The jury has long been out on stress. I shudder at the thought of it, and even the stats send chills down the spines of any health-conscious individual. Seventy-seven percent of individuals in the US attest to “regularly” experiencing the physical symptoms caused by stress.
That is a very significant number by all accounts. The chills get even more intense when we consider that stress heavily impacts virtually all vital body systems. Stress sets off a chain reaction that ripples across with substantial impact, regardless of whether your over-imposing boss or sleep deprivation is the cause.
One of the vital parts of your life that suffers when stress hits you hard is your sex life. It is redundant to spell out the merits of a healthy sex life, but it is parallel to shooting yourself in the foot if you do not fully understand the specific distressing ways stress can give your sex life a beating.
1. Stress alters your perception.
In this case, stress alters your perception about your partner and your relationship. It's no secret that when stressed, we become more likely to snap at just anyone, including our partners.
That is because our tolerance threshold is low. However, it is often difficult for your partner to be emphatic, especially when he or she expects a certain level of self-control.
Still, that is just one way to explain it. The other explanation is less understood, but stands with verifiable evidence. PsychCentral declares that stress makes us more likely to see our relationship and partner in a negative light.
The details of how and why still needs a bit more fine-tuning, but the evidence is overwhelming. And to crown it, we may very well not be self-aware of this when stress influences us this way. In simple terms, stress causes fears and friction where there may be none.
2. It negatively affects your body image.
However, some of us know that stress is one of the leading triggers of poor body image, a far smaller subset understands the details of the relationship and only a minute few recognize the signs. It may be that stress causes you to gain weight or not take care of yourself more, so your attractiveness drops like a rock. Regardless of the reason, a poor body image equals less sex.
For those in a relationship, less sex creates problems in the relationship. Couple that with lack of communication, which leads to more arguments, and you are on course to hit a rock.
This is the case when the relationship itself is not the stressor. As it turns out, relationships represent the fourth largest cause of stress in the US. Thus, you should watch the opposing lanes of traffic very carefully.
Are you allowing stress caused by other stressors impact your body image and, in turn, your relationship? Or, are you not nurturing your relationship enough to prevent it from being a stressor, and so it is impeding your sex life?
3. It crushes your confidence.
We have established that stress affects your mind and your appearance. Well, stress also does a number on your self-esteem. We all know that if your self-esteem takes a hit, your game is seriously maligned. If you're looking for love when your self-esteem is dipping, then you have a serious problem because self-assurance is key.
For the record, confidence is not only important when you have to walk up to a gorgeous lady or a cute guy at the bar and start a convo. There is a linear relationship between self-esteem and quality of sex. This is true for both genders.
4. It triggers excessive drinking.
Alcohol has long been a viable escape route from the worries that plague our minds consistently. Thing is, when the stressor becomes more weighty, drinking gravitates from only a glass of wine or bottle of beer to excessive, prolonged drinking.
To be accurate, there is no accepted consensus of the maximum number of glasses wine to drink per day, mainly because alcohol affects individuals differently. We all know our limits and may consciously strive to stay within the normal range, but when stress builds, it becomes very easy for us to lose our willpower. This can be a huge problem for your sex life.
For men, getting an erection becomes embarrassingly difficult (what the medics will like to call erectile dysfunction or ED), and for women, lubrication becomes challenging because alcohol is a dehydrating agent. Either way, having good sex becomes a tall order.
5. It decreases your sex drive.
Stress affects our metabolism. In fact, a certain hormone called cortisol is implicated for being responsible for much of the negative effects of stress in our internal body dynamics.
There is a linear relationship between cortisol levels and stress levels. When the levels of cortisol are elevated for a prolonged period of time — when you're stressed for an extended amount of time — cortisol suppresses sex hormones, which can leads to sexual problems like ED and ejaculation disorders. Without substantial levels of sex hormones, your libido will drastically reduce and make sex for you less appealing.
6. It turns off your fertility switch.
This one is scary, but it is as real. Now, we understand (and you do too) that if your sex drive is low and you're not having sex, then you're not getting pregnant.
However, stress can have more radical in impact. Cortisol has been shown to be capable of preventing a perfectly healthy woman of childbearing age from ovulating by the European Society for Human Reproduction And Embryology. Without ovulation (release of eggs), getting pregnant is impossible because there will be no fertilization.
Stress can have dire effects on us, but thankfully, it can be managed. Use the wide array of methods and advice out there (like regular exercise and taking a well-deserved vacation) to rid yourself of stress, and strive to ensure your happiness.