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Let’s Talk About Lesbian Bed Death


If you’re not familiar with the term, lesbian bed death is the phenomenon that is said to occur between long term lesbian couples where their sex life essentially comes to a screeching halt.

When I first heard about the possibility of lesbian bed death, I took a personal vow to do what ever could so that it wouldn’t happen to my wife and I, and since then I have learned a lot about it.

The term “lesbian bed death” itself was coined by sociologist Pepper Schwartz in her 1983 book “American Couples”. According to Schwartz, lesbians have less sex than any other type of couple, and they generally experience less sexual intimacy the longer the relationship lasts.

If you are a sexual person, and sexual intimacy is important to you in a relationship, lesbian bed death can be a bummer. I’ve found that with some lesbians I have talked to however that it’s not really a big deal to them and they are okay without having the pressure to perform or the need to be naked with their partner. Regardless of the personal preferences of each couple, the actual reality of lesbian bed death is something that many lesbians face, and it’s not just because we’re gay.

Aging plays a big part in the reduction of sexual intimacy between all couples both gay and straight. So does life in general… it’s hard to wind down and not think about work, bills and everything else. Couples with children have to be more creative about getting together and are prone to have sex less frequently as their children age.

Many couples face struggle when one has different ideas of what intimacy means than the other. One might be satisfied with cuddling in bed, another might desire a more comprehensive encounter. Timing is a factor as well. We don’t as a society ask the person we are dating what time of day they enjoy having sex in the first conversation we have. It can take a long time with your partner before you have the full scope of them sexually; including their likes, dislikes and response to your particular sexual personality. This is true for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Aside from all of the factors above, I think a big factor in lesbian bed death could actually be hormonal.

There is a study showing that 80% of lesbians have poly-cystic ovaries, and 38% of them have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Having PCOS myself, I know personally the effects that fluctuating hormones can have on a person. Even if you didn’t have the syndrome, having cysts on your ovaries affects your hormones. You can have elevated levels of any of the major sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. It’s easy to talk about these things in passing, but estrogen and testosterone have major implications in how our bodies work affecting our body and mood, and even our personality to some degree. Just think about a women who is going through PMS, or a man who has been taking steroids and you might understand what I mean.

Men do not experience the dramatic fluctuations in hormones that women do, and thus why you wouldn’t have “gay bed death”.

This is also why in heterosexual relationships where the sex life has died it is usually the woman whose interest in sex has declined and the man who is left complaining that his wife is ‘frigid’ because she’s never in “the mood”. This has led some to attribute lesbian bed death (and the lack of gay bed death) to the fact that there are now two potentially ‘frigid’ women in a relationship who are never in “the mood”.

I completely beg to differ.

True there are two women in a relationship who are not in “the mood”, but not because they are ‘frigid’. If  you follow the rationale that lesbian bed death can be attributed to hormonal factors, you will see that women really are sometimes just not in “the mood” physically. Fluctuating hormones can make you feel all kinds of things (nasueaus, grumpy, achy, depressed, anxious, fatigued, etc.), and for some women feeling sexual is not a regular occurrence. This makes it hard to find the right moment for a partner to approach their wife to be intimate, but now imagine if the partner is also a woman, who approaches their wife less frequently because they are not always feeling sexual themselves.

Overcoming this obstacle in any relationship is going to take some work.

Many suggest spicing up your love life with toys, lingerie, and other excitements. I think those are icing on the cake and should be used as incentives for good behavior, but that’s just me. My personal suggestions for overcoming lesbian bed death (and bed death in general) is to start with communication. You have to talk about it. You have to get to know what the other person likes, dislikes, etc.

Another thing to work on is your willingness. What are you willing to experience and what is your partner willing to experience?

Then have some compassion. Has your partner had a long day at work? Has it been a while since you two have been intimate? Do you have an un-resolved issue between you two? Whatever the case be sure you are compassionate to what is going on in each others lives and consider if being intimate is the right thing for both of you before you make your move.

When you have the chance to be intimate with  your partner, infuse the moment with passion.

Don’t show up to this moment with half hearted intentions. Show each other why you are the one that each other has chosen to share these moments with. Passion between lovers is unparalleled, and those moments can give you something to reflect on afterward until your next time together.

When its all said and done, show each other some gratitude. Be grateful you have a partner to share intimate moments with no matter how few or far between. Don’t be afraid to leave each other thank you notes or express your gratitude in other ways.

Other things you can do to help your partner get in the mood if you suspect that hormonal fluctuations are playing a part in your bed death…

  • Exercise! Even if you are just dancing around the room, getting your blood flowing and body moving also gets the adrenaline flowing and releases other stimulating effects as well.
  • Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Drinking water flushes out toxins from our body that can trigger reactions which affect our hormones. Getting proper sleep is essential to the body’s proper processing of hormones, as well as other basic functions your body needs to feel good.
  • Just be happy. Do things that make you happy and elevate your mood. Visit friends, listen to music, go for a drive. Get yourself in a good mood and then carry it over to the bedroom.

Remember, by no means am I an expert, just a gay girl with a view on the subject, so if you feel that you are facing a serious problem, I truly endorse visiting a professional in the field.

If you have any ideas or insights on lesbian bed death, please feel free to share them in our comments section below.



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17 Responses to Let’s Talk About Lesbian Bed Death

  1. Crystal

    February 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    This is a great article.. Ive been doing alot of research on “lesbian bed death” and have come to the conclusion that after 4 years, my partner and i are there.. the only issue that i seem to continue running into is that my sex drive is still VERY active, however my partners is not.. shes about 4 years older than me and im wondering if that has something to do with it.. ive tried everything from toys and so on and nothing seems to help.. after reading countless articles and blogs i have yet to run into anyone with the same situation…is there anything else that i can do to get us back to where we were??????????

  2. Zztop

    January 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I have been in my relationship for 10 years. What a wonderful woman I have. We get along fantastic, we like to do a lot of the same things…except for sex. I feel like I am horny almost everyday. My partner, not so much. We are both 43 and I’d like to think we’re pretty healthy. No meds, quit smoking almost 3 years ago. I have never cheated and do not want to or have any intentions to. She knows I have my toys and that’s all. She does not mind them at all. She does work very long hours and sometimes she works 6-7 days a week. (retail manager). The last time we had sex was about 1 year ago. I am thankful for our special times and I enjoy them very much. It is just so hard when they are so few and far between. I guess in my own little perfect world, we’d be having sex 3-4 times a week, the way it was for the longest time.
    Just wanted to share my story. I thank everyone for their input and the write of the story itself. Very good read!

  3. S D K

    October 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I have been in a Lesbian relationship for 6 years. I started very late in my life, I was 58 when I met this beautiful younger woman, who has helped change my life forever. The first year and a half felt like Heaven. There were a lot of family issues on both sides of our family, but when we were alone everything disappeared, it was just she and I. We couldn’t get enough of each other. Then all of a sudden (or so it felt) she went completely cold on me. She is 8 years younger than I, and we are at the point where I get a light kiss when she gets home from work and another when she goes to bed. I have chosen to move out of our bed, because she gotten very frigid and really doesn’t want me to touch her. I feel very lost. I miss us. She is the only Lesbian relationship I have ever been in, when it was good, it was very good, but when things changed, they have never gone back to where she even wants me to touch her sexually. I am totally blown away and at my age, I don’t think I could let myself even try to find someone who would want to be with me. I don’t even know how to start. I am living in a relationship with someone who, likes my cooking, having an extra pair of hands to help her move something or take care of our dogs. When she is home she likes to be in control of everything we watch on T.V. and hates me trying to talk to her while we watch T.V. I again feel very lost. I desperately want to meet someone who will at least enjoys cuddling and can walk away from a show. I love her, but I fear things will never get better.

  4. Amy

    September 22, 2012 at 12:56 am

    My partner and I have been together for almost 2 yrs and this has become a serious issue for me. We are about to start home insemination and want a family. I love her deeply and its the best relationship I have ever had (minus the death of our sex life)… I am 37 and she 26. you would think it would be me not interested but it not. Im not okay with a sexless exsistance. Im at a loss because she doesnt even want to discuss it. Just says she is tired and doesnt feel like it. Somethings got to give or my shower head and I maybe force into an intense secret affair…

  5. Jill

    June 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I think a big part of lesbian bed death is attributed to medications. How many of us are on some kind of meds? I can honestly say out of every five lesbians I know, 4 of them are on either an anti-depressant or an anxiety medication. Most of this depression and anxiety is caused by the cruel world we live in. It’s not easy being outside the norm, especially in a small town where the ONE gay bar is hated and targeted. Plus, dealing with family (catholic), and closed minded people all around you is a real bummer.
    So yeah, lesbian bed death does occur in some relationships. It’s the side effect of the meds, but hey, I’d rather be happy than satisfied! Lol!

  6. fran

    March 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I have read so much about lesbian bed death. and I realize that it is true for some couples, I am one of those couples, after 12 years of being together and our sex life has dwindled to nothing. I am fed up and have ended the relationship many times over this. when I confront my partner she always has an excuse valid or not. I am not dead sexually and thinking about taking on a lover who can give me the romantic attention i deserve. and too boot we are both past the menopause stage, we have always had very different libidos. when we talk about this it is always ends up in a fight and me storming out.
    what to do, what to do, what to do.

  7. jac

    February 19, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    It’s true, we have killed a few beds, but they died happily.

  8. Jo Mead

    January 13, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Glad to see there are other lesbians also discussing bed death. I raised the matter in a Pink Sofa forum recently and copped a barage of defensive commentary from women happy in their long-term sexless relationships for daring to suggest that human sexuality has the potential to develop with age and that we needn’t accept as inevitable that our relationships must become sexless. At least the issue is being aired. It troubles me, as a lesbian who would like to have a long-term relationship in which sex remains an active expression of intimacy, that the acceptance of lesbian bed death as inevitable is so pervasive, to the point that most lesbians I know would not think to seek relationship counselling or any other form of professional help to rekindle sexual passion within their relationship. Rather than find explainations that reinforce the idea that lesbian bed death is natural and inevitable, I want to find others who refute this poisonous notion. After all, how many otherwise happy lesbian relationships end essentially because the sex has dried up?

    • Indigo

      February 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Amen sista!

    • MM

      August 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

      If we are all ending up here at this site on this blog, then we are suffering already, sexless is just not okay, at least not for me. But time and time again in my life…… starts out hot and steamy and fades within 2 years………….ugh over and over, not to say sometimes other things made the union go toxic. But now in love, crazy deep love 6 years, with someone that I want to stay forever with. But they are a bit older,have been through the change, they take HRT which helps with alot………..except sex physically that is I am told they think about it durning the day while at work:( does not help me lol. thought I would do some reading on this subject wow there is alot to be read, but its the same ole’ story over and over…………feels like a curse to me, since I am bi and have seen this happen, with men as well, but I will say this, it’s less emotional for me with men so that might be the difference. Just frustrating, to be in the best ever in the prime of my life and her’s, and have this issue to even think about……….bummer!!

    • c.s.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:06 am

      i’m surprised that no one has talked with a really modern minded female gynecologist. when i spoke with mine she suggested testosterone ointment which works like a charm. lets you know there’s still life down there. she also suggested and prescribed viagra which was also great and gave said life a kick start! who says these meds are just for men only? i am 62, postmenopausal, had hysterectomy and chemo for 8 months and i still love my ointment and my partner of 14 years.