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The Negative Impact of Stress on One’s Sex Drive

Stress is a normal part of life. Still, according to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, when it becomes chronic, it can negatively influence one’s sex drive.


What Is Stress?

Stress is your body’s reaction to any type of demand or threat. When you perceive danger, whether real or imagined, your body’s defences go into overdrive in a quick, intuitive process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response”.

The stress response is your body’s attempt to protect you. When working correctly, it assists you in remaining focused, energetic, and attentive. In an emergency, stress can save your life by giving you greater power to fight yourself or by making you slam on the brakes to escape a car accident.


Stress can have additional benefits,  sometimes referred to as “eustress“.

It can, for example, help you rise to face obstacles, such as staying alert during a job presentation, sharpening your attention when attempting a game-winning free throw, or motivating you to study for an exam when you’d instead be watching TV. While not all stress is harmful, beyond a certain point, it ceases to be beneficial and begins to cause significant harm. Overwhelming stress can negatively influence your health, mood, productivity, relationships, overall quality of life, and sex drive.

What Exactly Is Low Libido? 

Before we get into the link between stress and decreased libido, let’s define what low libido is and isn’t. Men frequently mix up low libido with erectile dysfunction (ED).


ED is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection. Libido is merely your sexual urge. While ED and low libido can coincide and are frequently connected, they are very different problems.


Your overall physical health, including your genes and hormones like testosterone, partially fuels your libido. However, it is not entirely biological. Psychological elements such as stress and worry, and physical factors such as chronic disease, influence your interest in sex.


The urge for sex typically declines as we age, but there’s no reason it should go entirely, even in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.

What Does Research Suggest?

Studies have shown that high levels of stress can lead to decreased libido and sexual dysfunction in men and women.

Research conducted in 2019 by BodyLogicMD, a medical practice network, revealed 51% of respondents experienced “dead bedrooms” due to work stress.

Dead bedrooms” refers to a sexless relationship that might continue anywhere from months to years.

In the bedroom, a lack of communication between couples can raise tension, and many people get more worried if their self-esteem is low.

The relationship between stress and sexual dysfunction is complex, but it is thought to be related to the hormonal changes that occur in the body during periods of stress.

When stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that can disrupt the balance of other hormones in the body.

This can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels, a crucial hormone involved in sexual desire and function in both men and women. Stress can also have a psychological impact on one’s sex drive. When stressed, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, making it difficult to relax and enjoy sexual experiences. Stress can also lead to anxiety and depression, both associated with decreased libido.

How To Manage Stress

Fortunately, there are ways to manage stress and improve sexual function. Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. Stress management techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction can also be helpful.


Supplements and medications are also available to enhance your sex drive and help you maintain better functions when you’re spending intimate time with your partner.


“It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Your doctor may recommend sex therapists or mental health experts who specialise in treating diminished libido and sex drive due to stress.”

About Affinity Health 

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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