2. Lack of emotional connection

Many people only enjoy sex when there is emotional connection. If they feel disconnected from their partner for any reason, they stop craving sex.

Learn healthy ways to manage conflict, improve your communication skills, talk about each other's love languages, learn how to let go of resentment, and ensure you are both getting your connection needs met!

Have fun together, schedule more date nights, and reconnect as partners. Book in a session if you need support, or check out Pillow Play for fun sex and intimacy connection games to play next date night!

3. Loosing erotic desire

If couples fall into a dynamic where pleasure and erotic connection is deprioritised it's easy to 'lose the spark' and become best friends instead of lovers.

Desire requires a bit of mystery, tension, novelty and newness. In long term relationships, it takes creativity and curiosity to keep this tension and desire alive, and both people need to make it a priority.

It's easy to get caught in day to day responsibilities and responsibility kills desire.

4. Lack of sleep / tiredness / feeling unwell

When we are tired or are feeling under the weather we have less energy, creativity and desire for sex. This is very understandable!

But remember - sexual intimacy and connection is many things. It doesn't need to be hard and fast and it doesn't need to involve any nudity or penetration at all. Get creative and think of new ways to connect intimately.

For example massage, sharing a bath together, reading erotica together, mutual masturbation, hugging, dry humping, cuddles on the sofa, spooning, sexting.

Non sexual intimacy (hugging, kissing, cuddling etc) is vital to keep the flame alive in long term relationships - especially when other forms of sexual intimacy are off the table for one reason or another.

Also consider going to bed earlier and scheduling intimacy. Stop having sex tired!

5. Shame/pressure/embarrassment

When people experience (very normal!) changes in their sex life such as erectile challenges, low body confidence or loss of desire they often feel a lot of shame/embarrassment and put pressure on themselves.

Pressure is never sexy. Talk to a professional - there is nothing to be embarrassed about and these things are very normal.

6. Time aka deprioritising

So many people tell me “I just don’t have the time for sex!”. I get it. Life is busy. But if connection and intimacy is important to you, find a way to make the time. If you can schedule a gym session you can schedule intimacy with your partner.

7. Unsatisfying or painful sex

If the sex you’re getting isn’t fun no wonder you stop craving it. Stop settling for okay sex. Learn what you like and how to ask for what you want and need.

Sex should NEVER be painful or unpleasant, so please book in a session for support. You deserve a great and fulfilling sex life!


Alice x

Alice Child - Somatic Sexologist, Sex Therapy & Sex Counsellor - helps people achieve happier and healthier sex lives through 1:1 sex coaching, couples sex counselling, hens parties, and workshops. Book a session here.


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