I Never Get Horny Enough! The Reasons Why You Might Not Be Feeling Turned On.

These 5 causes might explain why you rarely have the urge to get off.

I Never Get Horny Enough! The Reasons Why You Might Not Be Feeling Turned On.

I Never Get Horny Enough! The Reasons Why You Might Not Be Feeling Turned On.

Published on
January 7, 2020
Updated on
June 14, 2022
— What's changed?
We updated this article to include more information on how mental health can impact your sex drive.
Medically Reviewed by
6 minute read

Sometimes, it can seem like everyone around you is obsessed with sex. If you’re not particularly interested in sex, or feel that you never get horny enough, you may feel isolated or embarrassed, particularly if your partner seems to want sex more than you. While there’s an ebb and flow to desire for everyone, it can feel frustrating or confusing if you rarely desire sex. 

Reasons you never (or rarely) get horny

The desire for sex is highly complex and influenced by a variety of factors, including individual biology, emotional state, relationship status, and social and cultural influences; it can encompass the physical craving for sex (libido), as well as a desire for closeness or connection with a partner. It’s also very personal, and exists on a spectrum: Some people are highly sexual, fantasizing about and desiring sex frequently, while others are asexual and want sex rarely or never.

For many people, a lack of interest in sex isn’t a problem — it’s simply part of who they are. There are many nonsexual ways to experience connection, pleasure, and intimacy, and people who are asexual or minimally sexual lead fulfilling and meaningful lives without a focus on sexuality.

For other people, though, a low sex drive can cause distress. For those who want to want sex, but never or rarely get horny, there may be an underlying cause.

1. Medical reasons you never get horny

Physical and biological factors can have a big influence on your desire for sex. Here are just a few medical reasons why you might never, or rarely, get horny. 

  • Medications can have side effects that cause a low sex drive. Certain medications, like antidepressants, medicines used to treat high blood pressure, and chemotherapy drugs, can have this affect. 
  • Illnesses and injuries can be an obvious cause: If you’re sick with a nasty cold, or recovering from an injury, sex may be the last thing on your mind. 
  • Chronic health conditions, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, cancer, and bladder problems can contribute to a low sex drive (1). 
  • Sleep is essential to our physical and psychological wellbeing: A disruption in your sleep cycle due to disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea, lifestyle factors like shift work, as well as simply not getting enough sleep, can cause a loss of sexual desire (2). 

If you notice a sudden change in your sex drive, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms — like pain, nausea, changes in appetite, sleep, or bathroom habits, or major changes in energy level, for example —  it’s worth checking in with a healthcare provider to see if there’s an underlying medical cause. 

2. Hormonal reasons you never get horny 

Hormones are specialized chemicals that send signals throughout our bodies, affecting everything from physical growth and development to emotional and psychological responses; they also play a big role in sex drive (3). Our hormone levels change throughout our lives and are often responsible for changes in sexual desire. Here are a few hormonal changes that could impact libido. 

  • Menopause and andropause cause a decline in levels of sex hormones due to aging (“menopause” in people with vulvas and “andropause” in people with penises). Those experiencing this often experience an accompanying drop in sex drive (4, 5).
  • Feminizing hormones used as part of gender confirmation therapy for some trans-feminine folks can cause sex drive to decrease (6).
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding also have a big influence on hormone levels; people who are pregnant or nursing sometimes experience a lack of sexual desire due to changes in hormone levels during these times (7).

If you never get horny and are going through a major life change like menopause, andropause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or gender confirmation, hormonal changes may be responsible. If your sex drive doesn’t come back and this bothers you, you may want to check in with a healthcare provider to explore treatment options.

3. Psychological reasons you never get horny

In addition to physical health, mental health has a major impact on sex drive. Here are a few psychological reasons you may feel you never get horny enough. 

  • Depression and anxiety are often accompanied by low levels of sexual desire (8). Anxiety can impact your sex life as it has a number of symptoms (intense worry, muscle tension, fear, distraction, associated sleep problems) that can make it difficult to be in the mood for sex, relax and be present. Depression can also cause a low sex drive, make it difficult to get turned on and reach orgasm, get wet, maintain an erection, and more. While there are many treatments for anxiety and depression, medication can also have negative sexual side effects. It’s important to consult your healthcare provider and your therapist to find solutions that work for you.  
  • Stress, whether it’s short-term stress provoked by a specific situation, or long-term stress resulting from health, economic, relational, or other problems, can decrease your sex drive (9). 
  • Body image issues can cause mental health challenges that can contribute to low sex drive. Body dysmorphic disorder, a condition in which people obsess over perceived flaws in their appearance, can make some people feel as if they are undesirable or unworthy of romantic attention, potentially contributing to low sex drive. 
  • Eating disorders  - Your sex life could be impacted by eating disorders as hormonal changes and health problems associated with extremely low body weight (as with anorexia in particular) are often associated with a lack of desire for sex; the psychological and social aspects of eating disorders (preoccupation with weight, obsession with attaining “perfection,” negative self-image) can also contribute to low libido (11). 
  • Trauma — whether sexual in nature, or not — can have a big impact on your sex drive (12). If you’re a survivor of childhood trauma or have experienced a traumatic event as an adult, your sexuality — including when, whether, and how often you get horny—may be impacted. For people who experience PTSD in the wake of trauma, low libido can be a symptom (13).

The relationship between mental health and sexuality is complex; many mental health conditions are accompanied by sexual changes (14). If you are experiencing a lack of sex drive accompanied by intense sadness, stress, anxiety, sleep troubles, body image issues, dramatic changes in your thoughts or beliefs, or other distressing symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek out a sex-affirming therapist.

4. Relationship reasons you never get horny

There are also relationship factors that can lead to low sex drive. 

  • Conflict with a partner or feeling resentment or anger towards them can decrease your desire for sex (10). If you feel that your partner doesn’t listen to you or isn’t responsive to your needs and desires (sexual or otherwise), you may also experience a drop in sex drive. Since sex often goes hand-in-hand with feelings of affection and trust and a desire for closeness with another person, relationship struggles that reduce positive feelings towards your partner may make you less likely to want sex with them. 
  • The spark may have worn off if you’ve been with your partner for a while. You may even be experiencing a sexless marriage at that point. During the exciting early phase of a relationship, you may be horny all the time, as you explore a new sexual connection. Becoming familiar with a partner over time, and experiencing the normal stressors and ups-and-downs of daily life, however, can lead to a decrease in desire (10).

If relationship struggles are behind the fact that you never get horny, it can be a good idea to bring your concerns up to your partner and initiate an open conversation about the underlying issues. Good communication and practicing conflict resolution skills can improve your sex life and the relationship as a whole. A sex therapist or sex-affirming couples counselor can help you to get to the bottom of what’s causing problems in your relationship. 

5. Cultural/social reasons you never get horny

We are all inundated with cultural, social, or religious messages that may impact the way we feel about ourselves and what sex is supposed to mean or not mean. Negative messages about sex can especially cause people to feel disconnected from their bodies and sex lives, causing lower libido. Here are few reasons why.

  • Religious messages that sex is shameful can impact those who grew up in cultures or families where sex is seen as a sin, dirty, or taboo. Especially for queer, female-assigned, or gender nonconforming folks, sex may have been portrayed as sinful or immoral. If you were brought up to believe that sex is bad, you may not get horny because, either consciously or unconsciously, you associate sex with shame or danger. 
  • Cultural messages that body shame those who don’t fit ideal beauty standards can impact anyone, even those who don’t experience body dysmorphia or an eating disorder. Body image issues can contribute to a lack of desire for sex (15). Body shame is common among people of all genders and can lead to a sense that your body isn’t desirable; this in turn can dampen your desire for sex.

If the fact that you never get horny is related to what you were (or weren’t) taught about sex, or to cultural messages around the worth of different bodies, it can be helpful to connect with others who’ve had similar experiences: What tools have helped them get past shame and fear around sex? How have their experiences shaped their perspectives? If your issue has to do with your body image, are there other approaches for acceptance you can try, like body neutrality? It may also be helpful to talk to a culturally-competent therapist who can help you to move past deep cultural and societal conditioning around sex, pleasure, and the body.

Is it normal to never get horny?

Yes, it’s totally normal to never get horny. For people who are asexual or minimally sexual, sex might just not be that interesting. If this describes you, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong—it may just be the way you’re wired. 

Some people who have a naturally low sex drive or who are asexual may still want to have sex with a partner. With clear communication around boundaries, desires, and limitations, people who are asexual can still take part in—and enjoy—partnered sex. Others, however, choose to abstain from sex and may find it freeing to take sex off the table.

The bottom line

It’s totally normal to have a low sex drive, or to have your sex drive decrease with age or life changes. Some people are perfectly comfortable with a minimal or absent desire for sex. If you’d like to experience a higher sex drive, though, there are steps you can take to help you get horny. If you think that your low libido may be the result of a health issue, hormonal changes, or medication side-effects, talking to a healthcare provider is a good first step. If your low sex drive might be caused by relationship or mental health concerns, a sex-affirming therapist might be helpful. You can also read our guide on how to increase your libido for more tips. 

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

The O.school team is here to provide you with the most medically-accurate information around sex, sexual wellness, pleasure, relationships, and dating. Every article we publish is vetted by our medical review board, ensuring that readers are provided with answers you can trust.

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References

1. Levine, S. B. 2003. “The Nature of Sexual Desire: A Clinician’s Perspective.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, no.3 (June): 279–285. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1023421819465 

2. Cho, Jae Wook and Jeanne F. Duffy. “Sleep, sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction.” 2019. World Journal of Men’s Health. 37, no. 3 (September: 261-275. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.180045

3. Graziottin, Alessandra. 2000. “Libido: the biologic scenario.” Maturitas:The European Menopause Journal. 34 (January): S9–S16. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-5122(99)00072-9

4. “Menopause.” Glossary. Planned Parenthood Federation of American. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/glossary#

5. “Andropause.” Glossary. Planned Parenthood Federation of American. Accessed June 3 2021. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/glossary#

6. Cavanaugh, Timothy. 2021. “Cross-Sex hormone therapy.” LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center. 39. https://www.lgbtqiahealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Cavanaugh_Cross-Sex-Hormone-Therapy-1.pdf

7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Your Sexual Health.” FAQs. Reviewed 2019. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/your-sexual-health

8. Laurent, Sean M and Anne D. Simons. 2009. “Sexual dysfunction in depression and anxiety: Conceptualizing sexual dysfunction as part of an internalizing dimension.” Clinical Psychology Review, 29, no. 7 (June): 573–585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2009.06.007

9. Chrousos, George. P. 2009. “Stress and disorders of the stress system.” Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 5 (June): 374-381. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2009.106

10. Mulhall, John P., Peter J. Stahl, and Doron S. Stember. 2013. “Low Libido.” in Clinical Care Pathways in Andrology, 97–100. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6693-2_13 

11. Pinheiro, Andréa Poyastro, T.J. Raney, Laura M. Thornton, Manfred M. Fichter, Wade H Berrettini, David A. Goldman … Cynthia M. Bulik. 2009. Sexual functioning in women with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders 43, no. 2 (March): 123-129. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20671

12. De Silva, Padmal. (1999). “Sexual consequences of non-sexual trauma.” Sexual and Marital Therapy, 14, no. 2 (February): 143–150. https://doi.org10.1080/02674659908405400

13. Green, Ben. 2003. “Post-traumatic stress disorder: symptom profiles in men and women.” Current Medical Research and Opinion, 19, no. 3 (January): 200–204. https://doi.org/10.1185/030079903125001604

14. Montejo, Angel L. 2019. "Sexuality and Mental Health: The Need for Mutual Development and Research" Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8, no. 11 (October): 1794. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8111794

15. Moatti, Zoe and Tony Hollingworth. 2015. “Libido, Loss of.” in Differential Diagnoses in Obstetrics and Gynecology: An A-Z. Tony Hollingworth, ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

16. “Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).” Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/sexual-dysfunction/hypoactive-sexual-desire-disorder-hsdd