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How to Deal with Sexual Frustration

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Erica Garza

Published 09/24/2021

Updated 05/27/2024

Many assume sexual frustration only happens to people with a high sex drive. But it could happen to anyone. Whether your libido is high or low, and no matter if you’re single or partnered, you can be sexually frustrated if there’s a disconnect between your sexual desires and your level of sexual satisfaction.

Sure, when a guy says he’s sexually frustrated, it could mean he has a higher libido (sex drive) than his partner. Or it might be because he’s in a long-distance relationship and can’t see his partner, or he doesn’t even have a partner with whom to satisfy his sexual desires.

But it could also mean he’s dealing with a sexual performance issue like erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE), or anorgasmia (difficulty reaching orgasm)  — all legitimate barriers to having a healthy sex life.

If you think you may be dealing with symptoms of sexual frustration, keep reading to find out what might be causing your dissatisfaction and explore tips for getting your sexual needs met.

What does sexually frustrated mean, anyway? Sexual frustration is an imbalance between sexual desires and sexual satisfaction. When a gap develops between what you want sexually and what you get sexually, it can lead to feelings of frustration, like annoyance, the longer your sexual needs go unmet.

While most people think a lack of sexual activity is the main driver of dissatisfaction, sexual frustration can also happen when you have sex regularly but don’t feel fully satisfied afterward.

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 you might be sexually frustrated:

  • You feel unsatisfied with your sex life. The most obvious sign of sexual frustration is that you don’t feel satisfied with your sexual experiences. This could be because you don’t have sex often enough or you don’t enjoy the sex you’re having, leading to unmet desires.

  • 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 should be (or once was), especially if there’s a mismatch between what you and your partner want in the bedroom.

  • You and your partner disagree about the frequency of sex. People’s libidos differ. If you want sex more often than your partner, it could 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. But when masturbation and porn are more appealing than sex with your partner, it’s usually a sign something isn’t right. 

  • You’re losing interest in sex with your partner. When your sex life is really unfulfilling, it can affect your level of attraction to 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 ED 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 committed relationship. 

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Now that you know the meaning of sexual frustration, what causes it? Just about everyone experiences sexual frustration from time to time, and the root cause will vary from person to person.

Numerous factors can contribute to these feelings, including not getting enough physical intimacy, sexual relationship hiccups, and mental health issues — to name a few.

Factors that may cause sexual frustration include:

  • Being unable to have sex when you want to

  • Spending long periods away from your sexual partner

  • Differences between your sex drive and your partner’s sex drive, also known as sexual desire discrepancy or mismatched libidos

  • Feelings of guilt, anxiety, or internalized stigma about sex

  • Stress and frustration caused by your job or education

These are issues you may want to discuss with a therapist, whether on your own or with your romantic partner.

Medical Causes of Sexual Frustration

Sometimes, sexual frustration stems from health conditions or sexual dysfunctions like ED, premature ejaculation, or low libido.

Contrary to popular belief, ED doesn’t just affect older men. According to research, about 40 percent of men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction by age 40.

Likewise, premature ejaculation is common among men of all ages. Research published in the International Journal of Impotence Research states that the worldwide prevalence of PE is roughly 30 percent.

Some mental health conditions might also affect your sexual performance or level of interest in sex, which may lead to sexual frustration.

For example, people with depression often develop a reduced sex drive. 

Certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety, like 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 turn into a serious annoyance that impacts your moods and gets in the way of your relationship(s).

The good news is that sexual frustration doesn’t need to be something you suffer through over the long term.

Here’s what you can try to relieve sexual tension and put your frustration in the rearview mirror.

Channel Your Energy Into Something Productive

If you’re single, one of the best things you can do to deal with sexual frustration is to channel all your pent-up sexual energy into something productive and meaningful.

This could mean working on a creative project, focusing on your career, or spending time at the gym to improve your physical fitness. 

Use your sexual frustration as a source of motivation to get things done and make real progress in your life.

Other ideas include volunteering, spending time with friends and family, going to social events and meet-ups, or learning a new hobby or skill. 

Not only will this take your mind off sex, but it’ll also make you more attractive to potential dates, improving your sexual prospects for the future. 

Focus on Taking Care of Yourself

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 grooming and hygiene habits to slip, or ignoring your physical and mental needs like sleep, nutrition, and regular contact with 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. 

Be Open and Honest With Your Partner

If you’re in a relationship and don’t feel sexually satisfied, one of the best things you can do is gently and politely let your partner know.

Transparent, open communication is the key to a successful relationship — both when it comes to sex and in terms of 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 to them about steps you could take to spice things up, like using sex toys, fantasy role-play, or even listening to sexy podcasts together — and then put your plan into action.

To get things started and strengthen your sexual connection with your partner, try some of the following techniques.

Show Your Partner What You Like

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 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.

Try Initiating Sex More

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 might find that you don’t have spontaneous sex as often as before.

To relight the fire, try to initiate sex more often. Mention to your partner that you’re in the mood or, if you’re feeling bold, take their hand and invite them into the bedroom. If you’re feeling really bold, pick them up and carry them in. 

Sometimes, a spontaneous gesture is all it takes to switch the fire back on and seriously improve your sex life.

Set Aside Time for Sex

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 with each other is a surprisingly effective way to not let your lack of free time become a lack of sex. 

Choose your chew

Focus on Building Closeness and Connection

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.

Treat Sexual Performance Issues With Medication

As mentioned above, sexual frustration isn’t just caused by relationship problems but also by sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.

The good news is that these conditions are treatable with medication. If you have ED, you might consider using a PDE5 inhibitor, like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®), or avanafil (Stendra®).

These medications are now as discrete as ever, available in tablet form or as chewable hard mints. They work by increasing blood flow to the penis and can be taken on-demand or daily.

Premature ejaculation, on the other hand, can be treated with prescription medications, such as sertraline and paroxetine, or topical treatments like our Delay Spray for Men or  Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes.  

If Nothing Works, Consider Ending the Relationship

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. Staying in a relationship that makes you feel sexually frustrated, unfulfilled, and unhappy can have a negative effect on your sexual health and your overall well-being as an individual.

If you’ve tried talking to your partner about your issues without any success, you may want to rethink your relationship status. 

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 crucial to keep in mind that ending things with your partner won’t necessarily get rid of your feelings of frustration. In fact, it could make things worse if you go through a dry spell after the relationship.

Consider Talking to a Mental Health Professional

If you’re wondering what happens when a man is sexually deprived, there are a few myths floating around.

Let’s be clear: Sexual frustration is never an excuse for aggression, violence, or force. You should seek mental health support if you feel these urges.

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 well-being, your finances, or the quality of your relationship, you might think about talking to a mental health professional.

Several types of mental health providers can help with sex-related issues, such as individual therapists, sex therapists (sexologists), and couple’s therapists. Talk therapy can also be helpful if you’re dealing with psychological ED

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Sexual frustration is something we all experience — and like pretty much every sex-related problem, it’s also something that’s solvable. Remember:

  • Sexual frustration can happen to anyone. Whether you have a low libido, a high libido, are single, or partnered, you can be sexually frustrated if you feel like there’s an imbalance between what you want sexually and what you’re getting.

  • There are many contributing factors. Sexual frustration can stem from a lack of sex or a lack of satisfaction from the sex you’re having. You can also be sexually frustrated if you struggle with ED or premature ejaculation.

  • You can do something about it. From talking to your partner to taking medication, there are numerous things you can do to transform your sexual frustration into a more satisfying sex life.

Want to learn more about improving your sex life and overcoming sexual frustration for good? Check out these ways to spice up your sex life.

We also have tips and techniques for having sex with ED and non-penetrative sex ideas

3 Sources

  1. Carson C, et al. (2006). Premature ejaculation: definition and prevalence.
  2. Lakin M, et al. (2018). Erectile Dysfunction.
  3. Phillips RL, et al. (2000). Depression and sexual desire.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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