How Stress Can Cause a Low Libido

Stress From Work and Money Can Damage Your Sex Life

Couple facing away from each other in bed
Stress can dampen your libido, but there are steps you can take to bring back a healthy sexual appetite.. Juice Images/Cultura/Getty Images

From worrying about money to tight deadlines at work, stress in your life can lead to low libido. Dealing with so many concerns can impact your sex life, exacerbating the problem by potentially adding relationship issues to the problem. 

Stress Response and Low Libido

When you react to stress, your body goes through a series of changes in order to prepare you to run away or stay and fight, called your fight or flight response.

Part of this response is the release of hormones, such as cortisol or epinephrine. If your stress response isn’t reversed, it can contribute to a condition known as chronic stress, impacting your physical health in many ways, including causing a low libido.  

If you suspect that life stress is putting a damper on your libido, one of the first solutions you should consider is symptom management. If you reverse your stress response using effective soothing techniques, like breathing exercises or meditation, you won’t have as many hormonal disturbances from chronic stress. You should also consider specific strategies for dealing with the worry or anxiety in other areas of your life, so that they won't have an impact on your sex drive.Talking with a therapist specializing in stress management can help you come up with effective coping techniques. 

Busy Lifestyles and Low Libido

Many of us find ourselves busier than we ever thought possible.

Being constantly busy means having little down time, which can drain your energy and make sex unappealing. A busy schedule can mean a busy mind — and having a lot on your mind can make it difficult to relax and "get in the mood". Packed schedules can even present difficulties in finding the time for sex or make it feel like just one more chore on your mile-long "to-do list." 

The only way to manage this problem is to treat your time as precious and learn the power of "no" to prevent over-committing.  Prioritize certain activities and find out what projects or appointments aren't necessary to free up some time for yourself and for your partner. 

Relationship Stress and Low Libido

Relationship issues are perhaps the biggest issue to look at when dealing with low libido. Studies show that relationship stress,  conflicts within the relationship, can be a stronger factor in low libido than other types of stress. This is true for both men and women. And because men and women both say that their partner’s satisfaction impacts their own libido, a lack of interest in one partner can mean a lack of interest for both partners. 

Working through relationship difficulties is important for many reasons, and your sex drive is a big one. The first step here should be to make sure you’re using communication techniques that are fair and supportive of your relationship. Try to view problems as challenges you face together rather than seeing one another as "the enemy." Try to find strategies that support the needs of both partners.

If you have difficulty doing this on your own, see a therapist who can help you develop more effective relationship skills and work through some deeper issues can be an excellent idea as well. 

Bodenmann G, Ledermann T, Blattner D, Galluzzo C. Associations among everyday stress, critical life events, and sexual problems. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, July 2006.
Corona G, Petrone L, Mannucci E, Ricca V, Balercia G, Giommi R, Forti G, Maggi M. The impotent couple: low desire. International Journal of Andrology, December 2005.
Ditzen B, Neumann ID, Bodenmann G, von Dawans B, Turner RA, Ehlert U, Heinrichs M. Effects of different kinds of couple interaction on cortisol and heart rate responses to stress in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology., January 2007.
Eplov L, Giraldi A, Davidsen M, Garde K, Kamper-Jørgensen F. Sexual desire in a nationally representative Danish population. Journal of Sexual Medicine, January 2007.

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