Four Most Common Reasons Why Women Avoid Having Sex

Research has found that women are more likely to avoid sex than men and that around 40% of women have avoided sex at some point in their lives. The reasons for avoiding sex are varied, but most women report avoiding sex due to tiredness, stress, relationship issues, and medical reasons.

Key takeaways:
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    Statistically, women are more likely than men to avoid sex, with around 41% of women avoiding sex at some stage in their life.
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    Research has found many reasons women avoid sex, the most common being tiredness, illness, relationship issues, stress, and anxiety.
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    These issues often lead to a loss of sexual desire and arousal, which causes women to avoid sex.

1. Tiredness and fatigue

The modern-day expectation of women to ‘do it all' is very tiring. Despite the advancements of the feminist movements, a lot of women are expected to have a fulling career, raise children and take on the majority of the household labor. Being tired, or overwhelmed, is an easy way to put the break on sexual desire. Scientists have found a strong link between a lack of sleep and a decrease in desire and arousal. One study found that an hour's increase in sleep length increased a woman's likelihood of having partnered sex by 14%. The study also found that women who slept longer, on average, reported better genital arousal than those women who had less sleep. Furthermore, a study found that women with obstructive sleep apnea were likely to report experiencing sexual dysfunction, and this instance was reduced after a year of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment.

This reason is particularly valid for new mothers and, even more so, first-time mothers, as breastfeeding, diaper changing, and the general stress of being a new parent are incredibly tiring. One study found that being too tired was the number one reason that new parents had for their decrease in sexual activity. Pregnant women have also been found to avoid sex as a result of fatigue.

2. Stress and anxiety

Much like tiredness, being stressed or burned out is likely to cause a decrease in a woman's desire and arousal. Stress’ negative effect on desire and arousal has long been studied and observed in humans and animals. When under pressure, the body goes into flight or fight mode, solely focusing on the task at hand, ignoring everything that isn’t attributed to survival (like sex).

When chronically stressed, the body produces the adrenal hormone cortisol, decreasing the amount of testosterone, the hormone partly responsible for sexual desire in women. This leads to a decrease in sexual desire and arousal, making some women avoid sex.

Chronic levels of cortisol can lead to diabetes, which can cause a high rate of sexual dysfunction. One study examining women with type 2 diabetes found that 78% reported some type of sexual dysfunction, including problems in lubrication, decreased sexual desire, difficulties with arousal, painful sex, and the inability to orgasm. A small study on women with type 1 diabetes found similar outcomes, with 51% of women reporting sexual dysfunctions.

Additionally, certain medications commonly used to treat stress and anxiety, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other antidepressants, have been found to decrease genital sensitivity and the ability to orgasm in women.

3. Relationship issues

This one may sound obvious, but one of the main reasons that women avoid having sex is due to relationship problems with their partner. A recent study found that women were more likely than men to avoid sex due to relationship issues. The 2020 study found that women who had lower levels of relationship satisfaction and relationship intimacy were more likely to avoid having sex with their partners. Of these women, younger women and women in long-term relationships were more likely to report avoiding sex than older women and women in shorter relationships.

4. Medical issues

As stated above, certain medical issues, like diabetes, decrease a woman's sexual desire. A large number of other diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and urological issues, can lead to sexual dysfunction or sex avoidance. For example, research has found that those who have suffered from a heart attack avoid sex for fear of its reoccurrence.

Hormonal issues and menopause can affect the lining of the vagina, making it thinner and less elastic, which can cause pain during sex. Menopause and other hormonal problems also reduce vaginal lubrication, which can make sex painful. A change in hormones can also decrease sexual desire and arousal.

Furthermore, women often avoid sex if their partner is ill for fear of hurting them or exasperating their symptoms.

Many women have reported avoiding sex and are likelier to do so than men. There are many reasons that women report avoiding sex. However, research tells us that some of the most common reasons are tiredness and fatigue, stress and anxiety, relationship issues, and medical issues. These issues often decrease a woman's sexual desire and arousal and lead them to avoid sex.

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