Unconsummated Marriage: What You Need To Know

March 22, 2022
Sexual Disorders

An unconsummated marriage (UM) is defined by a heterosexual couple’s inability to have penetrative vaginal intercourse since getting married. Many couples experience an unconsummated relationship, and while there is an unnecessary stigma associated with it, it can be treated or improved with the help of a professional. The insecurity and embarrassment felt by couples while experiencing UM are also somewhat influenced by the societal expectation of a “honeymoon period” for a newlywed couple. 

Some couples seek medical help within a few days or months after marriage, while some others are as late as 5-6 years after marriage. This is because this is commonly a time when the couple is questioned about their fertility or their lack of a child. However, it must be noted, that UM is prevalent or more limited to those in culturally conservative countries like India where sexual health education and premarital sex is not common. This often also is teamed up with the fact that many are hesitant to seek professional help when they need it the most. 

The key point of this article is to educate and inform couples on the facts surrounding an unconsummated marriage. While the lack of education is a highlight of this topic, even those that are well-educated on sexual health experience unconsummated relationships.

Diagnosing an unconsummated marriage 

In a UM, a heterosexual couple is unable to successfully experience vaginal penetrative intercourse. This can significantly affect the couple's relationship, psychologically - both as a unit and personally. You may be wondering how a UM is analysed and diagnosed. 

Couples in an unconsummated relationship would have made the following attempts but were still unable to achieve vaginal penetration: 

  • Couples would have attempted methods to help ease their possible discomfort, such as trying different sex positions, certain lubricants, fantasies, etc.
  • Couples would have avoided sexual intercourse for a duration of time, to help intensify the desire/arousal part of the sexual response cycle.
  • Couples would have attempted to experience other forms of sexual pleasure besides penetrative sex. 

In simple words, some couples ignore their concerns, while others try different ways to help consummate the marriage. When all attempts are unsuccessful, a medical professional can help diagnose and treat an UM. However, it is important to point out that some couples may have medical conditions such as vaginismus in women or erectile dysfunction in men that makes it difficult to experience vaginal penetration. These conditions can easily be identified by professionals who then can prescribe relevant and appropriate treatment. 

Causes of an unconsummated marriage

Essentially, based on the experience of most professionals, ED is considered to be the most common cause for UM. Followed by conditions such as vaginismus or vaginal stenosis and other concerns such as forced marriage where there is a lack of sexual desire. 

However, here are the different possible causes for unconsummated marriages:

Physical problems:

- Soreness/pain: Pain disorders such as vulvodynia, vaginismus, pelvic pain, glans hypersensitivity can cause an aversion to sexual intercourse.
- Erectile dysfunction: in some cases, this condition can have a psychological cause, which can be treated.
- Premature ejaculation: ejaculating before penetration can lead to a UM.
- Peyronie's disease: a curvature of the penis can cause discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse.

Psychological problems:

- Severe anxiety and fear: These can be associated with the fear of becoming pregnant, certain sexual phobias, performance anxiety (Read more on Performance Anxiety), PTSD from a history of abuse, etc.

Besides the problems mentioned above, UM can also be caused by the lack of awareness when it comes to sexual anatomy and physiology. Some couples do not have the right tools/access to understand sexual positions or techniques.

Treating  unconsummated marriage

It is treated based on the cause behind the UM. Professionals assess the couple's concerns by checking for both physical and psychological causes. With the information and medical history the professional collates, they formulate an effective treatment plan for the couple. Some methods of treatment include:
(1) Sex education

(2) Physical therapy (such as vaginal dilators in women or vacuum erection devices in men)
(3) Oral medications for conditions that require it (pain disorders, infections, erectile dysfunction, etc)
(4) Couple sex therapy

An unconsummated marriage can affect the psyche of both partners and further aggravate their relationship concerns. Speaking to an andrologist and/or a psychologist/psychiatrist will help couples identify either the psychological or physical causes of their unconsummated marriage, and understand it further. While effective treatment is the goal, couples will also be able to experience stress and anxiety relief as they start their treatment journey. 

Sexual health is as important as physical and mental health. In most cases, one consultation can go a long way. Personlised, discreet and judgement free treatment at your fingertips - book an online consultation with one of Allo’s leading experts.

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