18 Apr

DOES STRESS AFFECT YOUR SEX LIFE?

I can tell you that when I have a whole load of writing to do for different topics, I can get quite stressed out and find that my thermometer of ‘patience’ begins to hit the red mark…then, I move back and disengage my mind and start all over again.

Most people, with the juggling required to manage work, marriage, children and relatives, are not that pleasant to be around. And when it comes to sex, stress makes your sex life suffer. In fact, stress is one of those weird issues that can not only affect your sex life, but also be alleviated by having sex. So if you want to get rid of stress, why don’t you just go havesex? …..Hmmm….Not that easy a solution!

The effects of stress are insidious. It takes a toll on your physical, emotional and relationship health, probably more than you realize. And this causes a lot of problems in relationships. Here are five ways stress can impact your sex life:

  1. Stress contributes to a negative body image. Bad body image = bad sex. 
    The hormones produced in association with stress can impact your metabolism. If youfeel sluggish or if you gain weight (unintentionally), it can make you feel badly about your physique. If you don’t like your body, it is pretty difficult to find the desire to shed your clothes and jump into bed with your partner. Lower self-image equals less sex and less sex creates relationship problems. Ideally, our relationship should enhance who we are, not make us feel more stressed. And one of the biggest stressors we can have is our relationship, if we don’t take the time to nurture it.
  1. Stress takes a toll on your libido.
    By now, we know that hormones affect our bodies in numerous ways from childhood to adolescence, pregnancy, menopause and beyond. Cortisol is one of the hormones produced by stress, and you might have heard of it if you’ve ever seen those late night diet pill commercials with the image of the pixelated woman gaining weight in her abdomen. Our bodies need this hormone, but in small doses for short bursts of time. If elevated levels of Cortisol are being produced for a prolonged period of time, they suppress our sex hormones. Lower quantity of sex hormones equals lower libido.
  1. Stress makes you question your relationships and your partners. 
    As I mentioned earlier, when some people get stressed, they are not very pleasant to be around, and vice versa. You don’t want a partner who flies off the handle and snaps at you because he or she is overwhelmed. And you don’t want to be the one who incites those feelings of frustration in someone that you love. Who wants to go to bed with an emotional monster? Relationships suffer when we are stressed, especially if we stop communicating. Or if our communication consists of rolling our eyes and grunting at a loved one. Body and facial language are very clear
  1. Stress can lead to excessive drinking. Excessive drinking makes for bad sex.Lots of people use alcohol to escape. Some people enjoy a little ‘happy hour’ drink. But this isn’t about a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or a drink with one of those multi-coloured umbrellas in them. This is about excessive, prolonged drinking. More than one or two drinks a day. (And we can even debate whether that is too much.) This is the type of drinking that you probably hide from friends. It may be the type of drinking that begins long before happy hour does and goes on far later. Or it may just be one drink beyond that early, feel-good buzz.

We know that men have difficulty getting an erection when they drink too much. But what about women? As it turns out, alcohol can dull sex, making it less pleasurable. Alcohol dehydrates women, making lubrication challenging. Without lubrication, sex is painful. Without lubrication and sufficient arousal, you can kiss the idea of orgasm (or pleasure in general) goodbye. After a number of pleasure-less or mildly painful sexual experiences, you are not going to want it. Would you?  This issue of dyhydration through alcohol is at the core of complaints about painful sex.

  1. Stress impacts women’s fertility and menstrual cycle. When you are stressed, your hormones levels take a dive.

I mentioned stress as a factor in why our libidos suffer when we’re stressed. But who would have thought that fertility would be challenged,  too? (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, if you’re not having sex, you’re probably not getting pregnant. You’re right, but there’s more to this.)

Stress can impact our pituitary gland, which controls the thyroid, adrenal glands and ovaries. If your ovaries aren’t functioning properly, your menstrual cycle is adversely affected. Your periods may become irregular or you may stop menstruating. (This is called ‘amenorrhea’ and if stress-related, luckily, not a permanent condition.)

If you are trying to get pregnant, you need to decrease your stress. Which (as I know) can be difficult, because there are few things more stressful than trying to become pregnant and not being able to do so.

So, are you ready to make some changes?  Good…when you love yourself, that which you desire will happen!
Exercise, relax, take a bath, drink ONE glass of wine (not four), and delegate some responsibilities to others. – pamper yourself.  It will make you a lot less stressful… and hopefully, a lot more enjoyable.

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