3rd of November – Stress Awareness Day
“Stress isn’t good for you” – there’s no doubt that you’ve heard this numerous times, and probably even experienced it first-hand in bed. While get warmed up with your significant other in bed, you start getting workday flashes through your head, hearing your boss listing off all the things you need to get done – all you can think about is how you’re going to get everything completed in time, even when sex is practically right in front of you. Your biggest sex organ is your brain – having an occupied mind and being distracted from sex only makes it that much harder to focus on your arousal, pleasure, and orgasm. The stressed partner is not the only one who suffers. If you’re stressed for a lengthy period of time, there’s a high chance that your sex life will begin to take its toll, which will definitely pile up onto your list of things to stress about.
Stress does not just affect us mentally, but also physically and relationally, by wrecking-havoc on our body, immune system and our overall health. Stress’ attack on your sex-drive is innate. When you are stressed, your body’s instinct is to survive, not procreate; it increases your body’s major functions for survival also known as the sympathetic nervous system, for instance, accelerating blood flow and increasing heart rate, at the same time, reducing redundant functions, such as sex. Besides that, chronic stress can cause the over-production of the hormone cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’ in your body which also contributes to lower sex-drive as testosterone production is reduced. It makes orgasming a difficult task and worse, prevent you from climaxing at all. That’s not all, stress can affect your sex life in an indirect manner too! Stress affects the body’s metabolism, causing weight fluctuations. The changes in your body might cause one to feel less confident, which in turn resulting in the reluctance to have sex. In most cases, this equals a considerably lowered lust for intimacy and sexual contact. Being frazzled may lead to temporary pelvic floor muscle tension which can hamper natural lubrication in the vagina, causing uncomfortable penetration.
Despite it all, don’t throw in the towel yet, there are many solutions to treat this issue! First and foremost, pay no attention to the myths people might tell you about stress and sex, such as “your sex drive won’t come back once it disappears” and “if your partner doesn’t desire you when they’re stressed, it’s because they don’t love you anymore”. Do not let these myths convince yourself that the damage is done because it is far from done. Instead of admitting defeat, you need to tackle the issue head-on by addressing the underlying problem.
Communication is key in and outside the bedroom. Be open and honest to your partner about the stress you have been experiencing. You do not have to feel ashamed for talking about it because stress is inevitable – almost everyone experience it. Besides that, you may also seek proper guidance and familiarize yourself with how stress affects your libido which will make it easier for you as well as your partner to navigate through these issues together as a team. It’s important that you try to prioritise some alone time with your partner in a day as intimacy can actually help reduce stress. Cuddles, kisses, hugs, quality time and loving touch can help by allowing the body to go from stress to relaxation mode. Acceptance is also part of the process. It’s totally normal for sex drive to fluctuate throughout life. If you can accept this as normal human biology, you can still have a fulfilling sex life during this challenging phase too! You will and you can get back into the swing of things, even though it may take some time, you’ll get there! Taking control of your life and working towards making healthy changes to reduce your stress level will boost your sex life and also positively impact your mental health as a whole.