We are physical beings and healthy sexual desire presupposes a health body. For most of us, good sex occurs when our minds and bodies are working well and in harmony. Low sexual desire, just as falling out of love or losing interest in your work is not considered a disease. The majority of low sexual desires are not due to one identifiable cause. There are many physical problems as well as emotional and stress related factors that can affect your libido.
Sex, with its physical and emotional release, the boding and release of endorphins can be a great stress reliever. Yet the effects of stress will lower our libido thus causing sex to go by the wayside.
Here are five ways that stress causes decline in the sex drive.
1. Adrenal Glands are constantly on high alert. In other words, every challenge to the mind and body creates a demand upon these glands. Adrenal dysfunction is caused by emotional, environmental, and physical stress. When chronically overworked, the glands will strain to maintain high Cortisol levels and lose the ability to produce DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) in healthy, normal amounts. Cortisol enhances your body's natural resistance and endurance. In excess it will suppress the sex hormones and can lead to osteoporosis. DHEA mediates many of the unfavorable causes of excessive cortisol. It is a precursor for testosterone. DHEA improves energy, vitality, and mental clarity and helps the body recover from acute stress. When your adrenals are depleted, your cortisol and DHEA levels are out of balance. Adrenal functioning can be restored by diet and lifestyle change and addressing the extra stress occurring in your life.
2. Depression can cause insomnia, changes in appetite, and a feeling of worthlessness. Constantly feeling out of control, powerless and worthless can cause a decrease in libido. If you only treat the symptoms of depression and do not address the underlying cause, there will be no improvement in sexual desire.
Some antidepressants make it more difficult for men and women to reach orgasm. This common side effect can also affect the libido. If your antidepressant interferes with your sexual pleasure you may need to consult with your health care provider or make some changes in your sexual behavior.
3. Appetite, either through weight gain and a combined feeling of helplessness and worthlessness can affect libido. This can lead to a negative body image, or even through weight loss due to restricted eating. Research shows that the brain chemical Neuropeptide Y, which kicks into high gear in response to food deprivation, also undermines sex drive.
4. Hormones can be affected by stress thus reducing levels of testosterone, and sex drive. Hormonal fluctuations are a natural part of life such as changes due to menopause, menstrual cycle fluctuations, pregnancy, and the postpartum period. Hormonal changes within the male body can affect the quantity and quality of sperm. Excess stress during these times will compound the symptoms and can result in a lowered sex drive.
5. Sleep deprivation causes excess wear and strain on your body and brain often leaving you feeling slow, soft, and sick.
Men who experience breathing difficulties during normal sleep tend to experience low sex drive. "Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of erectile dysfunction," says Jon L. Pryor, a professor of urologic surgery at the University of Minnesota. That's because testosterone levels plummet when you don't get enough sleep, making it much tougher to get and sustain an erection. But you may be too tired to care, since low testosterone also triggers a drop in men's desire for sex.
Sleep deprivation will cause a decline in testosterone levels in women, which has a big impact on her desire for sex. If you are unable to sleep you may want to consult with you health care provider.
Although stress can not be avoided, it can be managed by exercise, healthy eating habits, and making a few changes in your lifestyle. If the symptoms of lowered sex drive continue after making lifestyle changes, please consult your healtcare provider for further help.