Sexual desire is so often thought to be a natural emotion that we tend to forget that its dynamics depend upon a complex and seamless co-ordination of psychological, physiological and lifestyle factors. This is why despite your best intentions and a reasonably stable relationship, you may find yourself feeling low in the bedroom which is when you should take a second look at your lifestyle for evidence of stress. Here are ten signs that stress and worry are taking a toll on your love life.
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You cannot fall asleep
Lack of adequate sleep can not only ruin your chances of making a stellar presentation at the board meeting but dampen the vibes in your bedroom as well. If you believe that things have been hitting south in your love life, chances are that stress is robbing you of adequate sleep. While common sense suggests that a certain amount rest is essential for any experience that depends upon co-ordination between psychological and physiological systems as during love-making, researchers have now found a more direct link between sleep and libido. A study1 has found that men with poor sleep patterns have significantly lower levels of testosterone, which results in a lack of sex drive. Scientists from the university of Chicago found men who get less than five hours sleep a night for a week or longer suffer have far less levels of testosterone than those who get a good night’s rest. Low testosterone levels not only have an inhibiting on sexual desire but lead to reduced well-being and physical vigor as well.
You begin the day arguing
It is all too common for modern-day couples to start the day arguing – it could be anything from who is scheduled to drop the kids at soccer practice, whose turn it is to do the dishes to how to pay for the mortgage. Fighting over who has the toughest life worsens up already sky-high levels of stress resulting from over-scheduling, overwork and exhaustion. You lash out at the person closest to you – your partner; you say things you don’t mean and all these negativity has an inevitable effect in the bedroom.
You cannot keep off the cancer stick
One of the biggest misconceptions among smokers is that a fag helps you to calm the nerves. Thus smoking is often used as an excuse to cope with stress when in reality it only accelerates all other harmful medical conditions caused by stress like hypertension and premature aging. Along with other damaging effects, smoking has a generalized negative impact on the libido. Sexual functioning requires the coordination of several functions in the body. This includes the nervous system – or the process of mental stimulation - working in coordination with hormones, and the vascular system which pumps blood into the muscle tissue of the pelvic region so as to lead to sexual arousal smoking can affect all these systems, thereby, leading to reduced sex drive and impotence.
You drink too much
Just like cigarettes, alcohol too is commonly portrayed as an anti-dote to stress – when sales reports hit south or creditors are breathing down your neck, reach for the bottle of scotch. While it is true that alcohol does loosen inhibitions, making a guy and even his partner, more open to intimacy, it might have a negative effect where it most counts – in other words, alcohol might set the mood but take away the performance. A drink too many will not only hamper the brain-body co-ordination necessary for sexual performance, but its depressant qualities will actually slow down your responses, making it harder to have an orgasm. Apart from this getting drunk might even put off your partner and you might end up having lousy sex. The same goes for recreational drugs and other so-called libido boosters.
You take your worries to bed
Stress and sex don’t make good bedfellows. Ending your day by obsessing over your presentation for the next day or watching TV news recounting crime, economic downturns, and natural disasters on TV or online makes it hard to clear your head once you make it to the bedroom. Not only are all those issues on your mind, but they also may have a physiological effect on how sexy you feel. When you’re stressed, your body pumps more cortisol through your bloodstream, lowering testosterone levels and inhibiting sexual desire.
You are popping pills
Sometimes, the culprit behind a lack luster love life could be lurking in your medicine cabinet. Loss of libido is a side effect that accompanies a number of medications and many of these are used of treat stress-related conditions. Drugs such as antidepressants, antihistamines and blood pressure drugs may have been prescribed to you to treat stress-related problems but they may have ended up affecting your love life as well. Ask your doctor to prescribe alternatives or change the dosage if your sex drive is being affected by medications,
You rarely exercise
Lack of exercise has no doubt a direct and negative effect on libido. It makes you put on weight and hence feel unattractive. By hindering blood flow down south, it not only do you feel sluggish in general, but you’re also less likely to be sexually aroused when the opportunity presents itself. More importantly though, lack of exercise also leads to less ability to combat stress. When you have a good work out, your body releases pent-up tension and stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain that can reduce anxiety. So when you avoid working out, you are not only making it harder for yourself to fight stress but also making it harder to get in the mood for lovemaking.
You flip over small things
If you find yourself getting into a rage over minor things like a clattering of spoons in the kitchen or over things not in your control like a traffic jam, more often than before, it is as sure a sign as any that stress is getting to you. While this is no doubt harmful to your own health, it also has a direct impact on your love life. You will find yourself irritated by your partner’s words and actions – no matter how insignificant. Over time, your partner will feel he/she is walking on eggshells around you and the perpetual tension in the bedroom will keep any chances of love making away.
You have a ‘headache’
Even though in popular culture, a ‘headache’ is the butt of jokes standing as a euphemism when a partner doesn’t want to have sex, it could actually be a very real physiological manifestation of stress. If you have been regularly complaining of “inexplicable” headaches, stomach aches and other aches and pains, chances are that you are suffering from stress which in turn is sending your love life for a toss.
You hardly talk to your partner
Even if you are fulfilling all your responsibilities without blowing up, if you have treated into a stony silence, it is probably because you are finding it difficult to cope with stress. Some personalities do not express their tensions and anxieties by yelling at others but keep them bottled within. On the outside they may seem to possess an equable temperament but inside they may be struggling to hold it together. If you feel yourself, avoiding his/her company, refusing to meet his/her eye, turning down all attempts to communicate then you need to find more effective ways of dealing with stress. All couples require a degree of intimacy – whether emotional or physical – and withdrawing from your partner will only harm your love life further.