It is generally understood that non-consummation refers to a situation in which vaginal-penile sexual intercourse in a committed intimate relationship has not taken place. Historically and by definition non-consummation has always been applicable to heterosexual couples – In the UK, non- consummation in a same sex couple marriage is not grounds for annulment as it is in a heterosexual couple. Some of the most common presentations in both men and women as to why a relationship may not be consummated are: sexual phobia, vaginismus, premature ejaculation, inhibited sexual desire, sexual trauma, sexual ignorance, fear of pregnancy, family of origin, contamination fear, erectile dysfunction and dyspareunia (painful intercourse).

It is important to note that non-consummation can also happen because of a choice one makes to be celibate, and when this choice is agreed upon with both partners then it is not problematic and it can be positive, empowering and lead to growth. The couple may need normalizing that a fulfilling sex life does not need to involve penetration. When this happens in a couple and they find it problematic, then it’s best to consult a psychosexual therapist for relationship work. One of the first couple of things to do is to rule out any organic cause from either partner and explore the wider cultural and religious context.