Originally posted on Bustle.
Whenever I have friends who are going through dry spells in their relationship, stress is almost always to blame. Now, it doesn’t have to ruin your sex life — not even close. But stress can affect your sex life in a very direct way. Though the stress can come from a lot of different places, it’s always good to go back to the basics of a relationship. And that means communicating about it.
“As always, communication is preferred; while it seems juvenile, many couples experience unnecessary stress due to a lack of communication,” author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. “Communicating with your mate can simply mean to just listen. Be attentive, by demonstrating that you have heard what they’ve said by doing something to signal to them that you have heard them. If something is bothering them, do something to correct that irritation in their lives.”
But like I said, stress can come from — and manifest itself — in so many different ways. So for some people it may cause anxiety in the bedroom, for some it may mean you don’t even want to have sex at all, and for some it can mean an inability to focus. If you can’t quite put your finger on what’s going on in your sex life, try to think of how you might be stressed. Here are some of the possibilities:
1. Stress Has A Direct Impact On Your Hormones
Firstly, there’s a very physical response. So you might not notice it, but your stress drive can plummet because of stress.
“Stress at work can decrease sex drive because stress sends out cortisol into our[bodies], which is a hormone that can suppress sex hormones,” Kelly Connell, sexuality educator and counselor and sex educator at NaughtyNorth.ca, tells Bustle. “Also, in times of high stress, we go into a fight or flight response and tend to think about survival. The pressure of work, the need to pay bills, and the fear of losing a job often moves sex to the back burner.” If you’re just not interested in sex all of a sudden, take a step back and think of where the stress could be coming from.
2. You Can Stress About Not Having It Enough
Sometimes sex just slips, but then that’s its own sort of pressure. You haven’t had sex in a month and you don’t know how it happened. But starting to have sex again is almost an acknowledgement of the fact that you haven’t been having it — and you’re not ready to do that. So the stress means the cycle continues. This is where communication can help— air out the problem and it will lose its power.
3. Women Can Get Performance Anxiety, Too
We often think of it as a male issue, but a lot of women struggle with performance anxiety too. Don’t be afraid to admit it, especially when there are so many coping mechanisms available. “If you suffer from performance anxiety, be sure to breathe,” Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. “Focus your inhale and exhale using a non obvious pattern to keep you present. If you’re thinking about your inhale or exhale then thoughts can’t pop in your mind. If a new distracting thought enters, send it away (say something like ‘Bye bye thought!’) and go back to inhale exhale.”
4. Special Occassion Stress Can Ruin The Mood
Sometimes the stress comes in the form of putting too much pressure on having sex. Say you’ve been too tired to have sex all week, then Saturday date night rolls around — the buildup can mess with your head.
“I believe quantity is sometimes more important than quality,” Dr. Kat Van Kirk, author of The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Lifeand the resident relationship/sex expert at Adam and Eve tells Bustle. “Often if you’ve been waiting the whole week, there are certain expectations regarding extraordinary sex that may create unneeded pressure.” And nights like Valentine’s Day or anniversaries can have even more buildup. Try to let it happen naturally and spontaneously– and take advantage of when you’re both in the mood, rather than trying to force it.
5. Other Stresses Can Have An Indirect Impact
Don’t underestimate how much really stressful areas can seep into every part of your life. The big ones that come to mind are work and money. And money is often more complicated, because it’s more difficult to talk about. “An honest money chat is a much more intimate reveal of beliefs and values, expressed through how you spend,” Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Financially Fearless, tells Bustle. “The discussion can and should eventually lead to your biggest dreams, hopes, and fears, so young couples can feel vulnerable when discussing those topics with each other —especially if it’s the first time they’ve broached them in a romantic relationship.”
Internalizing that stress can have a huge affect on your general health, your love life, and your sex life. Talking about the non-sex issues can keep them from coming into the bedroom with you. Stress is a malleable beast — and it can mess with your sex life in a lot of ways. Try to stay self-aware, honest, and kind to yourself — that’ll help nip the problem in the bud.