How stress can affect your body

Although we all deal with a certain level of stress and anxiety day to day, many of us face larger amounts of stress and anxiety that can be difficult to manage.

While we’d love to be able to rid our lifestyles of stress entirely (if only we could!), we must all expect a level of stress through work, our personal lives and everything in between.

However, stress can affect our bodies in many different ways, with some of us feeling the effects more than others.

How do stress and anxiety affect our bodies?

Although stress and anxiety are both pretty common, their effect on our bodies can differ hugely. Stress is how our bodies react to certain changes, requiring an adjustment or response to maintain functioning normally. These may be physical, emotional or mental responses.

Often, these stresses originate from our working lives and personal lives. With anxiety frequently occurring alongside feelings of stress. Anxiety itself is commonly described as feelings of worry, uncertainness and nervousness.

Some feelings of stress may affect us temporarily, these can be directly related to a specific situation. For example, a deadline or house move. These feelings may somewhat disappear after the initial stressful period has passed. Whereas anxiety is more than feeling stressed or worried.

Feelings of stress and anxiety can cause havoc with our bodies and minds, including our skin, gut health, libido and social interaction. The way in which stress and anxiety affect our bodies can differ hugely from one man to another.

How does stress affect a man sexually?

Wondering ‘does stress affect sex?’ is a common question amongst many men. When in fact, there are two ways in which stress and libido can interact.

Also Read: 11 simple habits to improve sexual performance

Stress can affect sex in the form of a spike in sex drive, but it can also cause a dip in your libido too.

From a mental wellbeing perspective, feelings of stress and anxiety may increase your libido, because:

  • When you are experiencing stress and anxiousness, you may crave to be looked after and feelings of safety, which come with physical intercourse and intimacy
  • Sometimes our minds lead us to believe we want something more when we know we aren’t potentially allowed to have it. If you’re stressed or anxious, you could seek something you ‘can’t have’, seeking more sex
  • When we’re feeling incredibly stressed or anxious, we’ll often seek anything as a form of distraction – sex can be a welcomed pleasure that takes our mind away from any worries or stressful feelings, at least temporarily

However, this isn’t always the case. Stress and erectile dysfunction are commonly linked, with stress and anxiety causing your libido to dip.

When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, you may feel caught up with worry. When you cannot shake this feeling or avoid these thoughts, sex may be the last thing on your mind. Believe it or not, your mind plays a huge role in your sexual desire.

When we have trouble relaxing, it can be even harder to.. Get hard

Can stress cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?

When it comes to problems in the bedroom, erectile anxiety is a common worry in many men. When we struggle to get hard – even just the once – it can then lead to further anxiety around it happening again.

While erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages, it is typically more common in older men. However, ED can occur in all age groups as a result of stress and anxiety.

It’s important to note the differences between health-orientated erectile issues and psychological erectile dysfunction – such as stress and sexuality concerns, versus heart health.

Stress and erectile dysfunction are a common concern for those in stressful work environments. In this instance, stress feels uncontrollable.

Also Read: How to get your energy back…

While the body plays a key role in helping you achieve an erection, through the nervous system, muscles, blood vessels, hormones and even emotions – stress can cause erectile dysfunction by increasing the production of stress hormones.

Stress and libido

Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling stressed, I don’t feel particularly sexy. 

When we experience high levels of stress or anxiety, our libido can take a hit. Stress and anxiety have the potential to trigger the production of stress hormones and decreased testosterone, which plays a significant role in your sex drive.

While many men are led to believe that all you need is blood flow to get hard, stress and anxiety can affect the signals between your brain and penis – resulting in ED.

From a physical viewpoint, stress can impact libido. When our body kicks into fight or flight mode, our bodies respond to an immediate threat. This is due to the activation of our sympathetic nervous system, with our brain unconsciously looking to protect us.

During this response, we experience a faster heart rate and deep breathing, allowing us to tackle the immediate threat head-on. This also means that some bodily functions are inhibited – such as digestion or getting an erection. Once we overcome the immediate threat, our bodies return to normal.

However, if we enter the fight or flight mode frequently during chronic stress, it can affect our libido. This is how stress can cause erectile dysfunction.

So, how does stress affect sex?

Well, this can happen in many ways. Since feelings of stress and anxiety can impact your self-esteem and your libido, your desire to jump in the sack can be diminished.

Of course, the physical action of gaining an erection can be affected by stress, as we previously mentioned.

As we previously mentioned, during fight or flight mode, our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) becomes active, helping our bodies manage ongoing stress. This ongoing stress can cause erectile dysfunction, and a dip in our sex drive. Activation of the HPA axis results in the release of cortisol (the stress hormone), raising blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Also Read: Myths about erectile dysfunction [Debunked]

In turn, these responses – in particular the release of cortisol – inhibits testosterone, which is responsible for sex drive. Plus, this may contribute to blood flow changes, impacting erections.

How to overcome stress and erectile dysfunction

Stress and anxiety are a natural part of life, which most of us will experience during our lifetime. However, how we manage these situations can impact how our bodies respond.

Whether you’re single or in a long term relationship, stress and libido can be a common concern. To help overcome stress and erectile dysfunction, speak openly with your partner to overcome any underlying issues and worries. Encourage understanding by talking to through any concerns, which in turn will help alleviate sexual anxiety.

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