First, the men asked, ‘Why doesn’t she want sex with me after having a baby?’ So we wrote about it, here.
Then the women asked, ‘Hang on, but why doesn’t HE want sex with me?’
I get it. We’ve grown up hearing that men want to have sex – however they can get it, all the time and frequently.
So when a man rejects a woman’s advances, she might not only feel the sting of rejection but also the sting of believing that something must be wrong with her because, after all, don’t all men want sex? And as much as they can get?
Right or Wrong?
Male sexual or erectile dysfunction and low sex drive are no longer limited to those who are well past their childbearing days. Although some cases might be due to medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or even prostate cancer, low interest in sex usually, but not always, means there’s an underlying lifestyle or psychological cause. The good news is many sexual problems are not only preventable but reversible.
Usually, when certain health conditions or, in this case, sexual health problems arise in a relationship, we first turn our thoughts to possible medical causes. The roaring success of Viagra just goes to show how quickly we look to medicine for quick solutions, rather than try to understand why those health problems are occurring in the first place.
A similar pill for women has been announced recently, which is worrying. Our society seems lost and in desperate need of quality advice and education about sexual and overall health and lifestyle matters.
Why doesn’t he want sex?
Let’s get right into it. Here are 13 reasons why fathers, fathers-to-be and men in general might say no to sex and intimacy with their partners.
#1. Changing roles in sexual intimacy
Just as a woman must make a massive adjustment into the role of a mother, men experience a huge adjustment as they move into fatherhood. Because we’re all unique individuals with unique upbringings and past experiences, adjusting to parenthood can affect us all differently. Parenthood can have a real impact on a person’s sex drive.
Simon, a new father, explained how his instinct to parent affected his sexual relationship:
‘In my case, the intimacy was very much still there but the sex wasn’t. She was up for it, but a lot of the time I wasn’t. I don’t know why I wasn’t initiating sex, but I’m assuming it was because I was just in parenting mode and was focused on my son.
Now I realize that I’m not just a dad but I’m also a partner in a committed relationship, so I need to have that “sexual” relationship with my partner’.
When you become parents, both partners need to remember the two people that started the relationship in the first place. The relationship must be nurtured because, one day, the kids will pursue their own lives and relationships and you as parents will be again left to your own devices, wondering what the heck just happened.
If you’ve always put parenting first, your relationship will suffer and you might even grow apart.
#2. A lack of confidence to initiate sex
Darren Mattock, the creator of Becoming Dad, says that sometimes a lack of confidence can come about with the new and changing landscape of your relationship:
‘Pre-pregnancy, most men have developed a sense of confidence in how to initiate sex, build up sexual desire and how to please her sexually. When her pregnant body and the way they as a couple connect intimately both change, this once solid ground can slowly begin to crumble away. Performance anxiety and body image issues may have an impact on the couple’s erotic blueprint.
‘The mature masculine will appreciate the changes in his partner’s body, move and grow on the same page as her and continue to share intimacy and enjoy sex with her throughout pregnancy and beyond, without any major interruption.
‘For the immature masculine, whose self-esteem is largely built upon his sense of sexual confidence and his sexual power in the relationship, this change will be a profound and disturbing shock to his sex life. Such men often long for the partner they had before, her body, and the sex they used to have. He is being called to evolve his ideas about sex and relationship to it (both in himself as a man and with his partner) but is struggling to come to grips with the reality of their changes.
‘This can be a real trigger for inadequacy in men. If a man succumbs to his fear and vulnerability in feeling sexually inadequate and can’t find a way to turn to his partner to maintain connection with her, he’ll shut down and/or either turn away from her emotionally, psychologically, physically, and sexually’.
This lack of confidence and associated feelings of inadequacy can, in some cases, cause men to suffer from erectile dysfunction and lose interest in sex altogether.
#3. Fear of hurting their partner after the birth
Some new dads feel genuine concern about their partner, and how she experiences sexual intimacy after the birth. It’s one of many unknown territories new parents face and these dads don’t want to cause any discomfort or pain.
As Seamus writes on his blog: Direct Advice for Dads
‘For me, sex after birth was a little scary. It wasn’t because I’d seen [my son] emerge out of her vagina – I have heard this causes issues for some men. Not for me. Instead, I was nervous about how sex would feel, and that penetrative sex might hurt her somehow if she wasn’t physically ready yet.
It was a bit like having sex for the first time all over again, it was a similar kind of trepidation. “Will she like it? What do I do? How do I know if I’m doing it right?” And all without the help of wine. We had to re-discover each other a bit after that first attempt. But with patience, understanding, and acceptance we got through it together’.
A sexual encounter can take many forms. Oral sex or mutual masturbation can go a long way to resolving difficulties if both of you want sex but your partner doesn’t want, or isn’t ready for, penetrative sex.
#4. Fear of hurting the baby during pregnancy
It’s not uncommon for men to worry about how sexual intercourse will affect the baby. After all, a lot of the action is likely to be happening right where we know the baby’s head is usually located. Add a little creative thinking about what could possibly go wrong or what might happen to the baby’s head and you have a worried or anxious dad-to-be.
Some simple reassurance and a little education are usually enough. If your partner comes along to your midwife or doctor visits, bring it up. Don’t embarrass him; simply ask your care provider to explain how the baby is protected when you make love, and under which circumstances it might be worth stopping.
In fact, your baby is well protected by your strong uterine muscles, a closed-shut cervix and a mucus plug to ensure no bugs get in. Mother Nature has it all sorted.
#5. Low testosterone levels reduce sexual desire
Low testosterone levels can result in low sexual desire for men. It’s something you’d usually think is a problem for older men, right?
Professor Gary Wittert, study co-author and professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide says:
‘Declining testosterone levels are not an inevitable part of the aging process, as many people think. Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior and changes in physical and mental health status, particularly obesity and depression’.
Research shows that a poor diet can affect those levels, as can stress, alcohol and even drinking unfiltered tap water.
Low testosterone is common in men with diabetes of either type. Processed carbohydrates (grains) and sugar can mess with your insulin levels.
If your partner is obese or has a diet high in processed sugars and grains (e.g. wheat products), then these could be contributing factors, as could a lack of exercise. If you smoke, you’re not going to be healthy. Smoking also significantly increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
#6. Stress negatively affects sex life
New baby or not, stress is a huge libido killer for men. Sleep, exercise, time out and healthy eating habits all tend to go downhill when a new baby arrives. On top of that, some men feel a great deal of pressure to ‘provide and fix’ in this new and unexplored responsibility of being a dad.
Add financial and work pressures to the list, and they can end up feeling like a top-of-the-range pressure cooker.
Stress, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise and other factors, when combined, can aggravate one other and lower testosterone levels, too. Although sex and orgasm are often great stress relievers, high levels of stress can get the better of any man or woman.
#7. Lack of sleep reduces sexual desire
Studies have shown that a woman’s interest in sex and libido dwindles when she has less sleep, let alone complete sleep deprivation after having a baby. The same happens with men.
Even if you’re sleeping well, he might not be. Perhaps he spends time awake at night worrying about his responsibilities. You’ll never know unless you ask.
#8. He finds pregnancy or post-birth bodies unattractive
Some men find pregnant women beautiful and glowing. Many men find them sexy.
However, a tiny percentage of them might struggle with how a woman looks during pregnancy and after birth.
On the Reservoir Dad blog, blog owner Clint posted a disturbing letter that one father wrote about his wife’s body during pregnancy and after the birth. Clint was just as shocked as I was. The letter is definitely not representative of the vast majority of men out there. I love Clint’s comment:
‘Although I can’t be certain, I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone like this. All my friends have been right by their partner’s side for all the terrors and joys of pregnancy, labor and birth, and all have emerged more in love and more committed to their partners’.
By supporting and embracing your partner’s healthy changes you demonstrate commitment to the long-term relationship.
#9. He feels traumatized after the birth
Just as we’re seeing an increase in traumatic and disappointing birth experiences (including incidences of PTSD), men are also left trying to process their difficult feelings, alone.
Men do feel and experience birth trauma. Unfortunately with the very high level of interventions during birth (both the US and Australia have double the c-section rate recommended by the World Health Organization), it doesn’t seem it will come to an end soon.
If your partner is struggling with birth trauma, it’s important to work through these feelings with a professional. As a new mother, possibly one who has her own trauma, this is too much to take on by yourself. You both need support. You can’t be responsible for supporting both of you, as well as your new baby.
Birthtalk.org is a good place to start if you’ve experienced birth trauma.
#10. He’s addicted to porn
Porn addiction is a very real reason why men – young and old – suffer from sexual dysfunction and might not be interested in having sex with their partner. When they do have sex, it can feel like a very disconnected form of sex. For some men, porn use can result in lowered sexual attraction and desire for their partner.
Unfortunately, this is the new big problem of our generation. We have such easy access to high-speed Internet porn, which lights up the brain in the same way drug use does for an addict. The brain is flooded with dopamine in smokers, alcoholics, drug users and porn users.
Porn-addicted men (and women, which is sometimes the case, now) can become ‘desensitized’ and have more trouble becoming aroused by their partner. Addicted men tend to objectify women, be picky about their partner’s appearance and might scan for sexually arousing images around them (e.g. women in their surroundings).
However, a partner’s porn addiction has nothing to do with you or whether your body is good enough. This is about them and changes in their brain, due to exposure to porn. They have low self-esteem, low libido for the real thing and, quite likely, sexual shame.
Any form of addiction is a symptom of an underlying problem. It might not even be about getting enough sex. Just like any addiction, it becomes a quick and easy way to repress uncomfortable and painful feelings. If your partner watches porn (which you might not be aware of), you might need to have a delicate talk with him.
Addicts tend to deny their addictions, to save face, or protect their addiction, because of the shame and guilt associated with its use.
An addiction is a very tough situation to be in, for both partners. It’s important to seek professional help if this is a problem in your relationship, as willpower alone is not enough to combat an addiction.
#11. Effects of depression and anxiety on sexual intimacy
Depression and anxiety are known libido killers for both men and women. So are certain medications, such as some anti-depressants.
More men are reporting having postnatal depression but, aside from that, we know depression is a big problem in society as a whole. If your partner is taking anti-depressants, a visit to the doctor and a request to try something else might be in order.
Self-help is super important here, too. Don’t leave it up to the meds; that’s simply a life raft until you get back to the shore, where you can ditch your raft. While you’re in recovery, it’s important to focus on personal growth and development and lifestyle issues, such as diet and exercise.
Your gut is where most of your immune system lives, and it’s your ‘second brain’. When the gut is out of whack, the brain tends to be too, and vice versa. Foods like sugars and grains (wheat etc) are inflammatory to the gut and can mess with your emotional well-being.
If you or someone else feels that they might be depressed, try the online Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which is commonly used to assess whether a mother might be suffering from depression. Fathers can try it too.
#12. Previous sexual abuse
This is something definitely worth a mention. It’s not talked about and it should be.
No matter whether it’s a woman or man experiencing sexual abuse, it’s equally traumatic. You will also need experienced, professional help to work through this, so please don’t think you can fix this all on your own. You will need support for yourself and for your partner.
Here are links to helplines for those experiencing sexual abuse:
#13. He’s channeling his sexual energy elsewhere
Yes, it’s possible that something sinister could be going on, although I certainly hope that’s not the case. However, at times of high stress and pressure, men might also channel their sexual energy into work. As you would know, being a mother is a huge amount of work with no kudos, pay rises or praise.
A man is able to get that kind of fulfilment from his job. He might be putting in excess hours or bringing work home to avoid the difficult feelings he’s experiencing. We know men like to fix things and when it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenting, many things are just not fixable. All new parents learn a big lesson about going with the flow with babies and kids in the house.
He could also be channeling his energy into pleasuring himself, which can also become an addiction. He might be so overwhelmed and stressed that it’s giving him relief without having to worry about any other responsibility. This might leave his sexual desire for you at zilch when he gets to the bedroom. If this is the case, you need to chat with him and let him know that you miss your sexual activity and that you’d love it if he could save his sexual feelings for the relationship.
Find out the source of most of his stress and brainstorm some ideas about sexual stimulation, together.
Opening up about sexual issues in your relationship
All of these things can only be of help if he opens up about how he’s really feeling. If you’re both in a bad place in the relationship and there is little to no sexual intimacy, he might not feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
Darren Mattock says:
‘A lack of sex can feed a cycle of disconnect that becomes a downward spiral, ending in complete relationship breakdown. By the time it becomes a relationship-breaking issue, it’s no longer about sex – it’s about connection. Yet that can be a double-edged sword, as men tend to need sex to experience connection with their partner (whereas women tend to be the other way around)’.
Therefore it’s important that someone just goes first (note: that’s you) at trying to rebuild intimacy, sexual interest and trust. Only then can you make progress. If your partner is unwilling to resolve any big issues (such as meeting basic sexual needs) and you’ve given it your very best, then you need to start making some serious decisions.
What can you do about your sex life difficulties?
You might now have a better understanding as to why your partner doesn’t seem to be as interested in sex, but what can you do to turn things around? The first step is the same as in any problem in a relationship: initiate an open and honest conversation in a non-threatening and non-demanding way. You might like to share this article with him and ask him to discuss it with you.
You can sit down and work out whether one or several things on this list could be a possible problem. It might surprise you to discover how he’s really feeling.
Most difficulties are connected with well-being and other health issues and can be greatly improved with better health and lifestyle choices as well as support from the right people. The best thing you can do is to support your partner to work towards a healthier lifestyle and (if doesn’t have something already) encourage him to get involved in a hobby he’s passionate about.
- Exercise is very important for physical and mental health. A daily walk for 30 minutes can help with mood, insulin resistance, weight loss and more
- For even more impact, weight resistance can help build muscle and boost testosterone
- Go for a walk after dinner to help lower your blood sugar levels
- Have 20 minutes of non-peak sun exposure (without sunscreen) to make sure your vitamin D levels are sufficient
- Cut out inflammatory, libido-killing and disease-causing sugars and refined carbs (‘whites’, such white flour, bread, pasta and potato)
- Choose protein, vegetables and salads for meals, with plenty of good fats (coconut oil, avocado, omegas), nuts and seeds.
- Turn to an expert in the field. A sex therapist like a clinical sexologist can help with your relationship problems.
Check out our tips in Healthy breakfast – 13 Delicious And Healthy Breakfast Ideas.
The importance of good role models and men’s groups
Because many of us grew up without a good supply of role models (those on TV can be downright shocking), being around great men is very important, too. We become who we spend most of our time with.
Look at our fantastic 10 Best Facebook Pages For Dads And Dads-To-Be.
Several of these offer great support (especially Becoming Dad).
Find out if there are any men’s groups in your community. There are plenty around designed to help men become the best partners and fathers they can be.
A final note: Please understand that you can’t ‘rescue’ him or be responsible for his decisions or choices, especially if it comes at your own happiness and expense. You can open the door, but he needs to walk through it. If you feel stuck in a relationship where you feel disrespected or your partner is an addict of any kind, please see this article on co-dependency.
If you’re not coping with his lack of sex drive, it might be worth considering what reactions, thoughts and feelings are going on inside your body.
Do you feel rejected? Do you feel as though you’re not good/attractive/sexy enough? Are you worried that you’ll never be loved?
Sometimes feeling these things can result in fear, disguised by anger and due to being worried that something is wrong with you.
Sex does not define you, who you are or how attractive you are, so don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking that if he doesn’t want sex with you, you’re not worth it. I can guarantee that there’s way more than one man in this world that finds you ravishing and gorgeous, just as you are.
Check out our article with a must-see video from JP Sears, Pregnant And He Doesn’t Want Sex, to find out what could be the underlying problem.