If you are not engaging in sex as frequently as you like, you’re not alone. Sexual dissatisfaction and inactivity are increasing - recent research shows that 1 in 3 men in the U.S. aged 18 to 24 did not engage in sex in the past year.
But while feelings of sexual frustration are common, many people do not understand why they feel so frustrated or what they can do to minimize these feelings.
The key to reducing your sexual frustration is to find out what’s causing it and the steps you can take, whether it’s talking to a therapist or listening more to your body.
Below we include a guide that explains everything you need to know about sexual frustration, from causes to solutions.
What Is Sexual Frustration?
Sexual frustration is the overall dissatisfaction with one’s sex life. It can be due to both the amount of sex you’re having or the quality of the sex you’re having. You could have frequent sex and still be sexually frustrated, or you may feel like you’re not having sex enough or your needs don’t get met during sex.
Horniness and sexual frustration often get confused, but they’re not the same. Being horny means you have the desire and arousal for sex, but it usually has a positive implication. We use horny to tell our partner that we are turned out.
You can be horny without being sexually frustrated, which is often the case. But being horny without having your sexual needs met is what will lead to frustration.
Sexual frustration isn’t an official medical diagnosis or condition. It’s a common feeling that many people experience, especially as you’re navigating your sex life as a young adult.
Signs You’re Sexually Frustrated
Life is full of stressors, and it’s easy to get into a funk sometimes. But being short with your partner or getting extra frustrated at work one day may not be the issue that appears on the surface - you could be sexually frustrated.
Being sexually frustrated often will impact other areas of our life. Below we include some potential signs that you’re sexually frustrated.
None of these behaviors 100% indicates that you’re sexually frustrated, but they are common behaviors you should use to ask yourself how you’re feeling about your sex life.
- Frequent arguing in a relationship
- Living through friends’ sex lives
- Being much more sensitive than usual
- Increase jealousy and frustration toward others, especially who your partner is nice to
- Giving up and feeling hopeless about your sex life
- Increased porn consumption
- Leading topics back to sex
- Trouble sleeping
- Starting fights for no reason
- Using binge drinking or other stimulants to cope
- Increased display of physical touch or trying to connect
- Asking a partner often about or for sex
- Checking out mentally and fantasizing about sex
If any of these signs sound familiar, you may be going through a period of sexual frustration.
Luckily, you don’t have to feel this way forever. Understanding the causes of your frustration and what you can do about it will help you feel more satisfied with your needs.
What Leads to Sexual Frustration?
People usually experience sexual frustration for reasons including poor sexual connections, low libido, or dissatisfaction with their sex life in general.
But there may be a few factors at play. It’s important to understand what could be contributing to your sexual frustration because it will help you address it properly.
For instance, you may feel sexual frustration with your partner because you don’t enjoy yourself during sex. But look a little deeper - is it that person, or are you experiencing an underlying issue like anxiety that decreases your libido and ability to orgasm?
Once you identify the issues that are causing sexual frustration, you can start to solve those problems and improve your sex life.
Lack of Partners
Not having someone to have sex with is the most obvious cause of sexual frustration. You may be ready, able, and wanting to have sex, but you haven’t found a sex partner.
This could be for many reasons: you haven’t found someone that matches your type, you may feel uncomfortable online dating, and you may not trust someone new.
You may also be wanting to have sex with someone who is not available, like an old partner or someone you like that is already in a relationship.
A lack of a partner to have sex with is a natural occurrence for many people that can cause loneliness, which in turn can cause sexual frustration.
Talking about sex and even negotiating is an important part of any relationship, but people often don’t know how to communicate what they need. They make feel uncomfortable bringing up their needs or don’t want to start a fight with their partner.
We’re often not taught as we grow up about how to talk about sex and desire comfortably. Many people never learn the skills to discuss what sex should look like in a relationship.
Without this communication, sexual needs can be unmet and ignored. At some point, a partner may even stop initiating sex and give up because they’re not satisfied. They may end up in a sexless relationship which will significantly impact the relationship’s overall health.
Our Physical Needs
The physical benefits of sex make it such a pleasurable activity for us. A healthy sex drive of course includes pleasure and orgasms, which make us feel amazing at the moment. But sex is also great for physical health.
It’s a great stress-reducer. It can also reduce pain, improve sleep, and make heart health better. Without the rejuvenating feelings of sex, your body may start to feel out of tune and tense because of the pent-up energy inside of it.
Whether you’re not having sex frequently enough or your partner is not meeting your needs during sex, a lack of physical pleasure during sex means you will miss out on all of the other physical benefits.
Our Emotional Needs
It’s important to understand that humans are emotional beings with basic emotional needs. Even if we’re bad at connecting with others, we still need this connection - it’s in our wiring.
Sex is a need that’s often considered to be on the same baseline as food and water. We’re sexual beings, so we need sex to feel emotionally satisfied, especially if we’re having sex with a partner we care about.
When we don’t get our sexual needs met by someone we care about, it is frustrating because we naturally consider it a part of the human experience.
Many medical issues may impede the ability to have sex or orgasm, which can naturally lead to sexual frustration.
Certain mental health conditions can decrease libido, like anxiety and depression. These conditions are quite common - anxiety disorders affect almost 20% of the U.S. population almost every year.
People suffering from anxiety may have a lower desire to have sex or have difficulty finding and trusting a partner, which can cause sexual frustration.
Others may suffer from physical barriers like genital discomfort, hormonal imbalances, and side effects of medications that make it difficult to enjoy sex. Even if they want to have sex, it is painful or not satisfying.
Some medical issues may increase sexual desire, which can also cause frustration if those desires are not being met by a partner.
Persistent arousal disorder is a medical condition that causes constant states of arousal, even after an orgasm. This condition may cause frustration for someone who is not having the amount of sex they need to satiate their desires.
Physical Ways to Address It
The tension of sexual frustration can pass naturally as you go about your day, so waiting it out is often one way to handle it. But if you prefer to stop it yourself, you have plenty of outlets you can use to relate that energy.
Sex is of course a physical experience. The first course of action for reducing those feelings of sexual frustration is to take care of your body’s physical needs.
Below we include a few of the ways that you can give more attention to your physical needs. Changes like altering your diet and engaging in solo sex can make a noticeable difference in coping with sexual frustration.
Masturbation is a completely normal and healthy part of your sex life - even if you’re in a relationship. Research shows that 78% of adults in the world masturbate, and this number is likely higher.
Pleasuring yourself solo is a great way to remind yourself that while having another sexual partner feels great, you can still pleasure yourself on your own. You are a sexual being and it will empower you to remember that you can meet your needs by yourself.
If you’re sexually frustrated but you don’t want to masturbate, you should consider why that is.
Have you been taught that it is wrong? Do you feel uncomfortable with your body? Do you not know how to make yourself come?
It’s common to face problems that prevent you from wanting to masturbate or masturbating in a way that pleasures you fully, and it’s not something you put on yourself to fix. Working with a therapist or even a sex therapist can help you identify the emotional or physical barriers that are preventing you from enjoying solo sex.
Regardless of the amount of sex you’re having, exercise is a positive routine that you should include in your life. The benefits of exercise are universal and consistent.
53% of people say they feel good about themselves after exercising, 40% say exercise puts them in a good mood, and 32% say they feel less stressed after exercise.
Remember that sexual frustration is a form of pent-up physical energy. By exercising, you have an outlet to release this energy while also feeling good about what your body can accomplish. It’s no surprise, then, that so many people feel less stressed after they exercise.
Whether it’s kickboxing, running, or even a yoga class, try out a bunch of different activities that leave you feeling energized and satisfied after your workout. Look for activities that get your blood pumping and your heart rate up. Cardiovascular actuates will trigger an energy release and rush of endorphins that will help to combat sexual frustration.
Take Care of Other Physical Needs
Self care is important. When you’re in a rut, it’s easy to forget your bodily needs. Failing to drink enough water and get enough sleep are two of the biggest culprits.
And how many times have you been deep in a task when you have to go to the bathroom and tell yourself “5 more minutes!” Instead of listening to your bladder?
When you stop listening to your body, it will stop communicating with you about the ways to feel the best you can. If your body is feeling stressed due to poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, or lack of exercise, it may take out all of this stress in the form of sexual frustration.
Once you start to check in with your body about nonsexual needs that will sustain your health, you may find that your sexual frustration does not become as strong. You may be more comfortable masturbating on your own, start to enjoy better sex with your partner, or your sex drive will regulate.
As soon as you become aware of your needs, you can identify what you need and being avoiding sexual frustration.
Try Out Different Kinds of Partners
Many people have the mindset that sex is reserved for relationships only. While this is a legitimate approach, you may not be one of those people. If you want to have sex but don’t want to be in a relationship, you can explore different kinds of partners to have your needs met.
If you would like to have no-strings-attached sex with someone you don’t know, you may opt to have a one-night stand.
If you would like to have someone you know as a sexual partner, you may partake in casual dating or friends with benefits. You will know this person a little better but won’t commit to being in a relationship with them.
Remember that no matter who you’re having sex with or how frequently you’re having sex, you should always use protection with someone unless you are in an exclusive relationship and have both been tested. This will protect you as much as possible from STDs. You should also get tested regularly every 2-3 new partners that you have.
Explore Other Types of Touch
If you’re in a relationship and not satisfied with sex, think about the other types of touch you experience with your partner. Do you feel that you’re not being touched enough? Does your partner not know your sweet spots?
Exploring other types of touch with your partner can help you form a stronger connection that transfers over to the bedroom.
Foreplay becomes especially helpful here - how long are you engaging in foreplay before you have sex? If you’re doing it just to get it over with, the sex may not be as satisfying. But if you’re taking your time with each other’s bodies, sex may be much more rewarding.
Emotional Ways to Address It
To find sexual frustration solutions, you also have to address the emotional aspects of it. Sex is an emotional experience as well as a physical one. Below are a few ways that you can find sexual frustration relief on an emotional level.
Listen to Calming Music
When you’re feeling sexually frustrated, now’s not the time to start listening to your going-out playlist or music that puts you in the mood. Many artists sing about sex and sexual relationships.
While this music is enjoyable to listen to, it’s not going to make you feel good during moments of sexual frustration. Instead, put on some music that will down-regulate you. Chill folk music or acoustic tracks may help calm you down.
Music is a powerful mood regulator, and the music you listen to often influences how you feel, even if you’re not aware of it happening. Keep this in mind when you choose what to listen to.
Mindfulness is an important part of a healthy life, no matter the circumstances. It can help relieve stress, improve sleep, reduce pain, and even make medical conditions feel better.
The practice of mindfulness is so helpful because it keeps you focused on the present moment and what you’re feeling. It helps you to accept your thoughts as they come and let them pass, instead of judging or resenting yourself.
Having feelings of sexual frustration may make you be hard on yourself or get angry for having those feelings, and can even lead to you blaming yourself. The reality is that sexual frustration happens to everyone at some point - and it’s not your fault. It’s a natural human feeling.
With mindfulness, you can allow yourself to feel those negative feelings as you breathe and try to bring yourself back to the present moment. In the long run, it can help to reduce your stress and prevent you from fantasizing about sex and will keep you engaging with the current moment.
Write Out Your Frustrations
Sometimes all we need is the space to write out what we’re feeling. When you have the physical pent-up energy from lack of sex, that last thing your body needs is to have the pent-up emotional energy, too.
Writing out your frustrations gives you a way to release all of that negative energy that you’re feeling about your sex life. It can help you to let go of those feelings as you write them down.
Having a journal for your frustrations can also help you track patterns. For example, are there certain times of the day that you feel more frustrated? Do you notice that you don’t feel as frustrated on days that you engage in a particular type of exercise?
When you identify what you’re feeling and potentially find out what lifestyle factors are affecting those feelings, you can make changes in your routine that will help you feel better.
Communicate Your Needs With Your Partner
How often do you talk about sex with your partner? Do you discuss what you want and how often you would like sex? Do you ever tell your partner when they do something consistently that doesn’t make you feel good?
Your partner is not a mind-reader. If you’re not having good sex, talking about is the best way to let them know what you need.
Approach the topic of sex with your partner as calmly and confidently as you can. You’ll likely find that doing this will make your partner comfortable to talk about what they need, too, which will make sex better for both of you in the future.
Be prepared to compromise. Every relationship needs a balance in which both partners are satisfied. Remember that you can also fulfill some of your desires - for example, you can masturbate on a day that your partner had a long day at work and is too tired to engage in sex.
Finding Sexual Frustration Relief
Sexual frustration is not a great feeling, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent one. By listening to your body and showing yourself compassion, you can begin to feel more satisfied. Of course, you can always talk to a mental health professional as well if things become overwhelming.
To learn more about health, wellness, and personal growth, view our other blog posts, such as this one about crying after sex.