Dear Dr. G,

I am in my mid thirties and had been married for six years.

I have a confession to make. Although we have been together for eight years, including two years prior to the wedding, we have not been sexually active at all.

I really don’t understand why, but I am attracted to my wife. However, when I build up the courage to have sex with her, the erectile rigidity just fades away.

My wife and I are a very private couple, and we don’t tend to talk about this.

My wife is incredibly tolerant, as she loves me a lot. However, six years after a sexless marriage, the bedroom issue has really put a strain on our relationship. My wife gets particularly upset when friends and relatives ask about children, especially during festivities.

I would like to put Dr. G on the spot about my sexual conundrum this week.

Why am I not sexually inclined? Is that normal?

I do admit I get morning erections and can masturbate since teenage days. However, I don’t really do it much these days. I wonder whether I suffer from -erectile dysfunction?

Is sexless marriage common? Is it manageable?

Our biggest issue now is not having a baby. Is there any way we can still have a baby without sexual intercourse?

As my wife and I have a very strong relationship, I think we can accept a sexless life. I really think if we can have children soon, then our lives will be complete.

Please help,

Sexless man.

A marital union with little or no sexual activities between spouses is well documented. According to the United States National Health and Social Life Survey in 1994, sexless marriage is reported to be around 2%. As the definition of a non-sexual marriage is broadened to sexual intimacy that is fewer than ten times per year, the survey identified around 20% of the married respondents falling into this category. The statistic is consistent with the Newsweek report identifying 15-20% of American couples as having sexless relationships.

The frequency of sexual intercourse is clearly age dependent. Sexual hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen determine the sexual desire, declines with advancing age. This will in turn diminish the frequency of intimacy. Studies have shown that 10% or less among the married population below the age of 50 have not had sex in the past year. However, another study demonstrated 20% of couples under the age of 40, reported having sex only a few times a year.

The decrease in sexual frequency to the state of sexless marriage is known as marriage blanc. In the court of law, blank and null marriage of non-consummation is commonly used as grounds for divorce. The causes of sexless marriage usually stem from one partner. Feelings of hurt, neglect or poor communication are the three most common reasons for the dampening of sexual passions. Naturally, the lack of communication can lead to distrust, anxiety and misunderstanding which impair the sexual intimacy.

In the modern urban lifestyle, it is not uncommon for couples to accept a sexless marriage due to a busy lifestyle and different work schedule. Work and childcare can lead to stress and chronic fatigue. The acceptance of sex being low in life’s priorities is natural. Ironically, adultery can also be a cause of sexless marriage as the extra-marital affairs can reduce the sexual interest towards the spouse. Otherwise, the discovery of the affairs can understandably cease all sexual contacts.

Sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction are well recognised to be the causes of sexless relationship especially with advancing age. The emergence of morning erections and ability to masturbate are indicative of intact neurovascular structures of the penis. The most likely causes of inability to penetrate amongst younger men is likely to be psychological. In reality, both physical and psychological erectile dysfunctions can both be rectified with the help of pills.

Sexual aversion from the beginning of the marriage is highly unusual. Mutual acceptance of abstinence due to religious principles, avoidance of sexually transmitted infections or incompatibility of sexual orientation may be the reasons. Such arrangement often succumbs to conflict and resentment, as the build up of the sexual oppression may lead to guilt and hostility.

The ability to identify healthy sperms and eggs enables clinicians to delivery semen to the uterus, by the mode of IUI (Intra-Uterine-Injection) without sex. Otherwise, the induction of ovulation for fertilisation with a sperm in IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) can definitely allow procreation to be shouldered by scientist, and sex for the sole purpose of recreation.

The American Country Singer who famously sang Big Bad John and the creator of Jimmy Dean Sausage once said: “Love is the ice cream sundae, with all the marvellous coverings. Sex is the Cherry on top!” In many conservative relationships, sexual taboo and oppression in upbringing may bring negative connotation to sex. When such mentality persists into a relationship, the sexual aversion can eventually cause conflicts and cracks. Dr G is rarely put on the spot by couples entrapped in a sexless marriage. His advise to the sexless man is: “Your marriage is already the love of ice cream sundae with all the toppings. Let the Big Bad John claim the cherry on the top, before the ice cream melts away. You never know, the baby may cum along and that will be a marvellous icing on the cake!”

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