What is Sexual Frustration and How to Get Over It

Martha Kempner - Writer And Sexual Health Expert

5 min read - July 12, 2023

We can all get frustrated multiple times in a day. You wake up to find you're out of cream for your coffee, traffic on the way to work is worse than ever, making you late for a meeting, you spill soda on your shirt at lunch before another critical discussion, and so on. By the time you get home, you can be downright exasperated.

Sex is supposed to be a way to release these frustrations, but unfortunately, many people find their sex life to be frustrating in its own right. There are many reasons, including performance issues like premature ejaculation, relationship issues, and stress in other aspects of life. This article will examine the possible causes of sexual frustration, offer some long-term solutions, and provide ideas for dealing with it.

What Causes Sexual Frustration?

Sexual frustration specifically refers to unmet sexual arousal. You could say that sexual frustration comes from being turned on and never getting off, but it's far more complicated than that.

There are usually physical, psychological, or relationship issues lurking under the surface, and these issues can get knotted around each other so that it becomes about a lot more than wanting more sex (or better sex) than you're getting.

Some possible causes of sexual frustration include: 


Lack of sexual partners. This one is pretty obvious, but if you’re horny (for lack of a more scientific word) and you don’t have a partner, it can be difficult to satiate that desire. Masturbation is the obvious first answer and can often suffice while you’re looking for a partner through dating apps and your networks of friends and family. (Go ahead, let Aunt Nancy set you up with her accountant’s cousin’s next-door neighbor, it could be great).  


Relationship issues. For those in a relationship, issues outside of the bedroom can get in the way when you’re between the sheets or stop you from ever getting there. If your partner is mad at you for leaving dishes in the sink or you’re arguing over money, it can be hard to come together for sex. And the longer you go without sex, the harder it can be to feel close enough to ask for it the next time. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be broken with honest conversations. If you open up but aren’t making any progress, consider talking to a therapist or sex therapist for additional help.  


Mismatched sexual desires. Everyone has a different level of desire for sex. Your libido can go up and down based on what is going on in your life (stress and illness are bad for the sex drive while the confidence that comes with a new promotion might be great). When you and your partner are mismatched—one of you wants it and the other doesn’t—it can be frustrating for everyone. If this happens only occasionally, it’s nothing to worry about. However, if you’re always out of sync or one person wants it far less than the other, it’s time for more honest conversations. Again, reaching out to a therapist or a sex therapist can help. 


Other health conditions. Sex requires energy and stamina. Other health issues like heart conditions, high blood pressure, or sleep disorders can leave you without the endurance you need for sex. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety can destroy your libido. If either you or your partner is suffering with these issues it can cause sexual frustration for both of you. If you don’t feel up for sex or have noticed a decrease in sex drive, talk to a health care provider.  


Performance problems. Good sex often makes you want to have more sex while bad sex can make you want to avoid it altogether. Performance issues such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vaginal dryness, or anorgasmia (the inability of one or both partners to orgasm), can cause anxiety and frustration with yourself or with your partner. Finding a solution to the underlying issue can prevent ongoing and worsening frustration. The in2 patch, for example, provides a clinically proven, drug-free way to help control ejaculation and avoid coming too soon. If performance problems continue, it’s a good idea to see a health care provider who can diagnose and treat any underlying health issues.  


The cure for sexual frustration is determining the underlying cause and working on the root of the problem. Some things might be obvious—if you don’t have a partner to have sex with right now, you will likely be a little frustrated. 

Other issues—especially for people in a relationship—might take a little more effort to figure out. Is your partner never in the mood to have sex because they’re suffering from depression or are they not in the mood because they’re angry at you? Only honest communication can provide this answer. 

What Can I Do About My Sexual Frustration?

Like any frustration, sexual frustration can make us irritable, mess with our self-esteem, and lead to more fights with our partners. While you work to discover and solve the underlying issues, there are some simple things you can do to make sure sexual frustration doesn’t take over your life or mood.  


Masturbate. Masturbation is a safe and healthy way to have your sexual desires met. Feel free to masturbate, a lot. You can’t really do it too much. (As long as it’s not interfering with your other responsibilities in life and you’re not physically hurting yourself, it’s likely not a problem.) If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough out of solo sessions, switch up your routine with new lube or a new toy (masturbation sleeves are popular for a reason).   


Exercise. We know that this is everybody’s solution to everything, but there are good reasons for that. Exercise is good for you and when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins similar to those that are released during sex. It might not be the same thing as a good orgasm, but a workout can help release tension. 


Do other things. Telling you to channel your energy into other activities will likely increase your frustration right now. Sorry for that. But there is another chemical that gets released during sex called dopamine which is like the brain’s built-in reward system. If you do something rewarding—like mastering a new skill, volunteering, going to a concert/show, or connecting with friends—you can get a dopamine boost without the sex.   

Try combining all these approaches: exercise, do something rewarding, and cap it off with masturbation. You'll get physical pleasure and a brain chemistry boost and probably sleep well afterward.

Most importantly, be patient while you look for the underlying cause and search for solutions. Have some grace with yourself and your partner, no matter what or who is considered the source of the imbalance and frustration. Better yet, don't think about it as who is to blame but as how you can get past this and be stronger for it.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor shall be considered, used, or relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your physician about any health-related condition, as well as risks and benefits of any treatment.