Sexual Frustration: Do I Have It & How to Deal With It

Sexual frustration can be extremely aggravating, but there are some things you can do about it.

Dr. Jordan Soper
AASECT certified sex therapist specializing in sexual anxiety and trauma
by Dr. Jordan Soper Last updated 12/07/2023
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Sexual frustration

For some, the situation can get tense when there is a disconnect between sexual desire or arousal and reality. 

This disconnect in expectations wants, and lack of activity or pleasure often leads to the normal response of sexual frustration.

What does sexually frustrated mean? How do you know that you are sexually frustrated? 

Let’s take a closer look below.

What Is Sexual Frustration?

Simply put, sexual frustration is disappointment that stems from not being able to satisfy sexual urges.

Being sexually frustrated usually describes a state of stress, agitation, or irritation caused by either sexual inactivity or a state of dissatisfaction with sex overall.

Sexual frustration affects people of all sexualities, ages, and genders. It can be an issue even in committed relationships too.

What Is Sexual Frustration Syndrome?

Sexual frustration is not necessarily recognized as a syndrome, but the problem could become chronic if not addressed.

For example, some individuals deal with frustration due to sexual repression.

Therefore, addressing the repression issues is the only way to get past the frustration.

It is important to confront the main issue(s) associated with sexual frustration and not just focus on getting laid. 

Is Sexual Frustration Normal?

Yes. Sexual frustration is normal, even though it can be frustrating, by all rights.

It is perfectly normal to have uncomfortable feelings and sensations when you want sex and can't have it.

Whether it is because two people are not sexually compatible, there's an issue with sexual function, or someone is single, most people experience sexual frustration at some time in their life.

Symptoms Of Sexual Frustration

The signs of sexually frustrated situations tend to vary—all people react differently when there is a lack of sex or they feel they are not getting enough sex.

It is easy to suspect there is an issue with sexual frustration even when there are other problems to blame, however.

For example, stress within a relationship due to other types of friction can easily be blamed on a lack of sex, but the lack of sex may stem from friction between two people.

Nevertheless, there are a few good signs that may point to an issue with sexual frustration if there are no other root issues that can be blamed.

Here's a quick Am I sexually frustrated quiz that may help:

  • Do you frequently fantasize about sex?
  • Have you experienced trouble sleeping or restlessness?
  • Do you steer conversations toward sex?
  • Do you seek intimate touch and connection more often than usual?
  • Have you engaged in negative coping skills, such as drinking or binging on food?
  • Are you having relationship issues due to sex?
  • Are you irritable and feeling impatient?
  • Are you preoccupied with pornography?
  • Do you feel unfulfilled sexually by your partner?
  • Have you been riskier with sexual behaviors?

If you answered yes to multiple questions, there is a good chance sexual frustration is to blame.

What Happens to Your Body When You're Sexually Frustrated?

So, what does sexually frustrated feel like, physically speaking?

Can you get a headache from being sexually frustrated? Does your body hurt?

Some physical symptoms are possible with sexual frustration, but these tend to stem primarily from stress or prolonged physiological arousal (not the fun kind either).

Therefore, most physical complaints offered due to sexual frustration are actually secondary symptoms.

For example, some sexually frustrated people have trouble sleeping, often due to the stress of not getting sex or chronic sexual thoughts impacting their ability to fall asleep.

Lack of sleep can lead to headaches and even physical aches or pains.

Likewise, men who repeatedly get an erection without ejaculating can experience scrotal pain (aka "blue balls").

Blue balls sometimes referred to as epididymal hypertension, can be extremely painful and a very big reason to determine how to deal with sexual frustration as a man. 

Another problem people with penises have when it comes to not getting enough sex is premature ejaculation.

It is very common for lack of sexual gratification to cause intense excitement during sex, which can make it difficult to hold back. Something like a Desensitizing Spray may help in this situation.

Causes of Sexual Frustration

The assumption is usually that the cause of sexual frustration is simply not getting enough sex, but sexual frustration is most often a sign that something bigger is going on.

When sexual frustration comes about, it is more important to focus on the why of the situation than the situation itself.

Knowing the why when it comes to not having good sex makes it possible to address the situation appropriately.

The legitimate root causes of not getting enough sex or having satisfying sex can be related to the body, the mind, and even situations or relationships. 

Some physically-related root causes could be:

  • An injury - Certain injuries may make sex not possible or painful
  • Certain diseases - Some illnesses and diseases inhibit sexual desire, prohibit sexual function, or get in the way of sexual gratification
  • Chronic pain - Chronic pain can interfere with desire and the act of sex itself
  • Addictions - Substance or alcohol use/abuse can inhibit desire and function
  • Gynecological issues - Childbirth, painful sex, and other gynecological issues can inhibit sexual satisfaction

Some emotional issues can also interfere with sex, such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma/PTSD 

In a committed relationship, any of the above issues can cause sexual frustration for either or both partners.

In other words, if one partner is dealing with low sexual interest, this can lead to sexual frustration for their significant other.

Likewise, if one is dealing with sexual function problems like erectile dysfunction, this can mean both partners are sexually frustrated.

Side note, some vitamins, such as VitaFLUX for Men and VitaFLUX for Women, may support libido and sexual function.

When Should You Take Action?

The thing with being sexually frustrated is the situation can range in severity, and all people have their own definitions of what is personally acceptable.

If you feel you should address the situation, do so. By contrast, some decide to wait for the frustration to pass, which is perfectly possible.

Nevertheless, certain situations may indicate seeking some help or solution would be beneficial.

For example, if an individual's finances are affected because of sexual frustration or their relationship is suffering, seeking help is an avenue to explore.

Changes in Your Normal Behavior

Deviations from normal behavior may also indicate it is time to look for solutions or help. 

A few examples include:

  • Drinking or substance use 
  • Cheating or risky sexual behavior 
  • Missing work or school
  • Aggressive outbursts toward others
  • Self-harm behaviors 
  • Risky financial behaviors 

Can’t Have Sex - Alternatives to Sexual Activity

A lot of people assume it is impossible to learn how to avoid being sexually frustrated when you simply cannot have sex. However, this is not necessarily true.

Certain activities can help you figure out how to cope with horniness and the frustration that can come along with not being able to have sex at all.

Whether there is a physical ailment at play or separation from your partner, there are alternatives to think about.

1. Cuddling/Physical Intimacy

The need for human touch is a legitimate thing, according to research. And physical intimacy outside of sex can work wonders for a frustrated state.

If sex is off the table completely, try cuddling, touching, and even hugging or holding hands.

Touch doesn't even have to be sensual or romantic—touching in a totally platonic way may even soothe those agitated feelings that come from no sex.

2. Masturbation

Solo sex is an excellent medicine for sexual frustration and a perfectly normal part of human sexuality.

If you're physically capable, don't shy away from masturbation.

Studies have even shown that married individuals who masturbate have a much better level of sexual satisfaction, and this can definitely be a way of contending with sexual frustration.

3. Exercise

Exercise, much like sex, pushes a surge of endorphins and can deliver a rush of euphoric energy. 

Therefore, exercise can be a good replacement for sex.

Try something a little more high-intensity if possible, such as CrossFit, kickboxing, or hot yoga.

4. Shift Focus

A healthy distraction can be a replacement for sex and help you get your mind on something else. 

Consider taking up a new hobby, challenging yourself with an activity that goes beyond your comfort zone, or even mindful meditation.

Sex Is on the Table, but You’re Single

Sexual frustration can get really intense if you have plenty of libido and no one to tend to those urges.

Yet, there are ways to deal with those urges in a healthy way.

A few ideas on how to control sexual urges when single include:

  • Masturbation
  • Tantric masturbation 
  • Try a dating app
  • Try a "Friends with Benefits" setup

In a Relationship but Still Not Having Enough Sex?

Figuring out what to do when sexually frustrated in marriage or with a long-term partner can be a bit different from if you are single.

If you are in a totally monogamous relationship, certain solutions like seeking a one-night stand or hiring a sex worker are likely off the table.

In a sense, you are working together to have a satisfying sex life as a couple.

This means both partners have to put in the effort to meet the needs of one another. 

Here are a few pointers:

Communicate your desires: Communicate honestly with your partner. Talk about sexual frustration, and work together to determine what could be contributing to the problem. Talk about desire, eroticism, and passion; talking about sex can open the door to better sex. 

Try initiating sex: If you've been waiting on your partner to come to you, give an invitation, or show more interest. Sometimes, this is all it takes to get things back on track.

Try something new sexually: Sometimes, a sexual routine can get monotonous. Consider trying a few new things to make sex more interesting between the two of you. Something like warming arousal gel, a new sex toy, or even out-of-the-ordinary positions may work.

I’ve Tried It All, and Nothing Works

Still sexually frustrated? That's OK and doesn't necessarily mean this hurdle is not one you can't overcome.

It may be worth a shot to speak to a relationship or sex therapist to get to the legitimate root cause of the sexual frustration.

This can even be helpful if you have sexual frustration and a partner involved. Visit to search for certified sex therapists in your area. 


Sexual frustration means having negative emotional effects because of a lack of sexual gratification.

Sexual frustration can stem from a lot of situations—relationship challenges, physical challenges, and even problems with sexual performance or access to a partner.

Regardless of the cause or situation, sexual frustration can usually be addressed in a healthy way.

Dr. Jordan Soper

Dr. Jordan Soper

Dr. Jordan Soper is a Board Certified Psychologist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, and owner of The Center for Sexual Health and Wellness in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Soper’s areas of expertise include evidence-based treatment for sexual health and functioning disorders, anxiety, and trauma with diverse populations including military/Veterans, first responders, police officers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, young professionals, students, therapists, sexual assault survivors, and members of the BDSM/Kink/Fetish community. She is passionate about education, advocacy, and using humor to decrease shame and stigma around mental and sexual health concerns.


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  • Q&A on “Blue Ball” Syndrome. (2018). SMSNA. Accessed August 16, 2022.
  • Relational and Health Correlates of Affection Deprivation. (2014). Western Journal of Communication. Accessed August 16, 2022.
  • The Role of Masturbation in Marital and Sexual Satisfaction: A Comparative Study of Female Masturbators and Nonmasturbators. (2015). Journal of Sex Education and Therapy. Accessed August 16, 2022.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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