Anxiety is an affliction that can consume every aspect of your reality – and your sex life is no exception.
Board-certified sex counselor and marriage therapist Jassy Casella Timberlake aptly compares sex and anxiety with oil and water; they simply don’t mix well.
Anxiety will always have a constant, negative effect on a person’s intimate relations. And what’s worse, the subsequent medication for treating said anxiety also comes with their own set of issues.
Medical experts have shared some strategies that will help in dealing with this often crippling condition. Granted, every person might have their own individual experiences and circumstances, but we believe that being aware of the general facts will greatly aid one’s search for improvement.
The Effects Of Anxiety On Sex Drive
Anxiety considerably lowers your libido or sexual desire. Abby Altman, a psychiatrist from New York, shares that stress and anxiety lead to increased cortisol levels, a steroid that suppresses the sex hormones in our body.
Doing the dirty while being anxious or stressed is akin to multitasking; it doesn’t come naturally and requires added effort.
Dr. Altman explains that your neurological system is essentially occupied by two very different processes. And both sex and anxiety employ the same part of one’s mental faculties, your autonomic nervous system.
To put it simply, instead of your mind is hampered by your present anxiety instead of focusing on your sexual desires.
Just because you have anxiety doesn’t automatically mean that your libido is lessened, though. Altman adds that some individuals employ sex as a form of relief, constantly looking for sexual gratification to relieve their stress, whether in the form of intercourse or more frequently, masturbation. This is backed by current studies concluding that some individuals will have a higher sex drive when anxious. In the end, there really is no “typical” way a person reacts to stress in relation to their libido.
The Effects Of Anxiety On Intimacy
Anxiety also affects the actual act of sex. For instance, it can hinder your capacity to orgasm. It can also make it more difficult to keep yourself aroused, Dr. Altman says.
In addition, you might experience some disagreeable physical symptoms induced by anxiety. You could have tense muscles or light-headedness, for instance; obstacles that will cripple your sexual experience.
And emotionally speaking, it might weaken the connection you have with your partner. Bringing your anxiety in the bedroom is not exactly the most desirable situation.
Your partner could also take your anxiety to heart and might lead them to believe that they’re the reason for your decreased libido. Your anxiety is something that your partner inevitably picks up, and it will build a wall that can destroy your relationship unless both of you address it.
You could also have anxiety because of sex. A history riddled with sexual trauma or the feelings of shame from having sex can bring up more complications. This already lies in the realm of intimacy issues, and will often require separate treatment.
For instance, there are some women who might have vaginismus, a condition where their vaginal muscles constrict so tightly during sex that their partner will experience pain. The root cause of this is usually attributed to past trauma or feelings of shame brought about by their upbringing or education. More and Study!
The Effects Of Anxiety Medication On Your Sex Life
The medications used to treat anxiety could possibly lower your sex drive too; quite the cruel irony. Doctors will usually treat their patients with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) aimed to alleviate their anxiety. Unfortunately, an excess of serotonin will often decrease your sexual virility, making it harder to achieve orgasm.
Steps You Can Take To Have A Better Sex Life Despite Your Anxiety
You shouldn’t let your anxiety stop you from having a great sex life.
For anxiety medication, you can simply consult your doctor for alternatives or smaller doses if you feel that you’re having a tougher time under the sheets. Educate yourself about the meds you’re using. Knowing the possible side effects will help you notice them much quicker if they ever appear. And you can talk to your doctor for the best course of action.
Your doctor might prescribe you with Wellbutrin, an antidepressant that could mitigate some of the side effects of anxiety medication. Of course, your anxiety will take precedence if it’s more severe than your sexual problems. Doctors will make this the top priority if treating it makes your day to day much more manageable instead of just focusing on a single aspect of your life. With that said, if you feel that your sexual problems are negatively affecting your mental health, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns because your doctor is there to help you.
If your anxiety isn’t caused by medication, there are a couple of ways you can improve your sex life. Employ the services of a therapist. If you feel that you may be harboring trauma from your past, this is an excellent step to take.
Sex therapists are especially trained to make people more comfortable when talking about their intimate life. Having a one on one with a professional can answer your concerns, and if needed, facilitate some communication between you and your partner. Therapy can be expensive, though, and it’s not readily accessible in some places. You could try group therapy or text therapy. Try looking for therapists that provide rates that scale with their patient’s income.
Apart from treating your anxiety directly, you can also try to look for some relief for its symptoms. If you’re muscles tense up, get a relaxing massage. If you’re breathing tends to become quick and shallow, do some breathing exercises. There are numerous measures that can help you cope with your anxiety and reduce your stress. You just have to find out which one is best for you.
Communicate with your partner and find ways to make your intimate relations a more fun and comfortable experience for both of you. An open form of communication will also help air out any misunderstandings that may have been brought about by your condition.
Sex and anxiety might not go hand in hand, but if you approach your condition in the right way, it will become almost inconsequential.
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