What Causes a Sexless Marriage? Find Out How to Improve a Low Libido Naturally

It's not unheard of for couples to have a sexless marriage. However, a lack of intimacy can sometimes put a heavy strain on their relationships.

Smiling couple hugging each other in bed

A sexless marriage is more common than you think. A multi-year study from The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that more than half of committed couples have sex less than once a week. In most cases, sexual aversion is the source of intimacy problems in the long run. After all, sexual satisfaction is a factor in relationship contentment. 

Various factors contribute to a lack of sexual intimacy in relationships, leading to a sexless marriage. While it may take time to get back into the honeymoon phase, you can still reignite the spark that you and your spouse have longed for.

Here are some of the reasons why couples may have little to no intercourse and a guide on how to increase libido the natural way.

Chronic Fatigue

Woman slumped over a coffee table while working
Staying up late to work can cause fatigue and impair sexual function, contributing to a sexless marriage.

Feeling severely tired can significantly impact your libido. It’s worth noting that chronic fatigue may not only stem from physical causes like staying up late to work or care for a baby. Other more debilitating health conditions can also cause fatigue. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), weight issues, sleep apnea, carbon monoxide poisoning, and iron-deficiency anaemia are some disorders that can tire a person. 

Similarly, fatigue can result from pregnancy, undergoing cancer treatments, or using certain medications or herbal remedies. Psychological factors like anxiety, depression, stress, and emotional shock will exhaust a person as well, inadvertently causing a sexless marriage.

Age, Perimenopause and Menopause

A person’s libido gradually decreases with age. Nevertheless, women are 2-3 times more likely to be affected by a low sex drive, starting in their late 40’s and 50’s. 

Perimenopausal and menopausal women can also experience a significantly diminished sex drive. This decrease in libido during the transitional years primarily contributes to several physical effects of falling oestrogen levels. These include hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.

Mental Health Issues 

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a common sexual dysfunction. It’s usually linked to significant emotional or psychological distress, as well as relationship and sexual dissatisfaction.  

A mental health condition like depression usually presents as low self-esteem, reduced energy levels, a depressed mood or anhedonia — an inability to feel pleasure. Because of this, a healthcare provider may prescribe medication like antidepressants, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, and selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). However, prolonged use of these medications can potentially impair genital arousal and sexual desire and cause a delay or loss of orgasm.

The Main Cause of a Low Libido, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 

“According to TCM, the common causes of decreased sexual vitality are damp-heat (湿热), cold (寒), blood deficiency (血虚), blood stasis (血瘀), spleen deficiency-induced phlegm and dampness (脾虚痰湿), liver stagnation (肝郁), or a kidney deficiency (肾虚). All these collectively arise from our stressful working lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits,” says Real Health Medical Senior TCM physician Brandon Yew.

Natural Ways to Boost Your Libido

Man and woman happily exercising together at home
Regular exercise has a positive effect on the sexual desires of men and women.

Taking a natural approach that comprises the use of TCM medications, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and tuina can help couples obtain sexual satisfaction without the risk of developing adverse side effects. Physician Yew advises that prior consultation with a TCM practitioner is necessary for identifying and addressing the unique needs of people with different body constitutions.

1. Consume a nutritious diet

The findings of multiple cross-sectional studies indicate that consuming a Mediterranean diet or its related components — nuts, olive oil, fruits and vegetables — can be beneficial for men who wish to regain erectile function. Men with obesity or excessive weight can also consume a low-fat, low-calorie diet to achieve healthy weight loss. From this point of view, consuming a Mediterranean diet may help increase the frequency of intercourse and reduces the prevalence of sexual dysfunction. 

If you’re not following a specific eating plan but wish to start the Mediterranean diet, try this 3-step process. First, stop preparing your meals with vegetable oil. Instead, switch to olive oil. You can then introduce vegetable-based meals to your cooking. Once you’ve mastered a few staple main course meals, opt to go vegan at least 2-3 times a week.

2. Adopt a fitness routine to improve a sexless marriage

According to research, high-intensity workouts can indirectly enhance sexual satisfaction through mood and cardiovascular health improvements. Achieving a positive body image can also enhance a woman’s sexual well-being. Likewise, studies indicate that men who exercise more frequently can augment their testosterone levels, thus increasing their sexual desire. 

Interestingly, exercise may improve sexual function in depressed women who were or were not on medication. For instance, a research study on women who use SSRIs reveals working out enhances their sexual well-being

A separate study shows women diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions achieved clinically relevant advances in their desire for intimacy. In addition, acute exercise enhances genital arousal in women using antidepressants.

3. Use medicinal herbs as a remedy for sexless marriage

Tibetan Cordyceps on a wooden spoon.
Chinese herbs like Cordyceps and panax ginseng help enhance libido to remedy a sexless marriage.

It’s worth pointing out that a few medicinal herbs can be potential libido-boosting ingredients. An example of this is the TCM belief that a person’s kidney jing (essence) and qi (vital energy) govern their sexual development, maintaining libido health. 

Cordyceps 

This is one of the most highly sought-after herbs because it’s capable of strengthening kidney function. Drinking a herbal tonic with extracts of cordyceps sinensis mycelia will likely help strengthen a man’s vital essence. It will also boost his stamina, and encourage the development of a strong body system. 

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng can nourish a person’s qi and help their body cope with stress. It can work as a sexual tonic due to its modulating effects on the nervous system. Combining it with other herbal ingredients can help increase sexual desire and kidney jing and yang. Post-menopausal women may also benefit from ginseng use as it can help to prevent atrophy of the vulvar and vaginal tissues. 

Other herbs to consider:

Physician Yew also suggests the use of other herbs that can help to increase libido:

  • actinolite (阳起石) 
  • cistanche (肉苁蓉) 
  • fluoritum (紫石英)
  • maca (玛卡) 
  • circuligo rhizome (仙茅)
  • fenugreek seed (葫芦巴 ) 
  • mantis egg-case (桑螵蛸 )
  • velvet antler (鹿茸)
  • Chinese leek seed (韭菜籽) 
  • horny goat weed (淫羊藿)
  • Indian mulberry root (巴戟天) 
  • malaytea scurfpea fruit (补骨脂) 
  • songaria cynomorium(锁阳)  

The best way to prepare these herbs is to rinse them under clean, running water. Then, submerge them fully in water for 20-30 minutes. Next, bring the water to a boil using strong heat before allowing it to brew for another 30 minutes. Pour out the decoction into a soup bowl without discarding the herb. Repeat the process, but only brew the decoction for 20 minutes the second time. Consume one bowl while it’s still warm and save the other one for later. 

However, he cautions that using pre-made proprietary, over the counter (OTC) herbal formulations and remedies are only suitable for generic cases of low libido. He advises people who have low libido or an existing medical condition (which will result in body constitutions that are particularly complex) to consult a TCM practitioner before opting to self-medicate.

4. Use acupuncture to restore sexual desire

Multiple research studies establish the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating sexual dysfunctions in men and women. One of them involved participants adhering to a treatment protocol that spanned over 12 consecutive weeks.  

The acupoints used during this treatment were Kidney 3 (KI 3), Governing Vessel 4 (GV 4), Urinary Bladder 23 (UB 23), Heart 7 (HT 7), and Pericardium 6 (PC 6). Vast changes appeared in all aspects of sexual function amongst the male participants, as well as anxiety and depression symptoms.

Female participants, meanwhile, were found to experience a remarkable upswing in libido and vaginal lubrication. A trend that indicated amelioration in other areas of sexual function was also observed, albeit to a lesser degree.

5. Try a DIY massage

According to Physician Yew, a do-it-yourself massage technique can stimulate acupoints like Spleen 6 (SP6, Sanyinjiao), Liver 3 (LR3, Taichong), RN4 (Guanyuan), and RN6 (Qihai) for increasing sex drive. Physician Yew encourages placing fingers or a massage stick on these acupoints. Then, apply just enough pressure to elicit an aching sensation or numbness. Simultaneously, massage the acupoint using both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motions 20 times each. Repeat for at least three minutes per acupoint. 

Ultimately, improving a sexless marriage starts with identifying why there is an absence of intimacy in the relationship. Keep this guide on hand to help you build a stronger bond with your other half.

References

  1. American Psychological Association. 2016. The longitudinal association of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  2. The British Medical Journal. 2019. Changes in, and factors associated with, frequency of sex in Britain: evidence from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  3. NHS. 2021. Sleep and tiredness. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  4. The North American Menopause Society. Decreased Desire. [Accessed 7 October 2021]  
  5. US National Library of Medicine. 2018. Lifestyle Choices Can Augment Female Sexual Well-Being. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  6. Sexual Medicine Reviews. 2017. Diet and Mens Sexual Health. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  7. US National Library of Medicine. 2020. Lifestyles and sexuality in men and women: the gender perspective in sexual medicine. [Accessed 7 October 2021]
  8. Acufinder. Chinese Herbal Aphrodisiacs. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  9. US National Library of Medicine. 2018. An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning.[Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  10. PubMed. 2018. The Effects of Exercise on Sexual Function in Women.[Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  11. US National Library of Medicine. 2018. Lifestyle Choices Can Augment Female Sexual Well-Being. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 
  12. PubMed. 2013. Efficacy of acupuncture treatment of sexual dysfunction secondary to antidepressants. [Accessed 7 October 2021] 

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