21/03/2017 01:56 GMT | Updated 21/03/2017 01:56 GMT

How Stress Can Lower Your Sex Drive

For a woman to desire sex, certain interlinked variables of her overall well-being need to be optimised such as physical, emotional and relational aspects.

Getty Images/ iStockphoto

Women are wonderfully layered – we are deliciously variable in our ability to enjoy sex. We can receive pleasure with or without an orgasm (although it's important our partner knows the difference – which is something you can explore together), we can enjoy touch, kissing, prolonged moments. Women can have single or multiple orgasms. We are the rulers of the depths that sex is capable of achieving when we are physically, mentally and spiritually in tune with our partner. Our layers also play a significant role in our sex drive as well, which is why it's important to pay attention to your whole body if you want to desire sex.

Desire And Stress

For a woman to desire sex, certain interlinked variables of her overall well-being need to be optimised. These include physical, emotional and relational aspects. If this is not the case, the result could be listlessness and a decreased sex drive.

One of the common causes of a decreased sex drive in the modern woman is stress – work, parenting, home life, maintaining healthy relationships, and still trying to get enough sleep. It can be deeply challenging to maintain all of these aspects of everyday life and still feel a desire to have sex at the end of the day. Why is that?

Fight, Flight And Sex

All human beings undergo some form of stress at one point or another in their lives. In certain settings, when we are in danger, stress actually is an important and necessary response to the said situation. In such acute situations, the 'fight or flight' response is appropriate.

However, in the modern era, people tend to experience more psychological rather than physical threats. Stress then becomes a chronic phenomenon. It is this chronicity that causes imbalances in our bodies, wreaking havoc with our health.

Irrespective of the triggering stressor, be it work-related, financial, relational etc. Stress tends to assume a ubiquitous nature, whereby it spills into all areas of our lives, including our sex lives. The symptoms of stress include fatigue and low energy, irritability and sleep disturbances. The effects of stress include muscle tension causing body aches such as backache. It can even lead to diseases such as heart disease, anxiety and depression.

Negative coping mechanisms and complications of stress can exacerbate the problem:

  • Emotional eating, which uncommonly is of junk food – may be a form of instant gratification but in the long term causes weight gain which may affect one's body image, leading to a lack of interest in becoming intimate. Unhealthy food choices also cause dips in energy levels.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption decreases sex drive.
  • Smoking - damages blood vessels leading to decreased blood flow and subsequently decreased arousal.
  • Depression – some antidepressants cause decreased libido as a side effect.

Positive coping mechanisms are vital to managing stress effectively, leading to a healthy sex life. These include:

  • Exercise – releases feel- good hormones, endorphins.
  • Whole-food plant based diet – nourishes the body resulting in increased energy.
  • Healthy social connections – being able to talk through problems or help gain perspective. Feeling supported is important to working through difficulty.

The goal then is to get to know your body and your health better, grow to understand the relationship between your body, stress, and your sex drive... And then see what happens.