Are you stressed about sex and don’t even know it? Most couples aren’t even aware that their sex lives are suffering due to stress.
The effects of stress are many. Akanksha Pandey, a clinical psychologist at Fortis Hospital in Bangalore says, “Chronic stress, resulting in frequent exhaustion, can result in poor immune system, digestive problems, cardiovascular problems, risk for stroke, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, increased substance use, relationship problems and sexual problems. All of these can decrease your sexual drive or may even result in loss of sex drive.”
How stress affects sex and vice versa
For one, if you’re already under a lot of physical or mental pressure, it can make getting into the mood difficult for you.
“Stress can attack sex life on many levels. Chronic stress can cause the body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol, which can lower the libido. This can also create havoc in the menstrual cycle. Stress even makes it harder to orgasm and can prevent a person from climaxing at all. When a person experiences changes in their body, or doesn’t feel good about their body, they might be less likely to want to engage in sexual activity,” Dr Roma Kumar, clinical psychologist from Max Hospital, Gurgaon says.
“Sexual problems can be one of the greatest sources of stress a couple experiences. Becoming impotent or frigid can lead to depression or severe anxiety and cause illnesses that develop into more serious problems. Many good marriages have broken up because couples didn’t realise the extent to which stress can affect sex,” she adds.
What’s more, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and frigidity are not biological conditions, but stress responses that trigger a classic mind-body phenomenon.
“All three are typically the end result of stress, anxiety, tension, fear, depression, or a combination of these. Although an imbalance between sex and stress hormones can play a role in causing such problems, the major factor is negative conditioning created by stress itself,” Dr Kumar says.
Don’t ignore it
“Simply recognising stress as a contributing factor or the cause of sexual problems is enough to bring about recovery,” Kumar says, adding, “Ignoring the problem and not taking steps to eliminate it can lead to anger, emotional disorders, depression, physical illness and permanent loss of intimacy.”
“Stress is the body’s natural defense when it faces any danger or threat. It is a biological or psychological response to a situation or threat for which one does not have adequate resources to deal with,” Dr Pandey says.