3 ways stress is affecting your sex drive

Do you live a stressful life? Have you ever wondered how it might affect your sex drive?
When you are stressed for longer periods of time, chances are your sex life will begin to fall apart.
From worrying about your financial situation to deadlines at work, everyday stress can lead to a loss of sexual appetite. How stress and libido are linked? When we react to stress our bodies experience a series of changes in order to prepare us to run away or stay and fight. This natural body response is our fight or flight response. When your body enters in a “fight or flight’’ state, you will experience an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing while non-essential functions like sex drive are hardly reduced.
Moreover, this response is also linked to the release of hormones, such as epinephrine and cortisol, which in greater levels can dramatically decrease your sex appetite. Here are three ways stress ruins your relationship and your sex drive:

1.) The two nervous systems

As you know, we have two nervous systems. One is the sympathetic nervous system, known as the accelerator and the other the parasympathetic nervous or the brake. When we experience all sorts of difficulties and challenges throughout our lives, we use the accelerator.

But whenever challenges occur, our stress response is released in our bodies. Its physical outcomes often lead to an increase in heart rate, sweaty palms, and you start to experience intense inner distress. All these effects are just your natural body response providing you with a shot of energy to either fight or flight. Soon after you have dealt with your stress trigger, and any sort of danger has passed, the sympathetic nervous system gets cooled down by the brake or the parasympathetic system.

However, as simple as this might sound when we experience intense stress over a long period of time, it might seem like our accelerator cannot function properly anymore. We exhaust our bodies by working all the time that we do not actually allow those much-needed brakes to happen.

Here is where sexual appetite and break go hand in hand. Biologically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to enjoy your partner’s erotic touch when your stress levels are booming. It goes without saying that stress and sex do not mix that great.   

2.) Your hormones change

When you’ve been leaving under constant stress for more than intended, your body begins to produce more cortisol which is also known as the stress hormone. For most people with long-lasting stress symptoms, their testosterone production is decreased. Stress can also lead to erectile dysfunction as it can interrupt how the brain sends messages to the penis to allow additional blood flow.

According to psychiatrist and clinical sexologist Haakon Aaars, stress affects testosterone which is the hormone with the highest significance to sex drive both in men and women.

3.) Absence replace closeness

Stress not only leads to a hormonal change, but also to a social, psychological and relational one. Whenever the stress hormone hits you, the absence slowly begins to replace the closeness. It gets difficult to listen, to be present and be interested in those around you when you are stressed out.

The “flight or fight” response can encourage you to be more aggressive toward your partner. How many times did you snap immediately after a challenging situation? This sort of situation doesn’t help too much when you are seeking closeness with your loved one and believe it or not, the intimacy slowly starts to fall apart.

What can you do? Decide to put things on a table, discuss stress, try to handle stressful situations as a team and accept that your sex drive can’t always be the same.

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