When was the last time you were intimate with your partner? If you find yourself having to stop and think about it before you can remember, it’s highly likely that the stress you are suffering from is to blame. Stress affects everyone at some point or another. We all have busy lives these days. But when the stress is sustained and continuous, it can affect you both physically and mentally. Here are five ways the stress can ruin your sex life.
Having a pre-occupied mind
Sex isn’t just a physical act. Although to some extent arousal in both sexes is an involuntary physiological reaction by the body to stimuli, the brain also plays a big part in how aroused you become.
If your brain is pre-occupied with handling all the stressful thoughts you are having, it will not be able to focus on what is happening with your partner as well as it should. Your busy and troubled mind will not allow you to recognise the physical pleasure and you will more than likely have trouble reaching an orgasm.
Your Libido Has Shut Down
A busy mind is only part of the problem. When stress kicks in the body goes into survival mode and puts certain bodily functions on hold so it can cope with the perceived danger. The urge to procreate will be diminished so your physical strength and ability to run away can be heightened. In other words, you temporarily lose your libido so you can protect yourself.
For women, there are other bodily functions affected when stress takes hold. The menstrual cycle can become disrupted and out of kilter thanks to the increase in the hormone cortisol. Women who experience menstrual problems are less likely to feel a desire for intimacy.
Talking of cortisol, it is also responsible for disrupting your metabolism if there is too much of it coursing through your body. The body's digestive system is one of those functions put on hold at times of stress, which could lead to weight gain if your body is not processing the food you eat efficiently. Men and women both are less likely to want to engage in sexual activity if they do not feel good about themselves due to carrying excess weight.
Too Much Alcohol
If stress is causing you to turn to alcohol for comfort, you are throwing your sex life a double whammy. Alcohol is a depressant, and is widely recognised as being responsible for the dreaded “brewers droop”, or erectile dysfunction to use the correct term. Women don't escape the effects of alcohol in the bedroom department either. Lack of vaginal lubrication can be a result of drinking too much, which can make intercourse uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Considering that intimacy with your partner is actually a proven way to relieve stress, you are facing a catch-22 situation. That’s why it’s vital to take action to reduce stress in other ways, such as taking regular exercise and sticking to a healthy diet.
There’s little point in trying to force sex to happen if one partner is fighting the effects of stress. But you shouldn’t give up being intimate in other ways. Try giving each other a massage to relax you both and promote the release of stress-busting oxytocin and endorphins. Even just cuddling has its stress-busting and other health benefits. Whatever you do, it’s important to make time to care for yourself and your partner.