How stress can impact your sex life (and how to fix it)

Erectile dysfunction
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Learn how stress can affect your relationship in the bedroom and what can be done about it.

Stress is something that most of us experience at some point and in varying forms. Whether it’s related to work, finances or life at home, it can have a hugely negative impact on our mindset. However, one consequence of stress in particular, and one that isn’t often talked about (sometimes not at all) is the effect it can have on one’s sex life.

Here we discuss why

Not only does stress reduce an individual’s desire to have sex, but it can also cause physical complications such as those associated with erectile dysfunction (ED).

Survival over procreation

Clinical psychologists such as Alicia Clark explain that when we suffer from the effects of stress, our bodies go into survival mode. In other words, our body will increase the functions we need to survive. For example, an increase in heart rate and blood flow, and thus, decrease non-essential functions such as sex.

This isn’t the only impact that stress can have on our sex lives. The body is known to create excess levels of cortisol when we become overly stressed. By developing too much of this hormone, it has the undesired effect of lowering libido levels, which can leave us disinterested in sex.

Stress and anxiety lead to further problems

Many men remain unaware that stress and anxiety can be major contributors to an inability to achieve or maintain an erection. These type of negative mental contributors hinder the brain’s ability to allow extra blood to flow to the penis. This links back to the previous point on survival that, when stressed, our brain is not concerned with non-essential body functions, and this can include sexual activity.

It is also important to note that ED not only affects the physical side of intimacy, but it can also have an impact on relationships.  For example, in a recent survey of 2,000 women throughout the UK, it was found that less than half of the participants felt comfortable discussing the issue with their partner.

The results raise eyebrows when one contrasted against the 82 per cent of the female participants said that the subject should not be viewed as taboo.

Dialogue is crucial

By failing to address the sexual problems that stress can lead to, this will ultimately result in longer-term issues that remain unsolved, which is why clinical health experts suggest talking through potential stress red flags with your partner. Seeking advice from a mental health counsellor or doctor to help handle the stress can work wonders.

Allocating time for self-care is just as important. Whether it’s engaging in regular exercise, signing up to a yoga class or even getting a massage, there are a number of techniques you can employ to reduce ongoing stress. By doing this, you stand the best chance possible of alleviating the affects that stress can have on your sex life.