Sex is a great stress reliever, but stress itself can negatively impact our sex lives.
Many people lead busy lives that can feel overwhelming, and 24 hours in a day doesn’t seem enough to fit everything in. Constant pressure can take its toll on our health and mental wellbeing as our bodies get used to being in ‘fight or flight’ mode, producing adrenaline and prolactin to keep going. Prolactin is known as ‘the celibacy hormone’ as it dampens sex drive.
Even when you do have sex, this constant stream of chatter in your mind means you aren’t focused on having sex, and not being in the moment can impact upon your partner’s pleasure as well as your own, increasing your stress levels further.
And it’s not just women who are affected. Men often experience stress-related sexual issues such as impotence (ED or erectile dysfunction), which in turn can affect their relationship with their partner, who may think they are no longer desired, leading to further stress.
HOW TO BEAT STRESS AND ENJOY SEX
TALK TO YOUR PARTNER
Your partner may not be aware that you are feeling stressed, so acknowledging that worry may be causing you sexual issues is the first step to regaining your sex life.
It must also encourage your partner to take some responsibilities off your shoulders. Research has shown that sharing the chores is one of the secrets to a good relationship, as getting help at home can help you feel less tired and more in the mood for sex.
MAKE TIME FOR SEX
Sex isn’t just about penetration: making time for sex play and to feel sexual is essential, and doesn’t come with the ‘stress’ of feeling you need to achieve orgasm.
Enjoy prolonged foreplay, intimate massage, or just kiss and cuddle to lower those stress levels.
Finding time for sex can even help relieve stress. Quick sex is a great boost for your mood so set the alarm 10 minutes earlier. If your stress levels start to creep up later in the day, just think about your pleasurable wake-up call!
DITCH THE TECHNOLOGY
Finding time to have sex can be difficult in our busy lives, but if you are sending work emails and your partner is watching TV, there is even less chance of it happening, as your mind will be on other things.
One in four of us text before we go to sleep and over one-third of people take their laptop to bed, so make sure you don’t fall into that trap to avoid stress before bedtime.
Sex and masturbation are great stress relievers, so make a little “me” time when you’re feeling stressed.
When we think of sex, our brain releases dopamine, a chemical that gives us a feeling of pleasure, lowers our blood pressure, and creates a feeling of wellbeing.
GET MORE SLEEP
Stress can affect our sleeping patterns, but a good night’s sleep keeps our sexual engines humming. Healthy people who have good sleep patterns are going to be more open to being sexual.
LOOK AFTER YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
You may find yourself drinking too much or overeating when stressed, but a balanced diet will make you feel happier and more confident inside and out.
Additionally, people who exercise regularly have increased stamina and enjoy better sex lives. All forms of exercise boosts your endorphins, feel-good hormones, which can increase your libido and reduce stress levels.
It can also improve your circulation, increasing blood flow around the body, especially to the genital area, boosting sexual function and quality of orgasms too.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and having a hobby you enjoy can help too.
TALK TO YOUR GP
Simply recognizing stress as a contributing factor or the cause of sexual problems can be enough to help you. Just talking to someone outside your family can help you put your life into perspective and bring about change to your health and your relationship.