Stress And Sex: Ways To Rekindle The Spark

Work pressure or work-related stress can make it difficult to find joy in things you once enjoyed, including sex. Stress and sex drive are interrelated, but you can reverse the effects. Read on to understand why stress impacts sex drive and how to manage stress and sex life better.

By URLife Team
30 Dec 2022

Do you notice how when you are tired after work every day for extended periods of time, you prefer staying in more? Because of the stress of work, sometimes we may not feel interested in things we enjoyed earlier, like going out to movies, engaging in social circles, or spending time on hobbies.

Similarly, stress and sex drive also have an impact on each other. High stress levels can affect your libido and poor sex drive, in turn, adds to increased stress. It’s like a vicious cycle that can be broken down only when you know the signs of chronic stress and how to tackle it.

How are sex and stress related? How can you cope with this problem and improve the overall quality of your life? We have answered these questions in detail here.


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How Does Stress Impact Sex Drive?

Stress and sex are related. Here’s how: When we are stressed, our ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in. This is a way for the brain to protect us. Our sympathetic nervous system activates, and in response, the heart rate and breathing fasten so we can fight the threat. At this time, bodily functions that aren’t required (like digestion or sexual hormone release) are inhibited so the body can outrun the threat.


Related story: Just Ten Minutes of Massage or Rest Will Reduce Body Stress, Study Finds


And as a result of continued stress, our HPA axis (stress response) gets activated, which increases cortisol, the main stress hormone. This is the reason stress and sex drive have so much impact on each other. A chronically stressed person may not only miss out on the sex benefits but may also experience these effects:

1. Biological Effects

Stress increases the production of cortisol and epinephrine (stress hormones) in our bodies. Now, the demand for higher production of these hormones is met by sex hormones. This is the reason people under extreme stress find it difficult to develop an interest in any sexual activities.

Moreover, high levels of stress cause premature immune ageing, raise sugar levels, and increase blood pressure. Testosterone levels in men may also decrease, causing a low sex drive or temporary erectile dysfunction.


2. Psychological Effects

The benefits of sex include the release of hormones like:

  • Dopamine, the hormone linked with reward and motivation
  • Serotonin, the hormone that promotes happiness
  • And oxytocin, the love or bonding hormone.

But with stress, our sex drives may also be affected, which reduces the production levels of these hormones. Therefore, chronically stressed people may often experience sadness, anxiety, and depression.


Related story: 6 Steps To Take For Better Sexual Health


3. Lifestyle Choices

Extreme stress often paves the way for unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, or use of drugs. Moreover, it is far easier to fall into poor lifestyle choices like overeating, lack of self-care, lack of body movement, etc. All of this can create a negative perception of yourself and interfere even with a healthy sex life.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


How To Cope With The Problem Of Stress And Sex Drive?

Extreme stress is a common challenge in the corporate world. But it is possible to minimise it; you just need to put in a little time and effort to work on yourself. We have some easy and super helpful tips that you can follow to reduce stress and start enjoying life to the fullest again.


1. Practise Effective Stress Management

If stress is interfering with your sex life, you can use these effective stress management activities to reverse the response:


Related story: Meditation And Living With Grace: My Journey On The Path Of Vipassana


2. Improve Your Mental Health

Good mental health is not the absence of problems; it is all about being calm and composed in moments of happiness, sadness, stress, anxiety, or whatever life throws your way. And to be able to fight stress, you must be mentally strong and stable.

So, try to stay in the moment and remind yourself that stress is just a part of life. Begin with picking things back up that make you feel motivated. Incorporate positive self-talk in your life and take a break from work if possible. All this will help you combat the stressful factors in life with ease.


Related story: Easy Mindfulness Habits to Improve Your Mental Health


3. Practice Self-Care

If you don’t feel so great about yourself, you might probably not be able to feel good about sex. By practicing self-care, you can start noticing many positive mood changes.

Here’s what self-care may look like:

  • Preparing and following healthy meal plans
  • Exercising at least three times a week to feel energetic
  • Getting 6-8 hours of sleep every day
  • Practicing meditation and journaling
  • Pampering yourself with things you like
  • Spending time alone to calmly figure out how to deal with stressful situations


Related story: Chocolate, Sex And Exercise: The Happiness Cocktail You Must Have This Festive Season


4. Make Time For Your Partner

If you get very little downtime, sex may be the last thing on your mind. With long to-do lists, the pressure of deadlines, and the thought of a boss bickering, everything can make it difficult to get in the mood. And before you even realise it, sex starts feeling like a chore, leaving you disinterested.

To make sure this doesn’t affect your relationship, ditch schedules and get creative. You can start with flirting and then add some romantic music to the setting to elevate the mood. You can also try some role-playing activities to spark passion in your relationship again. Stress and sexuality do not always have to be related if you are dedicated to having a fulfilling relationship.


5. Focus On Sensation

Physical touch can relieve stress to a great extent. Therefore, you do not always have to indulge in sex to bring back intimacy. You can try hand-holding, cuddling, and massaging each other to show affection. Even pleasant experiences like this can help release the powerful stress-busting hormone oxytocin.

Rather than focusing on sex, focus on touch and find pleasure points that tend to relax you. Effective communication with your partner for better sex life is also critically important so they know that you share their desire for closeness.


Related story: Why Men Who Are In Touch With Their Emotional Side Get More Dates


How To Discuss The Problem Of Reduced Sex Drive With Your Partner?

If you’re consistently uninterested in sex, it may create disharmony in your love life. Effectively communicating your problems and needs will help you work as a team. Here are a few things you can do for a healthy conversation when communicating the problem of stress and sex drive to your partner:

  • Don’t bring up the topic right after sex
  • Choose a time of discussion when none of you is in a rush or distracted
  • Do not get defensive when explaining
  • Be honest and open about what you’re feeling
  • Let your partner share their response or feelings
  • Know when to stop talking


Related story: 7 Ways to Resolve Conflicts in Your Relationship


When to seek help?

Poor sex life can be a matter of concern for both you and your partner. And if you have already talked about it but cannot resolve the problem, it may be time to seek professional help. Here’s how therapy can make a tremendous difference:


Individual Therapy

Individual cognitive therapy will allow you to have one-on-one conversations with a certified therapist about your problems of stress and sex drive. It may allow you to understand your triggers and manage them more efficiently.


Couples Therapy

Marriage counselling or couples therapy enables clear communication with your partner in the presence of a certified facilitator or therapist. This can certainly improve your relationship and help you see things from each other’s perspectives.


Sex Therapy

Sex therapy is talk therapy that is focused on sexual problems. You can get both individual and joint partner sessions where you can express your sexual needs and problems more clearly.


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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Is it important to have sex?

A: Studies have shown that sex can have positive mood changes like increased motivation and happiness levels. Benefits of sex also include lower blood pressure, lower sugar levels, and improved immunity.


Q: Why does sex feel good?

A: Sexual pleasure releases hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which increase happiness. Sex also releases oxytocin, which makes you feel safe and happy.


Q:Is it healthy to have sex every day?

A: Yes. Sex elevates mood and improves overall health, skin, and hair. It also strengthens the relationship between you and your partner.


Q: Does sex relieve stress and anxiety?

A: Sex or physical touch can make you feel relaxed and also take your mind off stress. This is because of the motivation and feel-good hormones that are released on sexual arousal or pleasure.


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