We live in stressful times — the lingering effects of 2020 and the pandemic, work, kids, bills… Everyone’s a little (or a lot) stressed these days. Does that affect your sex drive? Absolutely.
Stress and libido are closely linked. This relationship can often be a catch-22 where stress prevents sex, but sex also relieves stress. How can you break out of this cycle?
The Biology of a Stress Response
Biologically, tour body’s stress response is a burst of hormones — adrenaline and cortisol — occurring during threatening situations. Or at least what your body perceives as a threat. This was extremely helpful for survival in early human history, when we were running away from predators, or any other types of physical danger.
But today, that same response to a constantly stressful environment can wreak havoc on your body — and your sex life. In our modern world we find ourselves being bombarded with new stressors. We might not be chased by bear — but we stress about being late for work or school, interpersonal conflict with family or coworkers, loud noises such as car horns or emergency vehicles, managing emails, finances, and deadlines, exposure to distressing social media posts and news reports…
When our bodies are exposed to any stimuli that “triggers” our nervous system, we experience a stress response.
Stress and Your Sex Drive
When our nervous system is constantly triggered to respond to daily stressors, it stays in a state of activation. This is literally our “survival mode”, where our bodies are programmed to keep us alive. This is commonly known as “fight, flight, or freeze”.
You can only imagine then how stress and low libido relate. When constantly activated, stress can increase our heart rate and blood pressure, and disrupt our hormone balances. Our body redirects energy towards essential bodily functions. Additionally, stress and anxiety can cause racing thoughts, lack of sleep (insomnia), and trouble focusing. These reasons alone can make it difficult to desire, much less engage in, sex.
The brain is the biggest sex organ, meaning if your brain feels overwhelmed or distracted with stressors, it has a…