Sometimes sex doesn't sell.

The company that owns Penthouse magazine and a host of online dating and adult websites filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday.

The move by Penthouse owner, Sunnyvale-based FriendFinder Networks, comes as many in the adult entertainment industry struggle because of an increase in free online options.

In a news release, the company said bankruptcy was "the most efficient and cost-effective way for the company ... to continue to operate our business.

In addition to Penthouse, FriendFinder runs adult websites and online dating sites such as FriendFinder.com, SeniorFriendFinder.com and BigChurch.com.

FriendFinder was created in 2007 after Penthouse Media Group acquired Various Inc. The company went public in 2011 under its current name.

FriendFinder Chief Executive Anthony Previte said the agreement with the majority of its note holders will allow the company to refinance long-term debt, reducing interest expense and positioning its strongest brands for growth.

The company's current common stock will be extinguished once the agreement becomes effective and will no longer trade on the open market, FriendFinder said in a news release.

Last month, FriendFinder's stock was delisted from the Nasdaq exchange because it failed to trade above $1. It is now sold over the counter.