How Anxiety Can Affect Your Sex Life

Your mood can change your libido, how you communicate with your partner, and more. With help, you can still have a fulfilling sex life.

Anxiety and anxious feelings can affect every part of your life—even your sex life.

Whether you have anxious feelings or a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, these emotions can be trouble for connecting with your partner and experiencing pleasure.

Here's how these feelings may affect your sex life and what you can do about it.

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How To Know if You Have Anxiety

When a person is anxious, they can have feelings of:

  • Fear
  • Uneasiness
  • Restlessness
  • Tension

Anxiety may also have an impact on how you think and behave. What you think about may not go away, and anxiety can cause you to avoid things you usually do.

Your body can also show signs of anxiety through:

Factors like genetics and stress can affect how a person feels anxious. But anxiety can also happen in certain situations related to sexual activity.

What Is Sex Anxiety?

Any of the signs and symptoms of anxiety above can happen because of anything sex-related. For example, a person may avoid sexual activity or be afraid of getting caught having sex.

Also, if someone has sex anxiety, it can affect any part of the sexual response cycle, which includes sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm. The anxiety also can be about one specific aspect of sex or several things about it.

How Anxiety Can Affect Your Sex Life

Understanding how your mood affects other parts of your life is the first step in getting the help you may need. Here are some signs that anxiety may be affecting your sex life.

Low Libido

Anxious feelings can make your sex drive plummet. For example, feeling overwhelmed might take over your thoughts and prevent you from being in the mood to have sex.

And then there's the libido-lowering side effect of certain medications used to treat anxiety. Antidepressants are often used to treat anxiety and one of the main side effects of antidepressants is sexual problems such as reduced sexual desire and inability to have sex.

Decreased Confidence

People with sex anxiety may have a lack of self-confidence, including feeling self-conscious about their bodies and how they look. If you are more focused on yourself and how you look, this can distract from sexual activity. These distractions may make it difficult for you to become aroused.

Aside from body confidence, you may be experiencing a lack of confidence due to feelings of being sexually incompetent. If you are busy thinking about how well you will preform, this can distract you from sexual activity.

Intimacy Avoidance

There may be times when anxiety keeps you from being close to your partner. And for people who have anxiety from past trauma or assault, sex can make them wary of their partner or fearful of sex itself.

If you experienced sexual assault in the past, talking with a psychologist or mental health professional can help you cope with the trauma you experienced.

Reduced Partner Communication

Communication is essential when it comes to sex. One study stated that couples who don't talk about sexual and non-sexual concerns might experience issues related to sex.

There may be things that keep you from discussing your wants, needs, or comfort level when it comes to sex. Any experiences you have that are related to existing sexual issues might increase anxious feelings. In turn, those feelings may make it hard to talk to a partner about sex.

But being honest is a way to potentially make your sex life better, and it can be a relief to talk about any bottled-up feelings.

Difficulties With Orgasm

Sex anxiety can also affect a person's ability to reach orgasm. Experiencing anxiety can make it more difficult to have an orgasm.

One study also said worries, in general, could limit sexual arousal and how often you orgasm. Additionally, anxiety or other mental conditions can cause erectile dysfunction.

These physical changes, along with your anxious thoughts, can further alter your awareness of sexual stimulation and inhibit orgasm.

A Quick Review

Anxiety is a condition where a person feels fear or worry. It can come about in thoughts, feelings, and actions and affect many parts of a person's life—including their sex life.

Anxious feelings can keep you from talking with your partner about your desires or prevent you from being confident about your body during sex.

If you experience any anxiety related to sex, seeing a healthcare provider or mental health provider can help you work through that anxiety.

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