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Carnal Case Study

Her Man Says No to Sex

The Case: My guy has suddenly become squeamish about sex. He asks me not to look when he changes his clothes in front of me and if I make any kind of sexual comment, his response is "ew." Of course, our sex life has also dwindled. I've tried talking to him about his behavior, but he doesn't seem to want to discuss what's bothering him. What I can do?

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D. says:

Interesting reversal of the stereotyped roles here. First, when sexual intimacy in a long-term relationship changes dramatically and not temporarily (i.e. your man just had surgery, his dog died or he has a cold) it just has to be addressed!

There are definite medical reasons why sex may seem difficult or unappealing. Many medications, such as those used to treat hypertension and depression, long term use of steroids, marijuana and some herbal supplements are well known libido and erection killers. There are also rare hormonal changes that might influence a man negatively in this department, so making sure that your partner's health is solid and that you both understand the implications of his use of any substances — legal or not — is critical ... not only to your love life but also to his general health. Other things to consider: Is he in a new, stressful job or lack thereof? Have you experienced a major change in work status, health or weight? Any red flags for infidelity, "evolution in orientation" or just not being turned on by you anymore?

Dr. Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., advises:

Definitely do not ignore it! A sudden change in his behavior like this may be a signal that something serious is going on for him. It could be something recent or it might be something that happened years ago and is coming to the surface now. For example, survivors of sexual assault sometimes go through a period of avoiding sex. And while it's not as common for boys and men, it does happen more than most people realize.

Another possibility is that he might be feeling guilty about something that he's done and is avoiding sex as a coping mechanism. Sometimes, people who have had affairs do this. Or it could be something else. Don't waste your time guessing because you'll come up with all sorts of scary possibilities and freak yourself out. My suggestion is to sit down with him and talk with him.

Dr. Natasha Janina Valdez agrees:

If you care about him and want the relationship to continue, then you must bring it up. Pick a time when you are both relaxing and not rushing around. Just come out with it and say something like, "Honey, I've noticed that you seem to be going through something possibly difficult lately ... Our sex life has dwindled, which can be very dangerous for a relationship, if one wants sex and the other doesn't. So, we need to talk about this so we can both feel connected again. This is so important to me and you are so important to me. I love you and I want our relationship to be passionate."

This is a good starting point. If he doesn't want to talk about it then your relationship is on it's way to being over unless you can get him to talk another way — like in therapy.

What's your advice for the woman in this case?


Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D. is a Diplomate of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who currently practices at the Women's Care Center of Beverly Hills.

Dr. Charlie Glickman, Ph.D. is the Education Program Manager of Good Vibrations, a leading resource for sex education, and regularly writes a sex advice column for TresSugar.

Dr. Natasha Janina Valdez is a relationship and sex therapist and clinical sexologist with a doctorate in human sexuality. She is the author of A Little Bit Kinky: A Couples' Guide to Rediscovering the Thrill of Sex.

  • Don't let your man's sexual issues go undiscussed.

Carnal Case Study
Her Man Says No to Sex
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