Stress and sex drive – Why your sex drive is affected by stress & and what you can do about it

Stress is a sneaky thing because the really hardcore stress will not just happen from one day to the other. If you already are not feeling any stress then you can CLEARLY feel the stress building.

As a human you are able to handle sudden stress from a certain event or three busy days at work. However, when the situation is “taken care of”, the stress will fade away and ta-dah, you move on with your life. Without stress and with your sex drive fully intact.

Stress and sex drive is not a good combinationBut what if you for a while now have slowly been making yourself more and more busy?

What if everyday life is putting pressure on you again and again?

And what if it is not just your job but also at home that you feel like you are not making ends meet?

You feel insufficient, you don’t get enough done…. And this goes on for a fair while… What ACTUALLY happens to the body?

And does it affect your sex drive?

Stress and sex drive…


Ohhh yes!

I promise you it does.

But funnily enough, it can go both ways. You can either find your sex drive to disappear completely or you can find your sex drive escalating to a level you’ve never even experienced before – but before I tell you more about this, let me just give you a quick rundown on what sex drive really is.

Sex drive is about one thing: biology and procreating

Sex drive is about one thing: biology and procreatingOn an entirely biological level, and please excuse me for bringing out the old biology teacher in me, sex drive is about one thing and one thing only.

To procreate.

Sex drive is a mechanism given to us by nature which makes us want to pass on our genes, to procreate and secure the survival of the species.

This is all basically terribly boring when you are looking at it from a biologically point of view, nevertheless, it’s true.

And when you know this it does make perfect sense!

Because then you are able to always ask your body “Hello there old buddy, how are you today?” and if your body is feeling tired, exhausted, drained or filled with stress for example, then from a basic human level it just doesn’t seem to make any sense to procreate and put more little people into this world who will demand your time, energy and nurturing – because your body already knows full well that you barely have time to take care of yourself.

Sex drive is controlled by your stoneage brain

Sex drive is controlled by your stoneage brainDespite us living in a developed, technologically advanced and very productive society our brains do still live in the stoneage and when stress has entered your body, your body is constantly alert, constantly in a fight/flight mode, survival state of mind – sweet kid has many names.

What they have in common though is that if you lived in the stoneages and had a body which was in a condition of “I’m being chased by a tiger”, then it just doesn’t make any sense to procreate.

In any way. And this is why your sex drive becomes extremely low if you are suffering from actual stress. I know it sounds strange but it really is true.

But Maj, you told me in the beginning of this article that the sex drive could increase too?

Yes it can.

But this happens more rarely than your sex drive going away completely. It often happens to men and when it is boosted as much as this all at once, and then it increases A LOT.

It’s like the biology in the stoneage brain is saying: “Are you completely mad? I have to pass on my genes and I have to do it now before I die.” It’s scary, isn’t it?

That the body can actually react THAT aggressively because it believes it is going to die very soon. This says something about what stress actually does to the body and the brain.

The men I have met since I opened up my clinic back in 2006 who had experienced their sex drive to go completely nuts, had all been extremely frustrated and did not know how they, excuse my French, could fuck five times a day without it having caused some form of reduced sex drive afterwards.

Many of these men had also experienced that it was purely through sex that they could really just switch off and not feel the stress. And this is how sex became their only safe place in their everyday lives.

When stress and sex drive ruins the relationship

When the high sex drive ruins the relationshipDo I have to tell you how unbelievably exhausting it was for the women who lived with these men?

After a relatively short period of time the women felt reduced to a sex machine that had only one purpose in life: delivering sex whenever he wanted it – and with the high sex drive that the stress caused, this could be morning, noon and night.

These women all had difficulties getting through to their men and making him understand their frustrations and getting them to listen to how they perceive the situation.

Again, this is completely natural because this is what stress also does to a body and to a person.

Of course you do not have time to sit down and listen when you’re running away from a tiger; the part of the brain where empathy and understanding, the care and the loving emotions, simply shuts down in one way or the other all depending on the degree of stress you are under.

If you are experiencing a high degree of stress over a longer period of time, you can even find yourself not feeling anything at all.

The body has simply shut down the mechanism “to feel” because it just doesn’t have the surplus energy for it and again it does not make sense to “feel” when your body constantly believes that it’s fleeing.

As soon as the stress slowly leaves your body again then your ability to feel, to really feel what happens in your body and with your emotions, will slowly return.

The feelings will come back all depending on how long you’ve lived with your stress for. The longer you have lived with it, the longer it can also take to fully remove the stress from your body.

Can you treat stress with sex?

See, I’m sure you can find a media sexologist or two who will be more than happy to tell you that yes, sure you can, but this is where I really need to be completely honest with you.

Can you treat stress with sexNo.

You sure cannot.

Under no circumstances.

Stress can be symptom treated with sex.

And by this I mean that for a short period of time you can escape from the stress in your mind and body and sex can give you the well-known shot of endorphins when you have an orgasm and not to mention the great feeling that fills up your body afterwards.

BUT this does not take away your stress and it does not take away what is actually releasing the stress in your everyday life.

So no, you CANNOT treat stress with sex, and especially not when the sex drive in most cases completely goes away if you are experiencing stress.

Because then you have to find your lust again before doing anything else and use energy getting turned on etc. And just doing this can be more or less of a task (and a stressful one too!) with stress in your body, soul, brain and heart.

Physical touches can fight stress and increase your sex drive

What can be really nice and what actually takes the top off the stress hormone Cortisol in your body for a very short period of time is a physical touch and not necessarily sex.

We’re talking about something like a good massage where all you do is receive and don’t worry about giving, performing or being productive. When you are receiving a massage and can relax (and if you are experiencing stress it can EASILY take up to 20 minutes before you can just let go and receive and enjoy it), a hormone called Oxytocin is released, some people call it the love hormone. A bit cheeky.

Physical touches can fight stress and increase your sex driveThis hormone fights the stress hormone Cortisol. The love hormone simply eats away the stress hormone, you almost want to say: ”And once again, love wins!” – for a few hours anyway.

By being aware of this means that you can help the stress hormones out of your body by having a regular massage as a part of your stress treatment.

And no, it shouldn’t be a physiologic muscle massage but a gentle massage which will support the body’s production of Oxytocin.

It can be a Thai oil massage (No, this is NOT the one where they actually walk on you), a sensual massage (you can easily have this and still keep your knickers on), a lava rock massage, a relaxing massage or a tantric massage (Again, you can have one of these without it being sexual).

It is all about making it nice, quiet and comfortable for yourself and that you both during the massage but also after can feel yourself being relaxed.

In many cases, you will notice a physical change both during and afterwards, and if you can’t do that, then it’s all a big waste of your dollars and then you ought to move on to the next masseur. The massage will not only kill some of your stress hormones but also help you “feel” your body and to be really cheeky “get into your body”.

And while you’re there you’ll find it easier to feel your sex drive too and what else is going on in your body, such as tiredness. So don’t be surprised if you feel a sudden urge to sleep and then after a good sleep you feel your sex drive like you haven’t felt it for what seems like decades.

Again, this is just a signal from your body saying this was SO good for me, more of that please!

This is how you prevent stress as a couple

This is how you prevent stress as a coupleIf you feel that one of you are heading down the stress-stairs, then it’s so important to stop quickly and put into words what is happening and what you are each experiencing.

It is SO important that you have this conversation EVEN THOUGH a talk like this can be really hard. You just have to do it and get over how difficult it may be.

You are actually preventing stress as a couple by constantly knowing what is going on and keeping each other in the loop.

Make sure you have a good dialogue in your day to day life, make sure the emotional connection is good and that you can feel that you each care for each other.

The better “friends” and “boyfriend/girlfriend” you are, the easier it’ll generally be to feel if the other one isn’t doing that well.

If you have no clue how the other person is feeling in your day to day life you will be even slower in detecting that something is wrong and that there actually IS some things that your partner is dealing with and is having a hard time with.

So talk to each other and keep having a respectful dialogue.

Is your partner stressed?

Is your partner stressed?If you have a suspicion that your partner is stressed then don’t ask about stress as the first thing.

Rather ask them how they are doing and listen, listen, listen, listen and listen.

What is your partner experiencing, what thoughts are they having, which emotions are involved?

If you start of by asking about stress you can quickly be met with a cold shoulder or a rejection or even to be met with crankiness and accusations.

If you ask them how they are and “it’s been so long since we’ve actually talked to each other and I’m actually missing you”, then the results of this talk will often be significantly better.

Maj Wismann tells - This is why your sex drive is affected by stressThrough the answers you get you will often be able to figure out whether your partner actually considers themselves stressed or merely “busy and hung up” for a period of time.


 Read more about libido, stress and sex drive?

The truth about libido and how to get it back <——-


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  1. Bev

    What you are describing makes so much sense, especially the depiction of the pursuing tiger.
    How about a couple in their late 50`s reacting to major stress in their lives over a period of time. The husband reacts with increased sex drive and the wife is totally opposite 🙁 They have a good, open, understanding relationship so the stress and resulting problems have been discussed. But that is not helping solve the problem of the husband`s physical needs and the wife feels guilty which is causing her more stress!! Right now she feels like she is running in circles with a tiger in pursuit!

  2. Sara

    This makes so much sense. My boyfriend and I are in college going for difficult majors, and we are in a constant state of stress. His sex drive is almost non-existent, whereas mine is higher than ever.

  3. Sylvia

    Yes it makes sense, but don’t rule out high sex drive in women. I’ve ready plenty accounts of just that. I experienced that during 9/11. For six months my sex drive was like that of a 17 year old male! I hated it and so did my husband of the time. I went to an acupuncturist and it relieved it. I’m not sure there is a cure for it except to find ways of alleviating the stress. I’m sure in my case, my stress was gradually lessened by the passing months and eventually I was back to normal. Not a fun time at all.


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