A person can experience stress when the demands expected from them and their resources do not match. With heavy responsibilities you might have at school, work, and/or at home, stress can be inevitable. Stress can come in two different ways; acute and chronic stress. Acute stress is relatively a shorter process and it does not cause as much harm as chronic stress. On the other hand, chronic stress can be experienced when there is a constant stressor and the person is not available to solve the problem nor escape from it.
Chronic stress can cause changes in our emotions, behaviors, and physical well-being. It is not surprising that stress, which affects so many areas of our lives, can also affect our sex life.
If you are feeling stressed you might lose your attention during sex as your mind would be occupied with your responsibilities and the source of stress in general. By being distracted, it can make you enjoy sex less and you may not be aroused enough. Stress can also cause decreased sex drive (libido) so you may find yourself being less interested in sex than you used to be. The decreased levels of libido can be a result of the increased release of cortisol and epinephrine caused by stress. Men can also suffer from erectile dysfunction and low levels of testosterone caused by stress and some lifestyle choices mentioned below.
If you are unable to cope with high levels of stress effectively, you might find yourself making unhealthy lifestyle choices to ease the feeling of stress such as smoking, drinking alcohol, a poor diet, etc. These unhealthy habits would harm your physical health and eventually, all of these factors would contribute to your problems in your sex life.
In the long run, chronic stress can cause depression and anxiety. These psychological conditions are also known to have a negative effect on one’s sexual life. Thus, the problems in your sexual life can be triggered by these kinds of secondary causes.
How to cope with stress?
1.You may have heard numerous times that exercising, doing yoga, and meditation are good for stress. This is probably because these are some of the most effective ways to decrease high levels of stress. Seeking out help from friends and family is always a good idea to get through difficult times.
2. It is possible for your partner to feel rejected and confused when you do not want to have sex with them because of low libido and/or a different issue. Opening up to your partner about the problems you are going through would be helpful for your relationship too since it would make things clearer for them and they can understand you more thoroughly.
3. Even though you can be stressed because of your busy schedule, try to create time for yourself and your partner. Make an effort to take some time for yourself to relax and do activities you enjoy.
4. If you feel like your stress levels are not decreasing despite your efforts and it is affecting your sex life, seeing a professional would bring positive outcomes to your life.
If you’re finding it difficult to manage your stress and feel that a professional can help, book an appointment here.
Başak Turan is an intern at Willingness. She is a psychology graduate and currently a Clinical Psychology master’s student at the University of Bergamo, Italy.
Loprinzi, P. D., & Frith, E. (2019). Protective and therapeutic effects of exercise on stress-induced memory impairment. The journal of physiological sciences : JPS, 69(1), 1–12.
Scott, E. (2020). How Stress Can Cause a Low Libido. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-lead-to-low-libido-3145029