How can stress affect your sex drive?

You may have sometimes felt worried or nervous and noticed that your desire to have sex plummets. We look at whether stress affects your sex drive and what you can do about it.



Libido, also called your sex drive, is your psychological and physiological desire to want to have sex. This can be affected by many factors, from your hormones to what you eat.


What is stress and how can it affect your sex drive?

Being stressed is usually defined as being in a state of worry and anxiety about something or a situation. This reaction to pressure can either be acute, and only last a short period of time, or chronic, lasting over a much longer period of time, and it is the latter which is most detrimental to our sex drive and harder to overcome. When we're stressed, our body releases the adrenaline hormone, cortisol, which raises our heart rate and causes the hormones which make us want to have sex to decrease.

Our monthly cycles, for both men and women, mean that our hormones fluctuate naturally, yet when cortisol is experienced in high levels, such as when we're stressed, it causes a severe drop in libido which is hard to overcome.

What are the other effects of stress on sex?

As well as affecting our libido, chronic stress can make people more susceptible to high blood pressure and diabetes, which both can lead to erectile dysfunction and low libido. Stress and sex tend to form a cycle with each other, where not having sex can lead to performance anxiety, which leads to more stress and less sex as a result. But you shouldn't worry! There are many ways to control your stress and relax when you want to have sex.

How to relax before sex?

Take some time for yourself before engaging in sex with a partner. You could meditate, or even try tantric sex together, which incorporates breathing exercises and is about the journey in sex, rather than the end point.

Communicate with your partner. Talk about how you're feeling and how you can both work together to alleviate any pressure around performance.

Start slowly. Remove any preconceptions you have about the sexual activity first and attempt to see it as less of a performance and more of an opportunity to connect with your partner. You could incorporate massage or foreplay into your routine, so that sex becomes more than just one act.

Add lube and toys to your sex routine. Incorporating new and fun elements to explore with your partner takes the immediate pressure of both of you. Lube helps restart the process of arousal by changing the sensation of touching yourself or being touched by a partner. Trying an Adaptogenic Lubricant can also help elevate your sexual experience and relieve some pressure.

If in doubt, talk to an expert, therapist or GP. Your own health should always be a priority and seeking the best quality advice is of the upmost importance.

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