Health · Marriage & Life Partners · Sex & Sexuality

Dr. Hilda on Sex: “I Just Can’t Give What He Wants Me to Give”

She’s back! Gynecologist Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., a member of WVFC’s Medical Advisory Board, has written many articles for us as one half of WVFC’s “Sex Talk Team.” In the past, Dr. Hutcherson and her teammate, gynecologist Patricia Yarberry Allen, have had many vigorous—and frank—discussions of sexual matters on this site, from terrific orgasms to the use of sex toys to sex after hysterectomy to vaginal conditioning.

Now Dr. Hutcherson is back with us, ready to write the occasional “Dr. Hilda on Sex” column for us. Both Dr. Allen, WVFC’s publisher, and Dr. Hutcherson invite you to send Dr. Hilda any questions ([email protected]) you may have been too shy to ask. Like this one, for instance. —Ed.


Dear Dr. Hilda:

Thanks for writing about sexual issues. It is reassuring somehow to understand that some of my questions and concerns are shared by others. I am 46 and have regular periods. I use an IUD for contraception. I am a stay at home mother with two middle-school children who are doing well but who really take up almost all my time with their after-school activities: sports, music, friends, and then the Saturday morning in-season lacrosse and hockey games that often require long drives. My husband commutes three hours a day and has a stressful job that, fortunately, makes us financially secure. We have always been best friends and love being parents.

The problem is that I just don’t have any time—or, if I am really telling the truth, the energy—for sex. My husband is a very thoughtful lover, and wants me to be orgasmic, which is a real drag because I just want to get it over with and get some rest. I was never a woman who lived for sex, but now I dread nighttime, and often stay up late doing emails for the PTA and other volunteer work that I do for the children. This is causing a big rift in our relationship.  I just don’t know how to fix it.  I can’t give what he wants me to give. What should we do?



Dr. Hilda Responds:

Dear Marcia:

Thanks for sharing your story. It is one that I hear almost every day. It is not easy to take care of a home and two very busy adolescents. At the end of the day, sex can begin to feel like one more chore that you need to do for someone else.

Believe me, though, sex is as vital to your physical and mental wellbeing as it is for your husband. I, personally, feel that sex is important for a good marriage. We all know that sex releases chemicals that make you feel closer to your partner. And is it really fair to ask him to go without sex? You say that he is your best friend and a good father. He works hard to provide financial stability and is a thoughtful lover who works hard to make sure you are sexually satisfied each time. He is obviously attracted to you. Unless there is something that you are not sharing with me, he is a great guy. Straight out of a Harlequin Romance novel! Your children are important, but so are your husband and your marriage. So let’s figure out how to get your mojo back.

The first thing I would recommend is a visit to your doctor to rule out any medical problems that might be causing your loss of desire. For example, hormonal problems, like thyroid disease, might cause fatigue and low libido. Review your medications, even those you buy over the counter.

Then begin to relinquish some of your many activities so you can have energy left for sex and intimacy. You might begin with decreasing your volunteer activities. Find other parents who can share the driving to after-school activities. Talk honestly to your husband about your feelings. He may have his own suggestions of ways to make life easier and less stressful for you.

Find a few minutes in every day to relax and breathe. Carve out some time for Marcia! And schedule time for sex with your husband! Make it a priority. Try sex in the morning, when you are well rested; it is often the best time for an older man. Or take a nap in the afternoon so you have more energy for sex later.

Here’s what I want you to do this week: While the kids are at school, go out and buy a matching set of sexy undies that make you feel delicious. Stop and get a manicure and pedicure on the way home. While getting pampered, read a few chapters of an erotic novel, like Fifty Shades of Grey. Stop at the grocery store and buy chocolate sauce, and place it on your bedside table. Call your husband and tell him that you have a big luscious surprise waiting, so he’d better hurry home. Send the kids out to a sleepover with friends or family. Meet your husband at the door wearing only your new undies and a pair of high heels, preferably red! Then let your imagination run wild.

Marcia, you can do it! And you ‘ll be happy you did. But if this doesn’t work, make an appointment with a sex and marital therapist.


Join the conversation

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  • Roz Warren April 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I have yet to meet a man who is turned on by chocolate (or, for that matter, a pedicure) but then I don’t get around much. Besides, who is going to wash those chocolate-drenched sheets? I’m guessing it’s not Mr. Three-Hour-Commute. (So Marcia can add that chore to her growing “To Do” list.) That said, morning sex if you’re too wiped out for evening sex? Great idea. Reading erotica or porn or whatever the hell 50 Shades is? Also a great idea. Scheduling more time for intimacy and cutting down on time spent on other activities makes sense to me. Most of all, talking with your “thoughtful lover” and good provider about how the two of you can make this work? That’s the best piece of advice yet.

  • Hilda Hutcherson April 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    My advice to the writer, who was so kind to share her experience, was to do things that might make her feel sexy and increase her own desire for sex. I have found that many women become more focused on sexual pleasure when they dress in certain types of clothing. Pampering yourself, especially when you have been focused on the needs of everyone else, can help you relax, feel special, and increase desire. And reading erotica can stimulate your largest sex organ, your brain, increasing your arousal and interest in sex.

    So my advice was not to turn her husband on, as it appears that he is already turned on, very much attracted to his wife, and an attentive lover who wants to help her achieve pleasure before he does. It appears that he is really trying to do his part to get things back on tract. I was simply telling her some of the things that she might do to boost her own internal libido. This advice may not work for some women, but has worked for others.

    I also recommended that she ask for help, decrease the numerous activities that might be draining her of energy, etc. It seems that she wants to get back to an active and satisfying sex life, and I hope my advice helped her even a little bit.

  • SUSAN April 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Well, my name’s not “Diane” either but at least it’s a name, so that’s a start! I really think you’re missing the point here and I have a feeling there is a generational issue at play when discussing this. I think perhaps the notion that, although this man may be interested in sex, perhaps he is just not all that great at it. Perhaps it’s robotic and predictable. Since we’re going down old song lyrics lane here, the advice given here reminds me of that old hideous song from the 60’s called “Wives and Lovers”. “Hey, LITTLE GIRL, comb your hair, fix your makeup – soon he will open the door…” This woman has no interest in the sex. Your advice was to make dress up and have interest in sex and put the responsibility on her to spice it up. She said nothing about being “angry with the role that the men in her life has become accustomed to”. I think that’s a very simplistic response to a complex issue.

    I do thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments.

    • Walker June 3, 2018 at 6:20 am

      Thank you for this response. My thoughts exactly. This advice is so conventional and does not acknowledge that for many of us the consumer trappings of lingerie and manicures (unnecessary and self-objectifying products for which women are pressure to spend their 78 cents-to-a-man’s dollar) and badly-written paeans to female submission like 50 Shades is an insult to our self-value and therefore a major turn-off.

      Many women are turned on by a man who shoulders his share of the domestic responsibility, allowing us both the time to attend to our own well-being and freeing us from the resentment that builds within traditional relationships where women’s work and time is devalued and invisible. Given the numbers of women in heterosexual relationships for whom sex is a chore, perhaps dressing up like a sex-cupcake for your man’s consumption isn’t working?

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. April 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm


    You may call me Dr. Darlin and I will be happy with it. I meant no offense. And it was written at 10:49 pm after a long day of work while I was still in the office.

    Dr. Hilda wrote a very thoughtful piece in response to a question from a women who had enough interest in the state of her intimate life to actually write to a website for information. This woman has chosen child and community centered activities that drain her of her energy and has not chosen to do anything for herself that could make her less exhausted for her intimate life.

    And, the men are supposed to do what a woman who has some interest in sex asks them to do. What would you like? There is a line from a 1970’s song from a musical about why a divorce happened, “He couldn’t give what I couldn’t ask for”. So, what do you want?

    Many women tell me that dressing up is a turn on for them more than it is for their husbands. (Roz is the punctuation right here?)

    No one means to offend women who don’t want to reignite the pilot light on their libido or who are angry with the role that the men in their lives have become accustomed to.

    I am thrilled that this post has generated such intelligent and civil conversation.


    Dr. Darlin’

  • Susan April 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

    With all due respect Dr (despite having been called “Darlin'” myself…), you addressed neither this woman’s question nor mine. She mentioned nothing about her husband having any difficulties. You ask “what else does a woman want?”. She already said it – she wants to FEEL LIKE doing this!
    I am well aware of the difference between a sexual relationship and a business partnership. I actually have BOTH with my husband. I would like to know however, why it is ok for the MAN to get into bed every night in your aforementioned “white t-shirt” and “cotton” boxers while the onus is on the woman to primp and prance? Seems to me adding MORE things to her to-do list and implying it’s her “wifely duty” is NOT conducive to a better sex life. Well, not in 2013 anyway.

  • Susan April 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Although I’m straying a bit from the original question here; I still have to ask: Women are supposed to primp and dress and get a mani/pedi and read sexy books and buy chocolate sauce and wear sexy lingerie and… what are the men supposed to do? React? Really tired of getting a checklist of things to do while the men are told simply to bathe regularly and try not to pass gas.

  • hilda hutcherson April 10, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Ellensue, I agree with you. Worth ruining a good set of sheets!

  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson April 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Excellent advice! And don;t forget the whipped cream to go with the chocolate sauce!