6 Ways to Stop Stress From Ruining Your Sex Life

not in the mood for sex

Not in the mood? (Again?) We don't mean to stress you out, but, uh, anxiety, anger, guilt, depression -- aka STRESS -- is a huge libido killer.

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"Medical doctors and therapists have known for decades that sex and stress make for poor bed mates," says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD, a licensed family and marriage therapist who practices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Telluride, Colorado.

Not only does stress make you feel exhausted to the bone -- like you started to run a marathon and then realized around mile three that you were pulling a car behind you -- but cortisol (aka "the stress hormone") "makes us want to shut down rather than open up," Hokemeyer says.

And "the last thing we want during a bout of stress is an intimate connection with another human being," he points out. "The vulnerability associated with that is simply too much for our psyche to handle."

Women feel the effects of stress more intensely than men, and Hokemeyer believes that extends into the bedroom, too.

"Men are more transactional when it comes to sex," he explains. "Women, in contrast, come to sexual relationships with a much higher level of vulnerability and a sense of responsibility for pleasing their mate."

To break it down: Stress makes us feel gross about ourselves. And then we feel guilty as well because we don't feel like writhing around in bed like a porn star.

So how to snap out of it? Fortunately, you don't have to wait until you win the lottery so you can finally take a relaxing month-long Caribbean vacation. There are steps you can take right now to shield your sex life from further stress fractures.

More from CafeMom: 12 Serious Scientific Facts About Women & Stress

1. Try to reduce the stress in your life. Say you had ants in your kitchen. You probably wouldn't (just) complain about their walking over your counters and trailing over your food. And you wouldn't ignore them. You'd DO something to get rid of them. Same goes for stress. Stop and ask yourself, what can you do (or not do) to decrease the stressors in your life?

2. Don't have sex when you don't feel like it. "It will only make things worse," assures Hokemeyer.

3. Eat nutrient-rich foods that help stave off stress. Hokemeyer's top choices: bananas, nuts, and cold water fish like salmon.

4. Make exercise part of your daily routine. "Focus on physically releasing the stress in your body through stretching, walking, or, if you're able, more rigorous exercise," Hokemeyer says. "Try to push yourself to a mild state of exhaustion. In doing so, you'll help your body relax."

5. Break the stress cycle. Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, which then cause you to engage in negative behaviors, points out Hokemeyer. "Get your mind out of this destructive cycle by engaging it in a linear process," he advises. One way to do that: counting from 1 to 100 five times in a row.

6. Ease up already. Golden rule: You have to RELAX to be in the mood for sex. "Easy does it," says Hokemeyer. "Be kind and gentle to yourself and give the process time." 

save sex life from stress

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