Stress is the state of the mind when it is not able to cope up with what is happening around you. You may respond/react to it physically, mentally or emotionally. Anxiety is an intense, excessive worry or fear about every little and big thing that happens around you. Stress is typically temporary depending on your circumstance whereas anxiety is continuing to feel stressed or worried. Causes of stress can be either work, finances, personal relationships etc. People with anxiety may feel nervous, helpless, restless, depressed or even worthless.
Can stress and anxiety affect your sex drive in a positive way?
Stress and anxiety can affect your sex drive in both positive and negative ways depending on the situation and individual.
When does stress increase your sex drive?
- When you are stressed and anxious, your mind may ask for relaxation, care and safety which can be received during intimate times.
- You may want a distraction after prolonged stress and may think about having some intimate moments with your partner.
- In situations when you have fear and uncertainty, you may feel like spending more time with your partner which can include time in bed.
When does stress and anxiety hurt your sex drive?
- The stress surely hurts your brain and can take you towards depression. This may not give way for any other thoughts including sex.
- Sometimes you may have a foggy brain or a busy brain which does nothing but at the same time, it won’t be able to think of anything else. “Your genitals may be reproductive organs but the main sex organ in the body is the brain” says Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran from Chennai’s leading men’s infertility clinic, Metromale Clinic & Fertility Center.
So, what happens in the brain when it undergoes continuous stress?
When you are undergoing continuous stress, the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA axis) gets activated and it tries to help you to cope with the stress. Activation of HPA axis results in increase of production of Cortisol, the stress hormone. This raises blood sugar levels, blood pressure and inhibits the immune system. Higher Cortisol levels are linked with anxiety and lowers production of testosterone which is the primary hormone responsible for sex drive in men. Altered production of testosterone alters the blood flow to the penis resulting in decreased libido and erections causing Erectile Dysfunction.
Stress and anxiety can cause Erectile Dysfunction
- Stress in men under the age of 30 may have erectile dysfunction due to stress and anxiety. However, this is usually short lived and once the stress levels subside, normal erections return.
- Stress in men over the age of 30 and less than 40 or 45, can be due to personal reasons, professional or finance related. This can severely hurt libido and cause erectile dysfunction.
- Men over 45 usually have reduced erections due to ageing. Body produces lower amounts of testosterone as age progresses. Add stress and anxiety on top of it, one may not even remember when they had the last erection.
- As said earlier, brain doesn’t signal the testicles and reproductive system to produce enough testosterone or to fill the penis with blood for erections when it is under tremendous or continuous stress.
- Psychologically, stress and the consequences of it can result in lowering the self esteem as well as loss of interest in sex.
How do you stop yourself from getting stressed?
- When you realize that you are stressed out and if you know the reason why, try to get out of that scenario, say, if the reason is your profession, try changing it and you may get out of stress. As soon as you relieve yourself from stress, your libido returns and you can have fun like before with your partner.
- Practice meditation and yoga to keep your brain calm.
- If you are having problems with in your relationship, remember that no relationship is perfect. “Mutual understanding and adjustments in life are needed when you change from ‘me’ to ‘we’“ adds Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran, who is also a sex therapist and counsellor in our Chennai clinic.
- If your sex drive is still low and you realize that you are not interested in having fun moments with your partner that can seriously dent your personal relationship. You should speak with your sexologist immediately to address your problem.