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Sexual Desire

Why Doesn't Sex Feel Good To Me?

by Lyndsey Harper, MD

Have you noticed that, more often than not, sex just doesn't feel good for you? While it's normal to experience somewhat unsatisfactory sexual experiences occasionally, it shouldn't be the norm.

In most cases, unpleasurable sex can be tied back to an underlying reason or medical condition. The good news, however, is that there's likely a way to fix it.

Sex shouldn't feel like a labor or chore. It should be an activity you take pleasure in. There are many reasons sex might not feel good for you, and here are some of the most common.

You have a psychological block

Sex isn't just physical; it's psychological, as such specific psychological issues could cause you not to enjoy sex. One of the most common psychological causes of unenjoyable sex is feelings of shame and stigma around sex.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression have also been proven to lower libido and impede sexual function in some people. Not all mental health issues can be medically diagnosed, but they also affect your sexual health and pleasure. Feeling stressed, guilty or insecure can also limit your sexual function.

If you suspect a mental health condition is coming in the way of your sexual pleasure, a mental health professional can help address any underlying issues and work with you to come up with a treatment plan.

The way you view yourself can significantly color your sexual pleasure. People who struggle with self-esteem and body image issues may find it challenging to enjoy sex.

You are not mentally or emotionally ready for sex.

Deciding to have sex is personal, and you should feel mentally and emotionally prepared before you proceed. From an emotional standpoint, there's a lot that goes into sex.

If you've experienced trauma or grew up with a culture of negative sex messaging, it can affect your views on sex and sexual pleasure. Hearing people say things like sex is dirty or wrong can affect how you mentally and emotionally prepare for sex, preventing you from encountering pleasurable sex. Doing the work to reframe how you view sex is crucial. Ideally, you would see sex as a gift to be explored and something to be enjoyed with a partner.

Sex is also highly individual. While some people can have enjoyable sex without emotional connection or security, others may need the utmost emotional connection and security. Figuring out where you fall on this scale helps you be comfortable with your sexual partner and enjoy sex more.

You shouldn't do anything with a new partner until you feel physically and emotionally ready. This can happen at different times for different people. You can do a little exploring to find the proper order for you.

Past experiences make sex an uncomfortable idea

If you've had a string of uncomfortable sexual experiences in your past, it's understandable that it may color how you view sex and how sex feels for you. Living through a negative sexual interaction will stay with you unless you've taken steps to resolve it with yourself, your partner, and sometimes a therapist.

Bad sexual experiences, sexual violence, and sexual trauma can consciously or subconsciously affect future sexual interactions negatively. If you haven't been experiencing pleasurable sex, reflecting on your past sexual encounters may hold some answers you've been looking for.

Overcoming sexual trauma can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Consulting with a mental health professional can help you resolve these underlying issues allowing you to enjoy sex again.

You don't feel comfortable with your partner

It's crucial to feel a hundred percent comfortable with a sexual partner before you have sex. How you feel about a sexual partner can make or break the entire experience.

The majority of first-time sexual encounters can be uncomfortable. The first few times you have sex with a new partner can also be awkward. This could be because you are nervous or shy but start to feel better as you get to know each other and learn about each other's bodies.

It’s crucial to keep communication open and honest as you go through the process of learning about each other’s bodies. In no time, you’ll find that you’ve become as familiar with your partner’s body, as your own body.

Medication that negatively affects libido or sensitivity

As a side effect, specific medicines can lower your libido and affect your vagina's sensitivity making sex less enjoyable and sometimes uncomfortable.

The birth control pill is often attributed as a cause of reduced libido. However, only about 3.5% of women report that the pill lowers their libido. Suppose you have started a new birth control and experience a change in your libido, sex drive, or sensitivity. You should report this to your healthcare provider, who may consider switching you to a birth control option that doesn't affect you in the same way.

The most commonly prescribed medications that affect sexual desire are antidepressants. If you've recently been prescribed antidepressants and noticed a change in your sexual life, you should speak to your healthcare provider about it. Your doctor may be able to find a better alternative for you. Beta-blockers, antihistamines, and antipsychotics can also cause decreased arousal and sensitivity.

You feel pain during sex

You can feel many things during sex, but you should typically not feel pain. There are a lot of reasons sex could be painful for you. At the top of this list is vaginal dryness, which can happen when on certain medications, after pregnancy, and during menopause.

Pain during sex can signify an underlying medical condition or other problem. People with endometriosis sometimes feel pain during sex, especially if deep penetration occurs. A condition called vaginismus which causes your pelvic floor muscles to contract, can also make penetrative sex painful. People with vaginismus report that sexual intercourse can feel like hitting a wall. Many times, they also find using tampons and getting a pap smear challenging.

Sexual positions requiring deep penetration, such as doggy style, can sometimes cause painful sex. However, people experience sexual positions differently. It's essential to communicate with your partner if a particular position doesn't feel good.

Things can feel a little more tender at specific points in your menstrual cycle. For instance, the cervix is a little lower in the vagina just before you start your period. For some women, this can cause painful sex, while it can feel pleasurable for others.

You haven't learned what feels good for you

A lot of sexual education focuses on your partner's pleasure and learning what feels good for your partner. While this is important, knowing what feels good for you is even more essential.

Being in tune with your body can dramatically change how you experience sex. During sex, pay attention to what feels good for you and what turns you on. Communicate this with your partner so they are not left guessing what you like, which can lead to a less pleasurable experience for you.

If you are not sure what feels food for you, masturbating is a great way to explore your sexuality on your own and discover the things that turn you on.

You have trouble getting aroused or climaxing

For some people, sex feels pleasant but getting aroused enough to enjoy it or climax seems elusive. Arousal and orgasms go hand in hand. You can have trouble with this if you are experiencing hormonal fluctuations, which could happen on certain medications like breast cancer treatments and during menopause.

If you are not mentally prepared for a sexual encounter, you will have more difficulty becoming aroused and getting an orgasm. Conditions that block the blood flow to the pelvic floor, such as diabetes, and those that affect the nerves to the pelvis, like back or pelvic floor injuries can also cause a condition known as orgasm dysfunction.

What can you do?

The first step to getting your sexual experiences from uncomfortable or unpleasant to enjoyable is identifying why sex doesn't feel good. It could be because of one or more of the reasons mentioned above. In these cases, finding a solution is possible.

If you've been having trouble enjoying sex more often than not, it's worth speaking to an expert, such as a doctor or sex therapist, about the difficulties you've been experiencing. They can also help you identify the root cause, whether it's a physical or psychological problem.

There are many reasons why you may not be enjoying sex. If you've never enjoyed sex and this is a problem for you, finding the root cause is the first step.

If you had a healthy and enjoyable sex life but suddenly started experiencing painful or uncomfortable sex or lower libido, a medical reason is likely the underlying problem. In that case, speak to a women's health practitioner, such as a gynecologist or sex medicine specialist. They'll check to see if a medical or pelvic floor condition is responsible for your changed experience.

When should you see a doctor?

A medical reason could be the cause of painful or unenjoyable sex. You should speak to your doctor if you suspect this may be the case. Talking to your doctor about your sex life may initially feel awkward, but an experienced and skilled doctor will quickly put you at ease.

If you notice any of the following changes in your sex life, you should speak to your doctor.

  • You are having trouble becoming aroused

  • You are having difficulty having an orgasm

  • You have reduced libido that is bothersome to you

  • You suspect you have a vaginal infection or an STI

  • You suddenly start experiencing pain during sex


Having sex should feel good more often than not. If you haven't been enjoying sex, you should know that this isn't the norm, and there's likely a fix for you. Understanding why you aren't enjoying sex may not happen overnight. It's a process that requires a lot of learning and unlearning. Rosy offers a wealth of information that can help you identify and address underlying issues affecting your sexual pleasure.

Lyndsey Harper, MD is the Founder & CEO of Rosy, a Board Certified Ob/Gyn and sex medicine expert.