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How does stress affect sexual desire?

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Stress is perhaps the number one culprit in low sexual desire. We're all running around with more things to do than there are hours in the day, leaving ourselves feeling exhausted and often frustrated. Too much stress often saps away a person's libido by affecting hormones and mood and by interfering with the quality time that helps a couple stay connected.

One of the keys to boosting libido is to have a more balanced life -- in all ways. It's not just the big stresses, such as financial worries or losing a loved one, that contribute to low desire. It's also the small, daily stresses. Running late, trying to fit too much into a day, not eating right, and constantly bickering with your partner all can affect your sexual energy. Simple changes can make a big difference: You should get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and manage your time smartly. If you can restructure your daily life to feel more manageable, your sex life and your relationship will benefit -- and the effects will increase as you continue a more balanced life.
Stress can be good or bad.  Sexual arousal itself is a form of good stress that the body resolves through orgasm.  Bad stress is most often from external sources that divert your energy from sex to resolving the stress.  While you are focused on resolving the stress, your brain pushes sexual stimuli away from your consciousness so you can concentrate on the problem at hand.  When the stress is resolved, your brain will then let you pay attention to sexually intriguing things and activities.
Ian Kerner, PhD
Sexual Health

Stress is perhaps the number one culprit in low sexual desire. We’re all running around with more things to do than there are hours in the day, leaving ourselves feeling exhausted and often frustrated. Stress can greatly affect men’s and women’s desire for sex. Too much stress often saps away a person’s libido, by affecting hormones and mood, and by interfering with the quality time that helps a couple stay connected.

The good news is that too much stress is fixable! The key to boosting libido is to have a more balanced life --in all ways. It’s not just the big stresses, such as financial worries or losing a loved one, that contribute to low desire or less enjoyable sex. It’s also the small, daily stresses. Running late, trying to fit too much into a day, not eating right and constantly bickering with your partner all can affect your sexual energy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.