Dealing with stress is tough. If you’re feeling under pressure and overwhelmed in some way — whether it’s to do with work, money or something else — it’s going to have a knock-on effect on the other aspects of your life, including your sex life.
That’s right — stress can have a big impact on your sex life. It may sound strange to think that work deadlines or financial worries can make a difference in the bedroom, but it’s true.
Read on to find out how stress can impact your sex (and some ways to get around these problems):
1. Low sex drive
One of the first things to go when you’re feeling stressed is your sex drive. In fact, you probably already know about this one already: high stress levels = low libido.
The reason behind this one harks back to our “fight or flight” response; basically, when you’re feeling stressed, your body goes through a number of changes to prepare you for the imminent danger. These changes — an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing — all serve to keep you alive but unfortunately kill off any ‘non-essential’ functions, like having a sex drive. It’s an evolutionary tactic; at this point, survival is the priority, rather than procreation.
An increase in the stress hormone cortisol, in particular, causes low libido by decreasing your sex hormones (which influence sexual desire). Simply put, you just aren’t interested in having sex when you’re stressed.
2. Erectile dysfunction
If your partner is struggling to achieve and maintain an erection, it could be because he’s feeling stressed.
For millions of men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a real problem. And it can often be down to stress and other psychological factors.
When a man is stressed or anxious, the messages that the brain sends to the penis to increase blood flow (which creates an erection) are interrupted. This means that even if your partner feels aroused, they may not be able to achieve or maintain an erection, which can lead to frustration and worry.
Unfortunately, one failure to get an erection can lead to a cycle of ED problems, creating even more anxiety, stress, and fear surrounding sexual performance.
However, there are lots of different ways to treat erectile dysfunction (aside from treating the underlying stress causing it). ED medication like Viagra and Viagra Connect (the over-the-counter version) are hugely effective and fast-acting — and generic viagra side effects are very unusual.
3. Enjoyment and orgasm problems
Feeling stressed doesn’t just impact your general desire for sex in the first place — it can also affect how sex feels in the moment.
If your brain is frazzled and you’ve got a million thoughts racing around your head because of stress, this is going to impact your experience of sex. After all, sex isn’t just a physical experience, but an intense, emotional one too. It’s much harder to be present in the moment and feel aroused when you’re distracted by stressful thoughts.
A busy brain can make it harder to lose yourself to the pleasure and sensations of sex — which means you’re less likely to orgasm and really enjoy sex.
Getting to the bottom of these enjoyment and orgasm problems can feel tricky, but there are ways to tackle them. For example, finding healthy ways to manage your stress levels will have a big impact on your sex life.
You could also try being intimate with your partner without skipping straight to penetration; try sensual massage, a romantic bubble bath, or just cuddle and play with each other. Focus on the sensation and pleasure of touch (which in itself is a stress-reliever). Being intimate together without any pressure for sex can be very arousing, and increase your desire for closeness — and ultimately, sex.
4. Vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness can be another impact of stress on your sex life.
As we’ve mentioned before, psychological factors like stress and anxiety can easily interfere with sexual desire. And one of the body’s physical responses to this drop in libido is vaginal dryness — when the normal lubrication of the vagina during arousal doesn’t occur.
Vaginal dryness can make sex difficult, uncomfortable or even painful. This in itself can be very stressful and frustrating.
Luckily, there are ways that you can prevent and treat dryness. Vaginal lubricants (lube) are very easy to buy from pharmacies or stores, and can make sex more comfortable and enjoyable again. There are various types you can get — such as water-based, oil-based or silicone-based — which can enhance arousal and boost sexual pleasure.
Stress can impact your sex life in all sorts of ways. Luckily, there are methods and products that you can treat the sexual problems related to stress and anxiety.
The main thing, however, is to get to the underlying cause of these issues: the stress itself. Finding healthy ways to reduce and manage your stress will have a knock-on effect on many other parts of your life, including what goes on under the sheets