Reasons for avoiding sex are often treatable

Story highlights

Sexual avoidance influences multiple aspects of well-being

Medical problems are the main reasons for avoiding sex

Many could be helped by simple conversations with their doctors

Sex has a strong influence on many aspects of well-being: it is one of our most basic physiological needs. Sex feeds our identity and is a core element of our social life.

But millions of people spend at least some of their adulthood not having sex. This sexual avoidance can result in emotional distress, shame and low self-esteem – both for the individual who avoids sex and for the partner who is rejected.

Yet while our society focuses a lot on having sex, we do not know as much about not having it.

As a researcher of human behavior who is fascinated by how sex and gender interact, I have found that sexual avoidance influences multiple aspects of our well-being. I also have found that people avoid sex for many different reasons, some of which can be easily addressed.

The more sex the merrier?

People who have more sex report higher self-esteem, life satisfaction and quality of life. In contrast, lower frequency of sex and avoiding sex are linked to psychological distress, anxiety, depression and relationship problems.