Most people know that stress is a common roadblock to leading a balanced life with a healthy mind and body. Too much of it can cause a flood of hormones and adrenaline as your body naturally goes into a fight or flight response, making your heart rate spike, your brain focus, and your muscles tense.
This response doesn’t just make you on edge, however. It can also cause serious, long-term health complications, even in your sex life.
Wondering how exactly stress has the ability to affect your sexual health?
Here’s the answer.
Stress can interrupt natural messages between the brain and other parts of the body, including the genitalia. This often results in a lack of the blood flow required for erections or vaginal wetness.
Additionally, stress can negatively affect appetite hormones, causing sufferers to eat more than normal and ultimately gain weight. This weight fluctuation, and the self-image issues that often accompany it, can cause a lack of confidence. This, when combined with consistently interrupted neural messages, can lead to sexual dysfunction.
In men, this most commonly manifests as erectile dysfunction: the inability to get or maintain an erection during sexual situations. This often causes feelings of sexual frustration for both men and their partners. If you or your partner experience ED, consider speaking with a doctor for help. They can prescribe medications like sildenafil, the generic version of Viagra that helps improve blood flow to the penis and allows for longer erections.
For women, stress often causes vaginal dryness and can make intimacy uncomfortable or even painful. If you or your partner experience this during particularly stressful time periods, consider one of the many over-the-counter personal lubricants that can help make the moment more comfortable.
Lack of Interest
Chronic stress causes heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can throw off natural reactions in the body, including libido. Plus, cortisol can cause irritability and impatience, so sufferers are often too busy arguing with partners to enjoy a sexy moment.
It’s also important to remember that the brain is a sex organ, so a preoccupied mind can often make it much harder to get in the mood or experience full pleasure at all. In the extreme, a stressed-out brain is more susceptible to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression which can inhibit your interest in sex even more.
Additionally, if the body is busy overproducing cortisol, it won’t be able to produce normal levels of sex hormones like testosterone, which helps both men and women get in the mood.
If you’re experiencing abnormally low libido that has begun to interrupt your romantic life, it’s important to get help. Often, sex counseling or therapy can help determine the root of the issue and provide you with solutions. Alternatively, you can speak with your doctor about possible treatments to increase sexual interest, such as the medication flibanserin or hormonal therapy.
Climaxes typically occur in a body that is open to sexual contact, responding to stimuli, and relaxed. However, the common symptoms of stress, like clenched muscles and physical discomfort, can make it much more difficult for you to be able to let go enough to orgasm.
And, similar to its effect on libido, too much stress or anxiety’s ability to distract the mind can make it much more difficult to orgasm, and can sometimes even prevent you from climaxing at all. This can strike both men and women who are unusually stressed out.
Many people who have difficulty orgasming benefit from introducing some variety to their sex lives. Using playful dirty talk, trying longer foreplay, or incorporating sex toys into your experience can all help distract you from whatever stressful thoughts are on your mind and allow you to put yourself more fully in the moment in order to orgasm.
How to Reduce Stress
Starting with proper rest– at least 7 hours a night– there are many ways to cut stress levels throughout your day. Journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, or other forms of self-care activities can help lower your heart rate and clear your mind of any unnecessary stress. It’s mostly just important that you find an activity that’s enjoyable for you in order to fully unwind.
As you can see, it’s critical to your sexual, physical, and mental health to lead a low-stress lifestyle. Use this information and some of these tips to manage your stress and enjoy a more pleasurable intimate life.
Suggested Further Reading
- For more information about the negative impacts of stress and stress management, read these articles from the American Psychological Association.
- To learn more about both men and women’s sexual wellness, check out the informative posts on the Hims Facebook and Hers Facebook pages.
- To read about other health issues, check out the articles in our Health section.
- Sponsored by Queen V Lubricant.