For many people, once the stress shows, the sex goes. In fact, stress is the number one reason that couples stop having sex.
And this can wreak havoc on your relationship.
“[Stress] can cause major rifts in relationships, from low tolerance for your partner’s behaviors to massive arguments when physical and emotional needs aren’t being met,” says author and stress management speaker Kristen Brown.
Not sure if stress is to blame for your loss of libido? Check your symptoms:
- Feeling extra irritable? You may find yourself shorter with your significant other and less able to rely on the relationship for comfort, says sex therapist Dr. Tammy Nelson. It may seem like every little thing your partner does has a huge impact on your attitude, causing the both of you to argue.
- Can’t get turned on? “When women are stressed, their oxytocin levels are low, which means they aren’t going to feel like cuddling or be their normal affectionate selves. When men are stressed, their testosterone levels are depleted and they may not be in the mood. Their ability to function sexually can be comprised,” says Nelson.
- Failing to climax? If your mind is not in the moment and you're thinking about that work project or parking ticket, it’ll decrease your chances of climaxing. Stress also makes it hard to relax, which inhibits the chances of orgasm in women, says sex counselor and author Ian Kerner.
- Having trouble fantasizing about sex? Since sexual desire starts in the brain, having sexy thoughts about your partner can put you in the mood. But, it’s hard to be turned on by the thoughts of intimacy when our minds are focusing on whatever it is that is stressing us out.
So, how can we keep the sex (and the relationship) going and leave the stress at the bedroom door?
- Talk it out. If you're not in the mood, your partner might take it personally, says Kerner. Avoid further relationship problems by explaining WHY you aren’t in the mood. “Tell them, 'It’s not you,' and follow it up with what’s really bothering you,” adds Nelson.
- Find time to connect and have fun. Plan a date night or come up with ideas together. “If you’re truly too tired or stressed for sex, finding other ways to stay connected helps reassure your partner they are not to blame,” says Brown.
- Prioritize sex. The more you have it, the more you want it. In addition, If you show a degree of willingness, you may get turned on and find that sex is an amazing reliever of stress. It may get to the point where sex actually becomes a release, says Kerner.
- Remember the love. Now is not the time to take your stress out on loved ones. When stress gets in the way of your relationship, think back to the early days of your love and try to recapture those feelings, says Brown.
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