Is stress affecting my sex life?

Racing thoughts. Difficulty focusing. Constant feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. A short temper. Difficulty making decisions. Stress. It’s something we all experience. Whether we’re going through a stressful patch when a presentation is coming up at work, or a series of small stressors have built up over time, stress can impact us all in different ways. The longer we feel stressed and under pressure, the more time it has to take a toll on our health.

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As well as impacting your mental well-being, stress can also have a significant effect on emotional and physical health, too. This includes affecting your relationships, your energy levels, your sex drive, and even your ability to connect emotionally and intimately with your partner. Whether you realise it or not, the more stressed you are feeling in body and mind, the less energy and desire you have for activities, including sex. 

We can’t always control the things that are causing us stress, but we can learn to recognise them, find healthy ways to deal with how we are feeling and discover new ways to control our reactions to these stressors. 

How does stress affect me?

The effects and symptoms of stress vary from person to person, but there are many emotional, mental, and physical signs you can keep an eye out for. The more aware you are of your own reactions to stress, the better you will become at spotting the signs before you become overwhelmed, helping you to make changes, take action and look after your health and well-being.

Emotionally, stress may cause you to feel anxious or overwhelmed. You may find yourself becoming more easily irritated or angry, while your overall sense of self-esteem and self-worth can lower. 

Mentally, you may have difficulty focusing due to racing thoughts, or find you are having more trouble making decisions due to constant feelings of worry and unease. Physically, stress may leave you feeling dizzy and fatigued, with a higher or lower-than-typical appetite. Tense muscles, frequent headaches and problems sleeping can all be common side-effects.

Together, many of these things can change the way you are interacting with the world and those around you, impacting your personal, professional and romantic relationships. Over time, chronic stress can lead to other conditions, including anxiety and depression.

How does stress affect our sex lives?

Stress is one of our body’s natural survival instincts. When you feel stressed, you go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, as the body prepares to run from or fight perceived dangers. Your body starts increasing your heart rate and blood flow to help support these natural instincts, whilst decreasing non-essential functions – like sex. 

Hormones released when we are stressed can negatively impact our libidos. For men and women, this can cause a reduction in our desire to have sex, as well as anorgasmia (trouble reaching orgasm during sex). For men, this can also result in other issues including premature ejaculation and trouble getting or keeping an erection.

Hypnotherapy for stress relief

There are a number of different things you can do to try and identify your stress triggers and symptoms, as well as methods you can learn to help you manage stress. Self-care, relaxation techniques, undertaking more regular exercise and creating a sustainable sleep routine can all help you to lay the groundwork to reduce stress, promote well-being and focus on your health. 

However, if stress is having a significant impact on you, seeking additional help and support may be beneficial. Hypnotherapy can help you to break existing negative thought patterns and automatic responses to stress. With the help of an experienced hypnotherapist, you can learn more healthy reactions to stressful situations.

A hypnotherapist can work with your subconscious, suggesting new, healthier ways to respond to your stressors. Requiring an open mind and a desire to change, some people see positive results following just one session, whilst others may need multiple sessions to see an ongoing impact. Self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques are often also taught by your hypnotherapist to help you continue to make progress between sessions. 

While further research into the impact of hypnosis on stress is still needed, studies have shown significant positive effects of hypnosis for reducing stress. For those experiencing performance anxiety, or anxiety relating to stress, research has shown that clinical hypnotherapy can have a positive impact to help alleviate symptoms, and according to a 2017 study, hypnotherapy (rather than self-hypnosis) can even have a significant impact for both men and women to reduce anxiety. 

If you’re interested in working with a hypnotherapist, Hypnotherapy Directory lists over 1,500 qualified hypnotherapists across the UK. Simply browse profiles until you find the person right for you, and send them an email.

Want to learn more before getting started? To learn more about hypnotherapy and how it can help, check out our quick guide to hypnotherapy and hypnosis.    

Article updated 29 March 2023

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Written by Bonnie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
Written by Bonnie Gifford
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