How Stress May Be Sabotaging Your Sex Life

Have you always considered yourself someone with a healthy sex life, but lately, your libido is nowhere to be found? You're not the only one. According to Sutter Health, one in three women is affected by a low sex drive. It can happen virtually out of the blue. A low libido can be attributed to a number of factors, but oftentimes, stress is the culprit. There's no such thing as a correct or incorrect level of sex drive, but sometimes, a low libido can put a major strain on your relationship.


Perhaps, you and your partner were getting it on several days a week, but now, you can barely muster up the energy to get through foreplay. There are ways to get things back on track in the bedroom, but before we get into the solution, let's take a look at what is causing the problem. Here is how stress may be sabotaging your sex life.

It triggers your fight-or-flight response

When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol, the hormone responsible for the symptoms we experience during stressful or dangerous situations, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, and muscle tension. It can also cause your digestive system to shut down, making you feel nauseous, get sick, and even have diarrhea, Endocrine Web states.


Cortisol is essential in moments of fight-or-flight, but it's not something you want surging through you on a daily basis. Chronically high levels of the hormone mess with your day-to-day functions, and they can totally kill your sex life.

If you aren't thinking straight and can barely accomplish easy, everyday tasks, the last thing you want to do is get wild in the bedroom (especially if you're at risk of throwing up or getting diarrhea at any moment). If you're feeling more stressed than normal, it's a sign your cortisol levels might be on the up and up. Unfortunately, that also means your libido could be on its way out.

It can affect your self-image

High levels of cortisol can cause a person to overeat, particularly sugary and fatty foods, says Medical News Today. This could be the reason you're seeing a bigger number on the scale. It's totally normal, but for many people, it can be frustrating.


When you have a poor self-image, your libido is one of the first things to go. Many of us have been in this scenario at one time or another — you just had a big meal and are super bloated, but your partner is feeling a little frisky. They go to make a move, but you immediately turn them down.

Why wouldn't you? If you're feeling uncomfortable or unhappy with your body, you're probably not super eager to rip all your clothes off and fool around. Of course, this is bound to happen every now and then, but if your self-esteem is on a decline, it's bound to sabotage your sex life.

It takes a toll on your mental health

It should come as no surprise that stress negatively affects your mental health. When your mental health is in bad shape, a decreased libido isn't far behind. According to the Canadian Red Cross, stress can create feelings of irritability and aggression, cases of insomnia, and bouts of extreme sadness, which often leads to a lowered sex drive. This is partly because depression can prevent women from reaching climax (otherwise known as anorgasmia), as our bodies are mentally and physically exhausted, the Cleveland Clinic explains.


Because of the toll that stress takes on our bodies, many women can't even get to a place where they might have an orgasm. For many people, sex just isn't on the table when you're feeling hopeless or distraught.

If you're having these feelings on a consistent basis, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options. Your mental health and your sex life will thank you.

Your mind goes elsewhere during sex

Have you been in the middle of sex and realized your mind is completely somewhere else? Perhaps, you have an upcoming work presentation you aren't prepared for, or maybe you had an argument with your best friend.


When you're focused on something else, you aren't fully present, and that can seriously sabotage the moment. Psychology Today says one of the biggest issues of distraction during intimacy is lack of performance. You can't bring your A-game if you're thinking about increased gas prices.

A wandering mind just ruins the entire experience. You aren't fully enjoying it, which means your partner isn't fully enjoying it either. It's pretty easy to detect when someone is distracted, especially during sex. There's nothing less sexy than being with someone who's wondering if they shut the stove off the entire time. If you're feeling overwhelmed, do you and your partner a favor, and bump uglies when you have a clearer mind.


How to get your libido back up and running

If you're facing a lull in your sex life, just know that there are ways to get your groove back. For starters, it's important you recognize your body's signs of stress so you can manage it before things get out of hand. It is easier said than done, but it is doable.


Mayo Clinic suggests meditation, being active, laughing, journaling, socializing, eating healthy, and practicing hobbies as ways of destressing. Getting enough sleep is also important. They may not relieve your stress, but practicing these good habits on a daily basis will help you keep a calm, balanced state of mind. If stress is still interfering with your life and sex life, then you may benefit from counseling or therapy.

In the event that things are about to go down right then and there, but you're still feeling super stressed, Talkspace recommends asking your partner for a sensual massage. Not only will it help you destress, but it's also an excellent lead into foreplay. So, dim the lights, bust out the flavored massage oil, and you'll forget gas prices even exist.