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What you need to know about anxiety and sex

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Anxiety, Articles

How anxiety can affect your sex life

Anxiety can take over your thoughts and many areas of your life. Even when you love and care for someone, anxiety can stand firmly in the way of your romantic goals, especially in the bedroom when you want to be intimate.

Untreated anxiety can cause panic, fear, tension, as well as performance anxiety, all of which are able to put a damper on your desire for intimacy. Everyone who suffers from anxiety experiences it in a different way, but many people are not fully aware of how anxiety can affect sexuality.

You may have been in the mood for love throughout the day, only to be disappointed in the bedroom if anxiety suddenly takes hold of you or your partner, and your mood dramatically changes.

Ways in which anxiety may affect your sexuality

Here are some issues which may occur:

  • Anxiety causes higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) to be released, which may suppress the sex hormones that affect desire. As a result, your libido may be substantially reduced.
  • When you have anxiety, it may make you more self-conscious about how you perceive flaws in your body. Women, in particular, may especially be concerned about some parts of the body, which will be exacerbated by anxiety. This can make it tough to undress in front of a stranger, or even a lover.
  • If you and your partner are accustomed to sharing physical and emotional closeness, should you be overwhelmed by anxiety and panic, a wedge may be driven between you and the intimacy you share. If your body shuts down from anxiety, you may tend to avoid sex – which will place a strain on your relationship.
  • Certain meds used to treat anxiety, have side effects which can decrease your interest in sex. These meds usually contain serotonin which is used to prevent anxiety from worsening. Unfortunately, research has shown that the calming effect of serotonin, also has the side effect of lowering libido and sexual desire. If this is an issue, the doctor may be able to change the dosage or prescribe a med that contains less serotonin.
  • The physical symptoms of anxiety-like tense muscles, rapid breathing, and sometimes light-headedness, make it difficult to relax. There may also be an increased production of cortisol stress hormones which can put you on edge. With all this going on, you may be distracted during sex and have difficulty reaching a climax.

Anxiety is not always easy to treat, and if your anxiety is chronic enough to impact your sex life and possibly harm your relationship with your partner, then you need help.

How to recognise anxiety in yourself

It is not only your sexuality that may be affected, here are some other tell-tale signs.

  • Nausea, fatigue
  • A racing heart, sweating, body shaking
  • Trouble concentrating on simple things

Some of these symptoms may indeed signify chronic anxiety, and you may be in need of a competent therapist experienced in these mental issues, to help you eliminate anxiety from your life, and create a new positive mindset to help you deal with anxiety and stress when it comes your way.

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