Why Women Have ‘Mercy Sex’ When Only Their SO Is In The Mood

by Sheena Sharma
Milles Studio

Have you ever felt pressured into having "mercy sex?" I totally have. And we're not alone.

First off, let's define "mercy sex." Urban Dictionary says it's "sex, coital or oral, given to a guy for comfort reasons rather than because of desire or love."

In other words, it's when you're not really DTF, but kind of just give in and have sex with your partner anyway.

A new survey from the American Sexual Health Association of 2,500 women, aged 21 to 50, reveals that 81 percent of women have had sex with their partner even if they aren't in the mood.

That's a huge chunk of women. This is a huge epidemic because, well, no one should ever have to do something they aren't comfortable doing, especially when it comes to any version of intimacy.

So why do women have sex when they don't want to?

The Real Reasons Women Have Mercy Sex

I personally have done it because despite not being horny, I also didn't want to piss off a horny guy I was spending time with.

Leah S. Millheiser, MD, FACOG, IF, clinical assistant professor of OB-GYN and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University Medical Center explains women also have mercy sex when their sexual desire is low.

Low libido is caused by a number of psychological and biological reasons. One of the most obvious reasons a woman wouldn't want to have sex with her partner is because she's angry with him, regardless of how horny she is. In such a situation, emotion can trump sexual desires.

WebMD also cites body image issues from the media as a reason we don't feel comfortable having sex. It's hard to see a woman with a perfect body plastered on every magazine cover and building and not feel un-sexy.

Women are also more likely to feel sex is "routine" if they're in a long-term relationship or married with kids. Regarding a woman losing sexual desire, Ruth Morehouse, Ph.D., co-director of the Marriage & Family Health Center, told Oprah Magazine, "When two people have been together for a long time, sex often gets routine and stops feeling personal."

Dr. Millheiser, on the other hand, notes women feel pressured into having sex with their partners just to appease their needs: "They often see the end result of increased intimacy with their partner, making their partner feel good or feeling good themselves as an incentive to engage in a sexual act."

But if a woman regularly has sexual concerns that are causing strain on her personal and romantic life, she may have FSD, female sexual dysfunction, says Dr. Millheiser.

How Women Can Stop Having Mercy Sex

Dr. Millheiser suggests four main things a woman can do to avoid being put in a situation where she feels like she needs to have sex with her partner even if she doesn't want to.

1. Choose the right time to bring up sexual concerns.

Dr. Millheiser advises setting a specific date and time to have a talk: "You want to give both yourself and your partner enough time to hear and be heard without any distractions."

2. Don't rush the conversation.

You and your partner will most likely both have a lot to say, Dr. Millheiser says. So if you find yourself having a series of talks, don't be scared off from the topic.

3. Be supportive.

Dr. Millheiser says that although only the female experiences FSD first-hand, it affects both partners. You and your partner should both be equally open and willing to listen to one another.

4. Seek outside help.

A woman shouldn't stop at being open with just her partner. Dr. Millheiser says women should be as open and honest with their healthcare providers as possible, as well.

Women should be as open and honest with their healthcare providers about their sex lives as possible.

"A therapist can help create an environment where both you and your partner may feel more comfortable sharing feelings and coming up with solutions," Dr. Millheiser says.

This is important to keep in mind in the event that you and your partner are shy, or feel like you're going through sexual miscommunication alone.

Dr. Millheiser also suggests checking out Find My Spark, a site that includes tips for how to help you start a conversation with your doctor if you're finding yourself having mercy sex.

Because sex should always be something you want to do, not something you feel like you have to do.