How Stress May Be Affecting Your Sex Life and How To Prevent It

Modern life can cause many anxieties that can build up over time. Whether it is stressing about jobs, money or other commitments, the stress it brings can harm your libido. This in turn can lead to additional feelings of anxiety, and even cause strain on your relationships. In this article, we’ll cover the effects stress can have on you and your libido, how to deal with stress in a relationship, and other ways to help counter these pressures. 


How Can Stress Affect Your Libido?

Stress can cause a series of changes in the body, both physical and mental, in order to help you cope with whatever is pressuring you. This can produce a stress response (commonly known as the fight-or-flight response), which causes a chain reaction of effects on the body that can negatively affect libido.

Physical Effects

The physical responses to stress, in the short term, can be an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and even eventually panic attacks. Non-essential functions, like sex drive, are severely limited to focus on keeping you safe. While in the short term this can be troubling enough, if the stress continues and becomes chronic, the body can use sex hormones to satisfy increased demands for higher cortisol production, diminishing your interest in sex further. This can also manifest in symptoms such as erectile dysfunction. These issues can keep compounding, potentially causing a ‘feedback loop’ that can cause the stress to worsen.

Mental Effects

Stress can also impact you psychologically as drastically as it can physically. When stressed, you may have a distracted frame of mind, leading you issues during sex or to not even lose your libido entirely. It also impacts your mood, potentially causing anxiety and depression, both of which can also severely lessen libido. They can also cause their own physical issues, such as erectile dysfunction in their own way, causing another kind of negative feedback loop.

Everyday life

Finally, if stress isn’t treated then it can lead to poor lifestyle choices to cope with the stress (as coping mechanisms). This can include unhealthy behaviors such as eating less healthily, exercising less, smoking and drinking more, among others. While they may help in the short term, these can cause problems in both the above categories, once more leading to a spiral into more stress. 

Other Causes of Stress

There may be times when your life may not seem that stressful, you don’t overindulge in unhealthy behavior but you still feel stressed. *Below are some of the other causes of stress, which - as we've mentioned - can affect your life, even temporarily causing either brief or extended periods of loss of libido.

  • Lack of stimulating, rewarding lifestyle.
  • Uncertainty.
  • Big changes in your current life.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Lack of control in certain areas of your life.
  • Illness, especially when lengthy or chronic.

Coping with Stress in a Relationship

Even temporary stress and low libido can affect your relationship, so as with the majority of things in relationships, it’s important to be open and talk about things. 

It’s also best to keep in mind when talking to your partner about low sex drive, that you should try to avoid focusing blame on either yourself or your partner. Rather than focusing on blame, you should use open and honest communication about the possible causes of your stress as well as the physical and emotional symptoms you’re experiencing with your sex drive.

It’s important to consider how to approach the subject with your partner at the right time to discuss the issue of low libido. Here is an article with some pointers that you can use to talk openly with your partner. Talking through these issues with your partner can, ideally, help ease the stress in itself, although it may not solve the underlying issues. If communicating about stress and its effect on your libido seems difficult, we would always recommend talking to a professional for more advice.

Methods of Coping with Stress

If you are worried about your libido and think that stress may be playing a part in this, then you could examine different forms of stress management to try and help the underlying causes. If you can work on lowering your stress through relaxation techniques before the stress becomes chronic, this can help to halt the more long term negative effects of stress on your body and mind.

Some ways you can try to reduce stress and relax are:

  • Engaging in hobbies you know calm you down.
  • Breathing exercises, Guided Meditation, or other forms of mindfulness.
  • Physical exercises such as walking or jogging.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Masturbation. Over 80% of Americans use self-pleasure as a coping mechanism to deal with stress.

Should this not work for you, you should consider looking into talking to a therapist or medical professional for further advice that may help. 


It's essential to keep in mind that it's natural to experience a certain amount of fluctuation in your sexual desire and libido. If stress is negatively impacting your sex life and libido, however, you should never hesitate to seek further help. You can test out methods that may help to lower your stress levels and even boost your sex drive and confidence. If you’re in a relationship then talking with your partner may even end up strengthening your relationship and improving your overall mental and physical health. Above all, helping yourself to destress and feel more relaxed is the most important thing.

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