Dealing With a Sexless Marriage

One doctor calls sexless marriages an epidemic among American couples.

ByABC News via logo
February 15, 2009, 4:59 PM

Feb. 16, 2009 — -- Sex may be on television, in the theaters and advertising, but it's not in the homes of 20 million American couples who are in sexless marriages.

Once a taboo topic, sexless marriages are getting more attention, in part because so many couples are complaining about the lack of sexual activity in their unions, according to one gynecologist.

It's an epidemic, Dr. Hilda Hutcherson said.

In a sexless marriage, couples only are sexually intimate 10 or fewer times a year.

"Sex is essential for a great marriage, and the reason is there are a number of chemicals and hormones that are released when you have sex with your partner that actually bonds couples," Hutcherson said.

Ginny married her husband, Jon, 17 years ago and has watched as their sex life has decreased. The couple asked ABC News to withold their last name to protect their children.

"We're not cherishing each other and loving each other, I mean, even without the sex, you have to love the person," Ginny said.

She longs for the intimacy and love the pair had when they first said, "I do."

"Things started to change, I think when our kids became teenagers. And I noticed more stress in our life," she said. "We actually had a lot of arguments, and were actually in separate bedrooms."

"That's when things really slowed down," Ginny said.

But even after the children left the nest the Nestlerodes' sex life didn't improve.

"Now it's kind of like 'every once in a while we might have sex,'" said Jon.

That once in a while translates to somewhere between once every three or four months, according to the couple.

Demanding careers and hobbies also impeded the couple's attempts to get closer.

Ginny's late working hours and Jon's train pastime didn't leave much time left over for the two of them.