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Is Anxiety Ruining Your Sex Life?

Is Anxiety Ruining Your Sex Life?

By Stacey Feintuch

Created: 01/31/2020
Last Updated: 02/05/2020

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Living with anxiety typically means it’s there wherever you go. It impacts our health—mentally, emotionally and physically. So, that means you can’t escape it when it comes to the health of your relationship, including when you’re in the bedroom between the sheets. Anxiety can cause panic, fear, tension and uneasiness. It can take over your thoughts and many areas of your life. Even when you love and care about someone, anxiety can stand in the way of romantic goals.

No two people experience mental health conditions exactly the same. But you should be aware of some generalities about anxiety and sex. Then, you can find ways to work with what’s going on with you.

Anxiety may impact your sex drive
Anxiety can cause lowered libido. When you’re anxious, you have higher levels of cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone). High levels of cortisol can suppress the sex hormones that impact desire. You may have been in the mood earlier in the day. But once your anxiety kicks in, it can prevent you from being in the mood. Find out about managing anxiety with self-care.

Anxiety can keep you from feeling confident about your body
It can be tough undressing in front of someone for the first time. When you have anxiety, you’re more likely to feel self-conscious and focus on your body’s “flaws.” Women may be self-conscious about their body or a particular body part. For those with anxiety, that self-consciousness is raised even more. Being self-critical and engaging in self-body shaming prevents these women from being able to be fully present emotionally and physically during sex. Is it stress or anxiety?

Anxiety can prevent you from being intimate
You may not want to be physically or emotionally close to your partner when you’re overwhelmed by panic. That can be especially scary and complicating for a woman who has had past trauma. It can cause her body to shut down to the point that it can prevent enjoyment of the experience of sexual touching and sex. Avoiding foreplay or sex can place a strain on your relationship.

Anxiety medications can decrease your interest in sex
Its an unfortunate side effect of certain medications used to treat anxiety. The drugs (SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to prevent the condition from worsening may also decrease your libido. Too much serotonin can decrease your libido and make it difficult to orgasm. If this is an issue, speak with your doctor. You may be able to have your dose adjusted or switch to a different medication.

Anxiety can make it more difficult to orgasm
Physical symptoms of anxiety like tensed or clenched muscles, rapid breathing, lightheadedness and shallow breathing mean you can’t relax. You have increased production of stress hormones that make you feel on edge. And that can all distract you from being able to climax. That means it can be difficult to experience pleasure and connect with your partner.