My wife has lost interest in sex and won't do anything about it

Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Sexual healing illo 11/02/2019

My wife and I are going through ups and downs, as in most marriages, but she has become less and less interested in making love. I know sex drives can differ, but she shows no intention of dealing with the issue. I have offered to help, but she doesn’t show much interest. She says she suffers from anxiety, and is reluctantly going to the doctor soon to ask for advice. She is already on anti-anxiety medication, but she can never pinpoint the causes of her anxiety. She was never like this when we were dating, and she used to enjoy life. I try to help her be happy, but it’s hard because her moods can swing so wildly.

Anxiety disorders do not necessarily have specific causes, such as particular incidents or situations. They often run in families and can have genetic foundations. They can be complex, can seriously undermine a person’s ability to enjoy sex, and should be treated. Imagine trying to focus on pleasure while feeling anxious.

Anxiety manifests itself in many ways, so it’s really important that you work as a team to seek an understanding of exactly what kind of anxiety she is suffering from, what causes the mood swings and whether her new medication is working (including whether or not her lack of interest in sex is a side-effect of it). And she needs to receive proper treatment.

There are many simple ways to reduce anxiety, such as exercise, meditation and yoga, but mood swings are likely to be challenging for both of you without the right medical help. Any low self-esteem she might have will particularly affect her sexual interest and arousal, so she must be helped to feel safe during sex and to give herself permission to accept pleasure.

• Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

• If you would like advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see

  • Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.