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How Is Stress Affecting Your Sex Life?


Are you living with stress? Of course, you are. All of us have some stressors in our lives, and that’s completely normal. 

In fact, it’s so normal that there are books and resources dedicated to helping educate people about everyday stress. The idea is that normalizing these discussions can open doors of communication about stress and coping mechanisms, which can help save numerous lives. 

One good way to begin taking inventory of your stress risk is by listing some of the stressors in your life and coming up with ways to manage your stress. 

Another way to relieve stress for you and your partner is by having sex. The catch-22 is that stress can derail your sex life. 

How Stress Affects Your Sex Life

Stress is intricately tied to your sex life, whether you realize it or not. In some ways, it directly affects your sex life, it can also have profound indirect consequences, and it can quickly become a cyclical problem.

A couple having intimacy problems

The primary direct connection between stress and sex is related to hormones.

The hormone cortisol is often the culprit. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which is considered the stress hormone because it controls blood sugar levels, metabolism, and inflammation when the body is undergoing stress. 

This means that when the body is stressed, cortisol is released, and it is used to control essential functions. Non-essential functions, such as sex, are pushed on the back burner, and the hormones that control sexual desire and functioning are not as prevalent. 

For men, the endorphins the body releases to block pain during stress also block the release of the hormone that is responsible for testosterone production and sperm formation. This can all lead to erectile dysfunction.

For women, stress can affect hormones in a way that interrupts their menstrual cycles. This can put a damper on your sex life, and it can cause additional stress and worry, which exacerbates the situation. It can also create an environment where egg fertilization and implantation are more difficult.

Stress also causes a psychological response that leaves you feeling frazzled, distracted, busy, and overwhelmed. It’s also very common to experience anxiety and depression when you’re stressed. 

A happy woman listening to music on her computer

None of these emotional states are very conducive to sexual interest or ability. Learn tips on controlling stress by following Live Conscious on Facebook @weliveconscious and Instagram @weliveconscious.

Indirect Stress Changes and Sex Drive

Another important thing to consider is how stress indirectly affects you in ways that could play a role in your libido.

Weight gain. Some people turn to food to relieve stress, and stress hormones affect metabolism. This can lead to weight gain and a lack of confidence when it comes to sex.

Medications. Certain medications used to treat stress can lead to a decreased sex drive.

Self-esteem issues. Being under stress can cause serious issues with self-esteem, which can lead to an uncomfortable feeling about intimacy.

Drinking to cope. Using alcohol and drugs to cope with stress can lead to physical performance issues and can cause a rift between you and your partner.

Worrying. Constantly worrying and being distracted keeps your brain out of the game, and a large part of sexual enjoyment is mental.

The Cyclical Sex Stress Problem

An article in Psychology Today details this cyclical connection in relation to men. They explain how a stressful day can be a distraction during sex and leave you unable to perform. 

The next time you go to have sex, you’re reminded of the last time, and you begin to worry about failing. The harder you try to succeed, the worse it becomes, and you’re suddenly conditioning your brain. Eventually, the stress of performance anxiety becomes ingrained, and the idea of having sex becomes stressful.

A happy couple having luncg after workout

For women, the emotional experience of sex is a strong aphrodisiac. If a woman experiences stress that affects a sexual experience, it can trigger negative conditioning in regard to sex. This leads to automatic physical reactions, which make sexual experiences uncomfortable and not enjoyable.

Breaking the Stress-Hold on Sex

Fixing this cycle or keeping stress out of the bedroom is more difficult than it sounds, but there are definitely some things you can do to help break the hold that stress has on your sex life.

Self-care is the best way to deal with stress on a general level. Make time for yourself and for doing things that are healthy. Eating correctly and exercising are two gigantic steps you can take that will help your body be better prepared to manage stress. 

ZenWell supplements are another healthy way to manage stress levels. Ashwagandha and L-Theanine are combined to promote cognitive function, reduce stress, provide adrenal support, and increase sleep quality, which will have a substantial effect on your well-being.

Exercise in itself can act as a stress reliever by forcing you to focus on something physical and getting out of your head for a while. If you can do a demanding workout, give it a try and see if it helps. If you’re not up to that, try yoga or even just going for a walk in nature. There’s a lot of science behind nature as a natural stress reliever.

Relaxation is another way to care for yourself regularly and relieve tension. Baths, massages, meditation, time alone, and being active in hobbies are great ways to relax. Choose your favorite relaxation method and enjoy it regularly.

Finally, concentrate on making good choices. When life gets stressful, it’s easy to slip into negative behavior like overindulging in food and alcohol. Try to avoid these activities, as they will only lead to more stress. 

A happy young couple

If you feel there is something more than stress at work involved, or if your stress levels are too challenging to manage with home remedies and self-care, it’s best to seek professional help. There may be an underlying cause of your sexual frustrations, or your stress levels might need a bit more attention.

Living Well

On National Stress Awareness Day, put your focus on your sex life, and try to break any stress-sex bond you may have. Sexual activity is a great way for you and your partner to relieve stress. Unfortunately, if you have a lot of stress in your life, it could be disrupting your sex life.

It’s easy to place blame or to accept it when your sex life hits a road bump, but no one should feel bad if stress is causing problems in the bedroom. Stress hormones that you have no control overplay a large role in your sex life.

If you feel stress is bringing you down, try some home remedies to manage your stress. If the problem persists, it’s best to seek professional help to manage your stress and get your sex life back on track.