Ask a sex therapist about the most common complaint couples have and it is likely to be mismatched sex drives. In other words, one partner desires sex more frequently than the other.

In a recent column, a woman complained that she didn’t have enough energy for sex after working, housekeeping, cooking and taking care of a baby grandson. She wanted to know if there was anything she could feed her husband to dampen his desire.

Other women wrote in to sympathize with her. Most felt her husband should pitch in with the housework and the cooking. They suggested that if he had to work as hard as she did, he’d be worn out and less interested in sex too.

A couple of male readers disagreed. One said, “Are you kidding me? While the man is doing all the chores, he’ll be thinking about his reward when he finishes. A man is never too tired for sex! He will swim the widest ocean, climb the highest mountain and fight the strongest lion, all in the interest of sex.”

Another shared his perspective: “You apparently seem to know very little about what factors affect one’s sexual drive. I have been married three times, and in all cases my wives were unable to keep up with my sexual needs.

“I consider myself fairly intelligent, a good conversationalist, empathetic to all life and fairly good looking. I adore women and respect their individuality and personal beliefs. But sex is always at the front of my mind.
“Even when I worked long days and came home exhausted, my sex drive was always in high gear. It still is, even though I am now 71 and retired.

“I do not pretend to understand what determines sex drive. I only know that I have always enjoyed my own sexual appetite and hope to do so until I die. Perhaps someday I will meet a lady of a like mind where sex is concerned and we can both be happy and totally satisfied.”

Most people assume that men are more likely to have strong sexual appetites, but sometimes the roles are reversed. This man was open about his situation: “I'm 39 years old and have been married for over two years now. Unfortunately, I find myself in a position where I have a low sex drive, while my wife has a strong one.”

We have also heard from women like this one: “My husband and I are in our early 50s and are newlyweds (three years). Shortly after we were married, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. His medicine has affected his health in many ways. He is depressed, tired all the time and has very little sexual interest. I really feel that the doctor is only interested in controlling the blood pressure and is not concerned about the side effects. Our sex life is suffering.”

Medications can be a contributing factor in sexual problems. Antidepressants, blood pressure pills and prostate medicine are just some of the drugs that can depress libido or interfere with enjoyment. Our Guides to Drugs That Affect Sexuality and Treating Sexual Dysfunction lists some of these and offers some alternatives that are less likely to cause sexual issues. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. YP-96, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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  1. tm

    OH my goodness…I am in a similar situation…I feel like every couple of days would be awesome too and for him every week or week and half is ok.
    He is super affectionate all the other time…holding me, holding my hand, stroking my hair…staring into my eyes, talking to me….it almost feels like all he really wants is a glorified best friend…which I am ok with because our friendship is great….but dang it I want that physical closeness too!!

  2. abc

    The sad reality is that men who are “always ready” for sex are just inexperienced. I’ve never met a man who could handle more than 5 ejaculations per day, but I have met a lot of men who don’t know what the “dry heaves” are. All my serious boyfriends have made a limit of 3 times per day, max, and I am a 5-times-per-day gal. It’s frustrating.
    Like the other women here, I struggle with sexual self-esteem issues because I feel rejected, not just by my husband of 20 years, but also by my lovers (I try to keep 2-3 other men in my life to balance out my husband’s very low (medications) drive). I know that I am attractive (confirmed by modelling gigs), smart (confirmed by educational credentials) and successful (confirmed by six figs), and I know that the men think it’s a good thing when they “want to talk”. Women seem to be much more sexual than men, at least in the limited experience I’ve had with women – some days I think lesbians are onto something!
    @ DC – sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen. I did meet one man who could (almost) keep up, but he kept ending up sick after every encounter. He broke it off after he ended up in the hospital – diagnosis: exhaustion. Too bad too, we were just getting to know each other and I think it could have been good if we’d had the chance to work it out, even though I would have had to stick to the standard 3 per day limit.

  3. PEB

    Let me first say that I love my wife very much. I enjoy her time, her witting sense of humor, and her smile; however, over the years, I have grown to resent her due to our ability to connect in the bedroom. At the very least, I want it once day and twice on Sunday. I am 39 years old and regardless of what type of day I had, sex makes it all better. I am never too tired for sex.
    My wife complains that I am addicted, which I am contrary to. Unlike myself, she is perfectly content with once a week or every week. I am the point now that I don’t even want to sleep in the same bed with her due to my desires. When we do have sex, she makes me feel like I am raping her and who wants to have that type of sex. I want someone to desire me just as much as I desire them. My only question is, “Where are these women with the high sex drive?”

  4. DC

    Every boyfriend I have ever had has never been able to keep up with me. I am so frustrated and sick of it. I hope one day to find a man who has a sex drive the same size as mine. Always it leads to them feeling pressured to have sex with me and I feel rejected, frustrated and unattractive.
    One boyfriend who I was with for four years who I believe had a small sex drive due to his high cannabis usage, always said it felt like a chore he had to do with me. He would have been happy having sex once a week or every two weeks and I want it at the very least once a day.
    This is a sad issue because eventually it tears a relationship apart. I love sex and have such a passion for it and when I love someone I want to share this special thing with them all the time.

  5. cm

    NM I agree with you – If the person that doesn’t want as much sex doesn’t communicate that they love you and think your special (especially if your a woman being rejected all the time) then the high sex drive partner will feel not good enough or think there is something inadequate with them.
    I have a double whammy- for the first two years we had sex every night all night.. Our all-nighters became shorter due to work reasons. I still wanted it every night. After him dropping a few bombshells we had sex about 2-3 times a week – which was really hard for me to adjust to…but I did because I respected what he wanted.
    Recently he says it’s still too much – that once a week or two weeks would be fine. The sex itself is not the real problem – the biggest issue is that he never makes me feel special. In the whole three years we have been together he has never said I’m beautiful. Under mumble breath he has said I look nice about twice.
    He doesn’t grab me or touch me like he is excited by me. Not overly modest but I know I’m attractive. I have been told I could be a top model. Therefore, if a guy drops off on sex and complains constantly that it’s too much.. doesn’t seem into it .. never feels into it AND doesn’t ever say your pretty, nice eyes (anything), then this is a recipe for disaster.

  6. NM

    To all low desire partners out there, please re-read TheLostGirl post. This is what all high desire partners go through. Regardless of the reason you do not desire as much sex, if you do not clearly express your feelings to your partner and be patient with them, your partner will feel unwanted and unloved.

  7. TheLostGirl

    I wish I could meet one of these men who will do anything for sex. My partner will only have sex once a month (at most), while I used to be a once a day kind of gal–until his refusal of my advances made me so depressed that I gave up. We have great conversations and he likes non-sexual contact, but he is a sexual camel! I am not sure if I should leave him, or if I am even capable of doing so. I am down on myself all the time, and I think that just because he doesn’t want me that way, no one else will, either. So I am beginning to think that sex will never be part of my life again…and that is a sobering thought.

  8. mark d

    I tried saw palmetto and stinging nettle for enlarged benign prostate and had trouble with G.I. upset. I next tried an organic form of pure saw palmetto, and as it did not bother my stomach, I stayed with it. However, after several weeks, I found that I had lost my sex drive. Are there any other herbal options to try that might not cause a loss of sex drive?
    Thanks in advance.

  9. Charlotte S.

    I have a much higher sex drive than my partner who is in his late thirties, while I am in my mid 20’s…I would prefer to have sex every couple of days while he is fine with having it once every week and a half. I find it difficult to deal with this situation because as a woman I feel like it’s not normal to have the higher sex drive and I worry that I might make sex seem like a chore to my partner if I ask him to have it with me more…I often wish that I could take medication that would lower my sex drive so that I could be happier.

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