Stress is one of the most devious enemies of happiness because it creeps up and bleeds into everything we love. And if you’re feeling stressed out, it may be why you haven’t had the sexual desire you once did.
It’s not you. It’s stress.
In this post, we’re going to cover five ways stress negatively impacts your libido.
It’s a distraction
When you’re truly stressed, your mind is going to be on your problems and not on anything else — regardless of how pleasurable that thing maybe. You may even want to have sex to get your mind off of things, but you’ll quickly find that it doesn’t work. When you’re in the middle of the act and should be on cloud nine, you may find that your mind is wandering to entirely unsexy places. This can truly put a damper on your performance.
There’s a potential substance abuse spiral
Many people turn to substance abuse in times of extreme stress, and although it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism, it may feel like your only solution. Unless you’ve learned healthy coping mechanisms, you may turn to unhealthy mechanisms like drinking alcohol or abusing illicit drugs.
And the problem with this is that chronic stress by nature does not easily subside. These are typically issues that stick around, and so does the stress. But if substance abuse is the only way you know how to cope, you may run into problems with addiction. Addiction causes more stress, and that stress can lead you further into your addiction.
And to make problems worse, there’s also a connection between substance abuse and sexual dysfunction.
You’re in fight or flight
When you’re stressed out, your body enters what’s called the “fight or flight” reaction. During this period, your body prepares itself for a confrontation or to run the other way. But either way, you’re going to need adrenaline.
The problem is that your body doesn’t know the difference between acute and chronic stress, and so it maintains this state of high alert where it’s robbing from resources that aren’t as necessary for imminent survival. Your libido is one of those resources, unfortunately.
Try as you might, you’re probably not going to be able to come up with a scenario where sex would save your life. And so your body prioritizes other things — indefinitely.
You may be depressed
Over time, when stress is chronic, it can lead to depression. And this is only natural as you struggle to see a way out of the constant cycle of anxiety. If you aren’t dealing with your stress, you’re probably making it worse. And the cycle is going to continue for as long as you allow it.
Unfortunately, there’s a definite link between depression and low libido. In fact, a primary symptom of depression is the inability to enjoy things you previously loved. And for most people, sex is one of those things.
When you’re depressed, you’re more likely to make poor lifestyle choices, and this can lead you to feel bad about yourself.
Cortisol suppresses sex hormones
The stress response also triggers hormones to be released, including cortisol and epinephrine, whether chronic or acute. When we have high levels of cortisol and epinephrine circulating, this can cause decreased sex drive in the short and long term. When stress is chronic, the body actually starts using sex hormones like testosterone to meet the increased demand for cortisol, which naturally decreases your interest in sex.
This is one of many ways stress lowers your testosterone levels and libido.
If you’re struggling with low libido and think it may be due to stress, it’s crucial that you address the source of your stress. Not every stressor can be eliminated, but you can change the way your body handles stress. And this may sound like an impossible feat, but stress management therapy can help.