Stop work ruining your sex life

Stop work ruining your sex life

Stop work ruining your sex life

Your question ‘I work long hours and have frequent business trips. I’m seeing less of my girlfriend and when we do meet I’m often knackered. How can I stop this affecting our sex life?’
Patrick, via

First of all, you need to assess whether it’s truly necessary for you to be working late so frequently.

Sometimes it will be unavoidable, but use careful time management and you might be able to make more time for the missus.

To avoid the daily grind completely obliterating your, er, nightly grind, be mindful of the three rules below, and keep things sexcellent even when your diary’s fuller than a Gypsy bride’s skirts.

Maintain communication It’s vital to keep your other half from feeling your job has reduced her to an afterthought.

‘All women want to feel desired and kept in the loop,’ says Rachael McCoy, sex and relationships coach at Erotica. ‘Let her know you’re aware of all the time you’re spending away, and that she’s on your mind.

’ Seems simple, but it’s easy to forget when you’re concentrating on spreadsheets instead of bedsheets.

Sexting is an instant way to connect with your lover while you’re chained to your workstation. You can’t afford to get distracted though, so don’t start a long conversation that might also leave her feeling deflated if you’re forced to disappear into a meeting right as things get steamy. Start your SMS with something , ‘Insanely busy, so I’ll just say this…’

Don’t set either of you up for a disappointing fall by promising an ambitious passion session later if you’ll be groggy. Instead, frame promises of realistic sex in positive terms – tell her you can’t wait to have a filthy quickie, or just to hold her.

Set up a confidential wish list on erotic toy site Send your lady an invite, tell her to add whatever turns her on and say you’ll buy one chosen item as a surprise. She can get excited perusing goodies for as long as suits her, and you’re free to get back to the graft while still being the active instigator of imaginative sex.

Exchanging intimate self-portraits or putting on a private webcam show can be an invaluably intense way to stay intimately in touch while away on business. Tune into next month’s column for a full guide.

Make the most of your time Greet her with a deep, passionate kiss. And keep on kissing. It’s not physically demanding when you’re tired, and it always feels great.

Next I suggest running a bath and hopping in with your partner. When you’re giggling in the warm suds, stress evaporates and you can catch up while getting clean… and wet.

Give it a go – it’s therapeutic, energising, and quickly snaps you work mode.

You could even involve some popping candy – it might sound childish, but it explodes in the water (and your mouth as you kiss), and is so silly that it help dissolve any tension that’s built up during your time apart.

Too pooped for sex at night? Keep mints by the bed to combat icky morning breath, set your alarm early and do it in the morning. Apps that track sleep patterns can rouse you at the best point in your slumber cycle to avoid the wrong king of rude awakening.

Try sharing your morning shower. It will hardly interrupt your schedule and sends you both on your commute with a smile.

Sex expert Midori places emphasis on how erotic the smallest of touches can be. Just want to flop down on the couch when you get in? Spoon her instead and give her a micro-massage, tracing circles on the back of her neck, or stroking her body lightly.

Plan special time together One idea to get you started: Chelsea-based couture lingerie boutique Petits Bisous hires out its boudoir-style lower floor to couples, so you can sip champagne while your lady models designer suspenders for you. It’s pricy, but what have you been working all that overtime for?!

In general, let your partner know having less time doesn’t mean you don’t care about them. Treat them a princess at all times and they will always be more willing to surprise you with sex when you get in from work or be up for a cheeky morning session.

Got a question for Alix? Email her at or tweet her @AlixFox

Look out for Alix’s new magbook, ‘The Missing Kink’, out this August.


What’s Ruining Your Sex Life?

Stop work ruining your sex life

Sexuality invites us to be in the moment, connected to our body, our senses, and to another person.

Yet having a “critical inner voice” sounding off in our minds during sex is a little having an extra person in the room critiquing everything from desirability to performance.

These critical inner voices take us the experience, remove us from our bodies and leave us disconnected from our partner, robbing us of the precious aspects of sexuality.

It’s probably no surprise to hear that research has shown that having higher self-esteem and a more positive body image is correlated with increased sexual satisfaction. On the other hand, negative thoughts toward ourselves heighten our stress levels, which can decrease sexual satisfaction.

One recent study showed that measures of self-esteem, autonomy, and empathy were positively associated with sexual pleasure, while other research has revealed that people with low self-esteem may also perceive their partners in a more negative light.

What all this tells us is that our ability to see ourselves and our partner through kind, empathic eyes has a big impact on how much we enjoy sex.

One of the main culprits guiding us into a negative headspace during sex is our critical inner voice. The critical inner voice is a destructive thought process that sabotages our sexual satisfaction.

The extent to which we listen to this “voice” correlates with our feelings of self-consciousness, insecurity, and shame. It can also lead to self-limiting, or even self-destructive, behavior.

  While most of us know that the buzzing sound of our self-critical thoughts can be a major buzzkill when it comes to sex, we aren’t always fully aware of how much this voice affects us.

Years ago, when researching for the book Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, my colleagues and I interviewed individuals and couples about the critical thoughts they experienced around sexuality. We found that many people had critical inner voices about themselves or their partner or about sex in general before, during, and after sex.

On the one hand, we found the presence of such thoughts to be expected and relatable. After all, a person’s sexuality is very personal, and it can feel fairly vulnerable to be open to another person.

On the other hand, we were struck by the degree of cruelty in the voices people expressed as well as the painful emotions that often accompanied  them.

One common way people can be very unkind to themselves and their sexuality is in the critical inner voices they have toward their bodies. Common examples I’ve heard include:

  • You look terrible naked. It’s humiliating to take off your clothes.
  • Your breasts are too big (or too small).
  • Your penis is too small, she will not be satisfied. She’s going to laugh at you.
  • You look so old. She isn’t attracted to you anymore.
  • He’s going to see how ugly you really are.

A lot of critical inner voices surface in anticipation of being sexual. Many people have described having thoughts :

  • Do you really think he is attracted to you? Why would he be?
  • You’re going to be so awkward. She’s going to lose interest.
  • He won’t you anymore if you sleep with him.
  • Why are you thinking about sex again? Are you some kind of pervert?
  • Watch out, he’s probably just using you.
  • You’re going to embarrass yourself.
  • She’d rather be with someone else.
  • You shouldn’t pursue sex. You’ll just be rejected.
  • It’s gross to want sex.
  • You won’t know what to do.

Many people have critical inner voices during sex that remove them from being in the moment. Mean attacks start to creep in that are directed toward themselves, their performance, their partner, or toward sex in general that stop them from enjoying the experience.

  • You’re not making her feel good.
  • You should be doing this or that.
  • He’s probably turned off by you.
  • You’re not feeling enough. What’s wrong with you?
  • You’re so bad at this.
  • She doesn’t seem that excited.
  • You’re doing something wrong.
  • You won’t be able to finish.
  • You’re going to finish too quickly.
  • You’re not going to have an orgasm.
  • Don’t show him/her what you want. You’ll look a freak.
  • Why can’t he/she tell what you want?
  • He/she thinks you’re terrible at this.
  • He/she is so awkward (or insensitive).
  • Can’t he tell you’re not feeling anything?
  • She is so tense, what’s wrong with her?

These kinds of thoughts make sex far less enjoyable. For one thing, they take us the free flow of the experience and causes us distress, but they also disconnect us and sometimes even alienate us from our partner.

Oftentimes, when one person starts to listen to their critical inner voice during sex, their partner notices a change. The sign of one person seeming distracted or slightly less enthusiastic can then trigger the other person’s critical inner voice.

“Wait, what changed? What did you do wrong?”

Many couples describe how once they start listening to their critical inner voice, sex becomes more mechanical, not a shared personal experience. However, even when they’re able to ward off their inner critic during sex, they may notice voices creeping in after sex. After being sexual, people have described having thoughts :

  • You didn’t feel enough.
  • He/she didn’t seem that into you.
  • You were too excited. He/she probably thinks you’re desperate.
  • You’re so gross/perverted.
  • He/she’s not going to want to be with you again.
  • So what if you felt good, this one time? It won’t be that way next time.

Whatever our specific voices may be in relation to sex, the solution remains the same. To feel free and ourselves in relation to our sexuality, we have to challenge this inner critic. Here are some steps you can take to start to challenge your own inner critic:

1) Write the “voices” down: The first step is to write down all of the negative thoughts you have in relation to your sexuality.

These can be thoughts about your body, your performance, your partner, or sex in general. When you do this, you should write your voices in the second person, as if someone is saying them to you.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just bad at sex,” you would write, “You are just bad at sex.”

2) Explore the roots of your attitudes: Oftentimes, when people start listing what their voices say, more and more start to come to mind. It can feel being flooded with critical commentary. Sometimes, the attack will start specific, but as you continue writing, deeper, more rooted attitudes about sexuality start to surface.

For example, one woman started out by writing, “Sex is too complicated. It just isn’t for you.” As she got further into her list of voices, she wrote things , “Sex is dangerous. It’s dirty. You’re going to get a disease.

It’s gross to want sex. Good girls shouldn’t want sex.

” Although she wasn’t as aware of these critical inner voices in her present life, she recognized some of the thoughts as exact phrases her mother had said to her about sex when she was growing up.

Just our critical inner voices, our attitudes about sexuality often come from our past.

Whether they were direct things said to us, as in the case of the woman mentioned, or attitudes and beliefs we picked up on, these forces help mold our sense of our own sexuality.

Making connections to where our negative attitudes come from can help us separate these feelings from our past from our real point of view in the present.

3) Respond to each voice attack: After writing down your voices, you should go back to each and every attack and respond from a compassionate, realistic perspective. Try to talk to yourself the way you would a friend.

This time, write your responses in the first-person to identify these expressions as your true point of view. For example, if you wrote down the attack, “You are so awkward.

No one would want to be sexual with you,” you may write the response, “I may feel awkward when I’m listening to all these voices, but I’m actually a comfortable, affectionate person. When I’m relaxed, I how I am sexually.”

4) Discover your own attitude toward sex: As you peel away the overlays of your inner critic, try to have an open and welcoming attitude toward your real feelings about sex, whatever they may be. This is the time to let go of all the “should’s” and discover what you really enjoy and desire.

Try to have a curious, open, and nonjudgmental perspective toward yourself. Have self-compassion for any experiences that may have hurt you in relation to your sexuality. Do not let your inner critic convince you that you have to limit, restrict, or punish yourself those experiences. Remember your sexuality belongs to you.

It is yours to understand, explore, and enjoy.

5) Open up to your partner: If you’re in a trusting relationship, you may want to talk to your partner about how your critical inner voice attacks your sexuality. This may feel uncomfortable at first, but being open and vulnerable often inspires your partner to do the same and brings you both closer on a deeper level.

By sharing your insights and what’s going on in your head, you allow your partner to really know you and to understand the aspects of your sexuality that may have little to do with them. This may help them to not attack themselves as much in relation to their sexuality.

Talking openly in this way can benefit your relationship, but studies also show that couples who can get to be comfortable talking about sex actually enjoy sex more.

Kicking your critical inner voice the bedroom may seem easier said than done, but continuing to be aware of your voices and how they affect your sexuality is something that can benefit you throughout your life.

It can help you have more fun in casual situations and enjoy more lasting intimacy and closeness in a long-term relationship. Being alive to your sexuality is a practice in maintaining an important part of who you are.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to keep challenging your inner critic and exploring your own, real feelings about your sexuality.

To hear more from Dr. Lisa Firestone on the critical inner voice and sexuality, join her for the Webinar, “Finding Healthy and Satisfying Sexuality.”


3 Reasons Stress is Affecting Your Sex Drive and What to Do About It

Stop work ruining your sex life

Do you live a stressful life?

Have you ever wondered how it affects your sex drive?

If you’re stressed for extended periods of time, chances are your sex life will begin to suffer, which only adds to your to already high stress levels. Your mind is no longer focused on the things you need to get done, but instead on questions such as:

Where has my sex drive gone?

Why does it take me longer to get in the mood?

Why do I lose my focus?

Why am I having difficulties having an orgasm?

Myths do more harm than good

Let’s be honest, people tend to keep stress to themselves. And the thing is, if you manage to muster up the courage to talk to someone about what you’re experiencing, you may find that their response only increases your anxiety about your frustrating sex life.

I’ve heard many myths about stress and sex over the years working with more than 1,000 individuals in my private practice. Here are three of the most common ones.

  1. If stress affects your romantic feelings for your partner, you may as well get divorced.
  2. Once your sex drive disappears, it doesn’t come back
  3. If your partner doesn’t desire you because they’re stressed, this means they don’t love you anymore.

These myths are devastating, because as soon as you convince yourself that “the damage is done,” then what’s really left but to throw in the towel? Give up? Admit defeat? You end up either surrendering to a passive attitude, where you don’t look for help, or worse, you file for divorce.

This is why it’s extremely important to seek proper guidance and learn how stress affects your sex drive. Familiarising yourself with the ins and outs makes it easier for you to navigate through these problems as a couple. One thing is absolutely certain: the stressed partner is not the only one who suffers.

Why stress affects your sex drive

If partners can’t manage stress as a team, the relationship suffers. Here are three ways stress affects your sex drive.

The two nervous systems
Human beings have two nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is the accelerator and the parasympathetic nervous system is the brake. We use the accelerator when we experience difficulties and challenges in life.

Whenever this happens, our stress response (the accelerator) is released in our bodies. This happens physically: your heart rate increases, your palms get sweaty, you experience inner discomfort. All of these things are really just your body providing you with a shot of energy to either fight the problems or to run away from them.

As soon as the challenge has been dealt with, and the danger has passed, the accelerator will be relieved by the brake. Ah, another challenge has been solved. Now you can relax.


When we experience stress over a long period of time, it may actually feel as though our accelerator has gotten stuck. Our body is working overtime, all the time, and we never actually allow our brakes to kick in.

Our sexuality goes hand in hand with our brakes. Naturally, and biologically speaking, it does not make sense for us to enjoy an erotic touch or to lie around kissing our partner if our stress pedal is hitting the metal. Stress and sex drive do not mix. You simply cannot have a head full of 120 worries while also having great sex.

Your hormones change
When the accelerator has been in overdrive for a long period of time, you body will actually begin to produce more cortisol – this is known as “the stress hormone.

” The building blocks used in this process are the very same building blocks used to produce the male sex hormone testosterone.

Therefore, for most people with long-lasting stress symptoms, their testosterone production is reduced.

According to Norwegian doctor, psychiatrist, and clinical sexologist Haakon Aars, testosterone is the sex hormone with the greatest significance to sex drive in both men and women. This means that your sex drive decreases due to completely logical physiological reasons.

Closeness is replaced by absence
Your sexuality is not only affected by hormones, but also by social, relational, and psychological factors.

When the stress hormones kick in, closeness is replaced by absence. It is nearly impossible to be present – to listen and to be interested in the people around you – if you’re feeling stressed out.

It’s hard to deal with anyone but yourself.

The stress hormones pumping through your body are encouraging you to either fight or flight. This can even lead to you being aggressive towards your partner. You might start to snap at them or yell at them. The people you normally love having around you can suddenly feel a source of irritation because they demand time with you.

All of this doesn’t leave much room for closeness with your partner, and slowly but surely, the intimacy starts to fall away. As days turn to weeks, what you’re usually depositing into your Emotional Bank Account, as Dr. John Gottman calls it, becomes less and less.

When your presence and your intimacy fade away, and your aggression and irritation skyrockets, it’s only natural for insecurities to increase. In most cases, this equals a considerably lowered lust for intimacy and sexual contact.

What can you do?

When your sexuality is giving you a hard time, you need to address the underlying problem. Here is what I recommend that you do.

Talk to your partner about stress

Anyone can experience stress and there’s absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of. We’re all at risk of experiencing stress. Have a daily stress reducing conversation.

Decide to handle this as a team
The more of a team you are, fighting this stress together, the better. It will not only increase your sense of unity but also show you that this is something you were are able to get through together.

Accept that your sex drive will fluctuate
Your sex drive will be low sometimes and that’s okay. Accept that it might take a little while to get back into the swing of things.

This is perfectly normal and if you can accept this, you can still have a lovely sex life during this time too.

What you need to remember though is that it’ll take longer for your body to feel aroused, and you will need to focus on allowing the ‘brake nervous system’ to kick in.

Focus on activating your brake
The more you can do this, the more you’re actually fighting the stress itself. This is where cuddles and kisses, hugs, and other loving touch can help.

It simply forces the body to go from stress to relaxation, if you allow this. Kiss your stressed out partner a little bit more and hug them for 20 seconds longer.

You could even offer them a nice 30 minute massage etc.

How has stress affected your sex life? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

The Marriage Minute is a new email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Over 40 years of research with thousands of couples has proven a simple fact: small things often can create big changes over time. Got a minute? Sign up below.


Is Anxiety Ruining Your Sex Life?

Stop work ruining your sex life

Living with anxiety typically means it’s there wherever you go. It impacts our health—mentally, emotionally and physically.

So, that means you can’t escape it when it comes to the health of your relationship, including when you’re in the bedroom between the sheets. Anxiety can cause panic, fear, tension and uneasiness.

It can take over your thoughts and many areas of your life. Even when you love and care about someone, anxiety can stand in the way of romantic goals.

No two people experience mental health conditions exactly the same. But you should be aware of some generalities about anxiety and sex. Then, you can find ways to work with what’s going on with you.

Anxiety may impact your sex drive
Anxiety can cause lowered libido. When you’re anxious, you have higher levels of cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone).

High levels of cortisol can suppress the sex hormones that impact desire. You may have been in the mood earlier in the day. But once your anxiety kicks in, it can prevent you from being in the mood.

Find out about managing anxiety with self-care.

Anxiety can keep you from feeling confident about your body
It can be tough undressing in front of someone for the first time. When you have anxiety, you’re more ly to feel self-conscious and focus on your body’s “flaws.

” Women may be self-conscious about their body or a particular body part. For those with anxiety, that self-consciousness is raised even more.

Being self-critical and engaging in self-body shaming prevents these women from being able to be fully present emotionally and physically during sex. Is it stress or anxiety?

Anxiety can prevent you from being intimate
You may not want to be physically or emotionally close to your partner when you’re overwhelmed by panic.

That can be especially scary and complicating for a woman who has had past trauma. It can cause her body to shut down to the point that it can prevent enjoyment of the experience of sexual touching and sex.

Avoiding foreplay or sex can place a strain on your relationship.

Anxiety medications can decrease your interest in sex Its an unfortunate side effect of certain medications used to treat anxiety. The drugs (SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to prevent the condition from worsening may also decrease your libido.

Too much serotonin can decrease your libido and make it difficult to orgasm. If this is an issue, speak with your doctor. You may be able to have your dose adjusted or switch to a different medication.

Anxiety can make it more difficult to orgasm
Physical symptoms of anxiety tensed or clenched muscles, rapid breathing, lightheadedness and shallow breathing mean you can’t relax. You have increased production of stress hormones that make you feel on edge.

And that can all distract you from being able to climax. That means it can be difficult to experience pleasure and connect with your partner. 


The 5 Unexpected Ways Your Job Can Affect Your Sex Life, According To Experts

Stop work ruining your sex life

Despite what romantic comedies and Nicholas Sparks novels have tried to tell us, a good sex life takes some work.

These fictional depictions of love rarely factor in the complexities of real life, such as a healthy work-life balance, stress management, the dreaded dry spells — the list goes on.

As someone who's always had a pretty healthy sex life, I never expected something as mundane as a stressful job to affect me as much as it did.

I remember thinking it seemed silly for me to not be able to separate the pressures of my job from my happiness in my relationship.

, don't most people have sex to relieve their stress? Why couldn't I just be one of those people?

It turns out, though, my dilemma really isn't all that uncommon. High stress levels have been shown to affect your libido, and they can cause you to avoid intimacy with your partner.

David M. Ortmann, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who practices in both New York City and San Francisco, managed to perfectly sum up the relationship between stress and sex.

“Sex, no matter how powerful or creative, is often a fragile construct vulnerable to the arrows and slings (and increased cortisol levels) from other significant parts of our life,” he told Elite Daily.

Sex, no matter how powerful or creative, is often a fragile construct vulnerable to the arrows and slings (and increased cortisol levels) from other significant parts of our life.

Even though I never expected it to happen, my sex life was, indeed, not immune to the many arrows and slings that came with my past workplace. Here's how.

1. The urge to have sex just isn't there anymore

Sex became possibly the biggest afterthought of my life.

Seriously, I just never even thought about it most of the time. Not only were my weekends and evenings (AKA prime sexy time) being swallowed whole by the demanding responsibilities of my job, but even when I did find a little free time, I never thought about having sex anymore. 

Sexless weeks would just fly by, totally unbeknownst to me, but very-much-beknownst to my poor boyfriend, who found himself constantly wondering why his girlfriend wasn't sexually attracted to him anymore.

When the thought of sex did enter my mind, nothing stirred inside me. It truly felt my sex drive had entirely disappeared. 

Jennifer Uhrlass, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New York, said stress can definitely affect your sex drive.

She told Elite Daily,

When we are anxious or consumed with worry about something, it's very difficult for us to allow ourselves to be present/responsive in our relationships, which is an important factor in initiating and enjoying sexual experiences.

To say the least, I was definitely not fully present in my relationship for a solid seven months while working at this job.

2. Staying aroused and focusing on the moment becomes nearly impossible

No matter how much I willed myself into the mood and no matter how good the sex felt, my brain always managed to find a way to wander.

I worried about my performance at work. I worried about the next business trip I would have to take and how much money it would cost. I worried about changing my cat's litter.

I worried about worrying too much during sex.

Ortmann equates sex and work in some ways, as they both inherently relate to performance:

Work is about performance. Stress in that area affects other areas where we feel we are 'on.'No matter how well adjusted or erotically intelligent we are, sex is [also] a performance. It's ingrained. We are raised to view sex as a performance, something we are being judged, at least by ourselves, on.

Unfortunately, the very fact that I am a lady also puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to balancing stress with sexual desire.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sex Research, heterosexual women are less ly than both heterosexual and homosexual men to experience increased sexual desire when they're anxious or stressed.

Ugh. Let me tell you, nothing makes the vag dry up faster than finding yourself consumed with worry.

3. Masturbation goes out the window

This one surprised me the most.

I wouldn't say that I frequently engage in ~self-love~, but I certainly dabble in it. However, working this job pretty much made me forget about the very notion that I even could touch myself.

As with sex, the urge to masturbate was nonexistent, even though I frequently found myself alone at night in strange European hotel rooms while away on business trips.

Despite being unable to sleep from the toxic but very familiar combination of jet lag and stress, a little diddly-doo-da was, unfortunately, eons away from my mind.

4. Creativity becomes lost in the bedroom

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost five years now, so we're no strangers to the concept of things getting a little stale from time to time in the bedroom.

We've always managed to find ways to keep things interesting, and my SO certainly kept trying to do that, even though my vagina may as well have been super-glued shut for more than half a year.

I wanted so badly to be able to match his unyielding attempts at spontaneity when it came to our sex life, but I just couldn't seem to do it, no matter how hard I tried.

“From a therapeutic standpoint, stress (in overwhelming amounts) has the ability to rob us of our spontaneity, sense of fun, and curiosity,” Uhrlass said.

She also went on to say that many people actually find themselves desiring sex more when they're stressed, as a way to kind of relieve the pressure.

Too bad my libido decided it was a better idea to autopilot its way through nearly every sexual encounter I had, rather than at least try to mix things up a little bit.

5. You start lying to your partner when it comes to sex

This realization hurt me the most, and I can't even imagine how it made my boyfriend feel.

I fully recognized my total lack of sex drive, and I hated it so much that I basically tried to lie my way through the whole ordeal.

I would tell my partner I was in the mood to have sex, when I actually wasn't at all, and I would proceed to do the deed anyway with him.

Not only is it terrible that I lied to my boyfriend that, but I was doing such a huge disservice to myself and my emotions by forcing myself to have sex because being honest about everything was just too uncomfortable.

Uhrlass said true honesty and transparency about these types of issues “requires vulnerability, emotional maturity and a basic level of trust between two people to be able to share a more fragile part of yourself and risk rejection.”

She added,

People may choose to withhold some part of the truth for various reasons.I think one of the main reasons it might happen in relationships is because the person is afraid that what might be shared would be rejected, or they would be made to feel unacceptable by their partner in some way.I think what begins to become problematic is that these moments are a special opportunity to increase intimacy in a relationship but instead create further distance.

Now that I've come out on the other side of my toxic workplace, I've done just that: I've tried to close the gap between me and my SO by being totally upfront and honest about my sexual desires.

Believe me, just because a relationship has stood the test of time, it doesn't automatically mean there's not room for improvement.

Citations: Cortisol (You & Your Hormones), How Stress Affects a Relationship (, Individual Differences in the Effects of Mood on Sexuality: The Revised Mood and Sexuality Questionnaire (MSQ-R) (The Journal of Sex Research)


8 Effective Ways to Reclaim Your Sex Life During Depression

Stop work ruining your sex life

Over nearly my entire life, at least since going through puberty at an early age, there’s been a cold war brewing in my mind and body between sex, stress, and depression. There is a seemingly never-ending battle between my libido and the physical and hormonal effects of stress and depression.

5 Ways To Stay Sex Positive Even When You’re Depressed

My own depression would take me falling from the ecstatic highs of a healthy sex drive to frustrating lows that made me feel my body just flipped a dampening switch.

I also had those pesky libido reducing hormones that come out only when a woman becomes pregnant and has children. My depression and stress worsened over time, so about two years ago I delved into learning more about how stress and depression affect your ability to feel any interest in sex or even find it enjoyable.

I learned that depression releases hormones and chemicals that pretty much chase away your sex drive and even diminish your ability to enjoy sex when/if you finally get around to it.

And not only does depression release these chemicals that have a negative effect on you, but it also packages them along with negative thoughts. Mentally and physically, you can become your own worst enemy when it comes to sex.

There are two factors to look at when assessing depression’s effect on your sex drive

  1. How the neurotransmitters and hormones released by depression lower your libido.
  2. The mental state of mind in which your brain thinks you wanting or enjoying sex.

Stress and anxiety often increase significantly at the same time.

Research suggests that all this can trigger the release of hormones that can suppress your sex drive, in a way similar to how stressful situations release chemicals that produce the same reaction.

Basically, it’s the stress of the holidays — feeling overwhelmed, over-scheduled and stressed out by family, work or events which can be accompanied by severe depression — all year long.

Researchers have noticed that the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine have something to do with depression, but they’re still not exactly sure what or why.

Antidepressants work for some people because they regulate these neurotransmitters

  • Reuptake inhibitors (reuptake is when the released substance is reabsorbed) work to keep these chemicals in your body longer
  • SSRIs regulate serotonin reuptake and are the most common
  • SNRIs regulate serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake, while NDRIs regulate norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake (this category is only represented by one drug, Wellbutrin)
  • There are also SARIs, MAOIs, Tricyclics and Tetracyclics. I simply have no space here to go over them all, but each works in a different way to prevent reuptake

Of course, while medication may work for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone.

An even more disappointing fact is that while anti-depressants may make some feel people better, most of these suppress sex drive, so arousal and orgasm may remain difficult, if not downright impossible while taking medication.

When you experience stress and anxiety, your hormones, hypothalamus, adrenal cortex and pituitary gland all play a part in releasing hormones.

Some hormones, cortisol and adrenaline (or epinephrine), can be helpful to you in small doses, as they increase heart, blood pressure, and metabolic rates. Basically, part of your fight or flight response.

Cortisol suppresses low-priority functions that make you less effective in times of crisis to help you focus and save energy for things needed to survive. Cortisol will actually inhibit sex hormones. So depression is probably triggering reuptake of chemicals you need to feel better and once you add stress to the menu you are releasing chemicals that suppress your libido.

Welcome to my world, the magical world of stress + depression

On top of all this, you have the subjective issues that accompany depression, those things that you can’t really assign to a chemical or hormonal imbalance.

Depression comes with a reduced, or completely removed, ability to experience any kind of pleasure.

You simply stop enjoying everything, including sex

You may also experience other issues affecting your desire. People with depression may lose connection with their partners or feel no arousal with new partners due to their feelings of disconnection or their desire to withdraw from the world.

This can even mean the lack of physical touch of any kind, which results in the loss of certain chemical releases that accompany touch, especially prolonged touch such as hugging or kissing. (Hello oxytocin!)

Depression can also trigger anger or anxiety, both enemies of fun in the hormonal/chemical release and reuptake battlefield.

And anxiety, a stressor, can, in turn, deal out things such as a lack of sleep, an inability to concentrate, irritability, lack of energy and constant worry. These problems can then turn into highly negative thoughts about yourself and may keep you in a worst-case scenario mindset.

None of this is conducive to feeling sexy or fostering positive feelings about sex

A combination of these things puts a great strain on any relationship.

This may lead you into a nonstop cycle in which you feel depressed and so stop having sex, after which the lack of sex and intimacy creates tension and/or strife in your relationship, which then triggers more depression and stress, which keeps you from wanting or enjoying sex even more than you already didn’t, which triggers more anxiety/depression/stress, and on and on and on…

7 Crazy Things That Happen To Your Mood When You Stop Having Sex

It can be a frightening non-stop carousel of negative emotions and consequences, but working on your depression and trying to your remove stressors can help.

Here are 8 ways to go about doing so:

  1. Talk to your partner and your doctor about ways to minimize these effects.
  2. Taking time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day can really help.
  3. Practice meditation or meditative breathing to help calm you and increase the amount of oxygen you’re receiving.
  4. Take a look at your diet, as poor choices can actually decrease your sex drive. Watching what you eat and daily exercise (as little as 20-30 minutes a day) can decrease the effects of depression and stress, which can then lead to an increase in desire.
  5. Find time to connect with your partner without the stress of sexual performance involved. Hugs, simple kisses, even just holding hands can help to release those feel good chemicals.
  6. Sometimes, attempting to have the sex you want, even when your brain tells you it’s not interested sparks your body to overrule your mind.
  7. Talk these ideas over with your partner and see if you can both come up with some ideas that might work for you.
  8. If you don’t have a partner, look for these connections elsewhere with family, friends or at a local cuddle party.

Non-sexual touch can help you feel more connected with yourself and others, while in turn luring your libido back so it will be there when needed

Note that a hug releases oxytocin after 20 seconds, so hold on a little longer if you can.

Making time to talk, share stories, have a laugh, make eye contact (another hormone releaser), and do anything that connects you with others and with your partner will help to undo some of the destructive effects of depression and stress.

Your brain is your largest sex organ but it can also be your biggest enemy

While the cold war may never actually end, you can remove yourself from the battlefield and remind your brain and body how to have sex in a way that makes you fulfilled and satisfied with your sex life again.

This guest article originally appeared on 8 Ways To ‘Trick’ Your Brain Into Sexy Thoughts When Struggling With Depression.

8 Effective Ways to Reclaim Your Sex Life During Depression