6 Reasons Men Say No to Sex

Updated: Feb. 28, 2024

If you're getting turned down in the bedroom, chances are it's not about you. Here are six reasons your partner might not be interested in sex, and what you can do about them.

Overwhelmed man with his head in his hands

1. He’s suffering from depression

“Clinical depression is one of the biggest killers of sex drive in men,” says Vancouver, BC-based sex therapist David McKenzie, PhD. Men of all ages, even teenagers, may experience much lower sex drive when they’re struggling with this mood disorder.

You can: “Remember that clinical depression is a physical illness and not a character weakness,” says McKenzie. The key here is patience, especially after he seeks treatment—while antidepressants are very effective in treating depression, they can also contribute to low sexual interest. Your partner may want to speak to a doctor if he notices severe interference with his sex drive.

Man turned away from woman in bed

2. He’s got trouble with his plumbing

Though erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are common problems, says McKenzie, a man who experiences these difficulties may withdraw from his partner for fear that she’ll be disappointed or think that he’s less of a man.

You can: Not avoid the issue. This can be difficult to discuss, but a problem left untreated could result in resentment. “Start by saying, ‘You know I love you no matter what,’” suggests David, a 28-year-old musician. “Don’t make a big deal out of it or make him feel like it will affect your interest in him as a partner if he can’t make it happen.”

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Older man talking with his doctor

3. His testosterone levels are low

“When a man gets to be over 40, his testosterone levels begin to decrease,” says McKenzie. “If this happens mildly over time, then a man will gradually lose his sexual prowess. But sometimes males can lose testosterone very rapidly.” According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition is sometimes referred to as andropause and comes with symptoms that include loss of energy, depressive symptoms, and low sex drive.

You can: Suggest he ask his doctor for a testosterone test.

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Stressed man putting his hands to his face

4. He’s stressed out about his career

Worrying about work can be a real mood-killer for many men, especially if they tend to equate professional success with self-worth.

You can: Discuss the situation away from the bedroom. Instead, mutually decide on a good time to chat about what’s going on in his life. Ask if there’s anything you can do to support him through a stressful time, but be clear that his demanding job is taking a toll on your relationship.

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Man sound asleep with woman watching him

5. He’s exhausted

Chances are, if your partner says he’s too tired for some late-night nookie, he’s really exhausted.

You can: Not take it personally. According to McKenzie, about 98 percent of the men he counsels would say that their lack of sexual interest has nothing to do with how they feel about their partners. Rather than acting hurt or angry, set the stage for a
conversation about what’s going on in his life to make him so tired. But if the problem persists for more than six weeks, it’s time to consider getting help from a therapist or physician.

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Woman kissing man in bed

6. You’re moving too fast

If a new man you’re dating turns down an invitation to “come upstairs for a nightcap,” he could be trying to tell you that he’s not ready to sleep with you yet. “Remember, there’s a lot of emotional involvement that comes with having sex with somebody, for men, too,” says P.J., a 29-year-old online producer.

You can: Slow down—this could be a sign that the guy wants to get to know you better before getting physical. Take the declined invitation in stride and remember that, despite what your father might have told you before the prom, guys do have more than one thing on their minds.