4 Sexual Side Effects Of Stress

They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but we should probably add stress to that list. Being overworked, overtired, and anxious can negatively impact every aspect of your mental and physical health, and how stress impacts your sex life is particularly troubling.

The benefits of getting it on are well documented. Sex prompts the release of oxytocin and endorphins which make you feel like a million blissed out bucks. Sex also increases your metabolism which helps your body flush out toxins, and it even makes you more focused and creative, according to some studies. But what happens when the one thing that might help you de-stress is too impacted by stress to happen at all?

From headaches, dry skin, and stomach problems to a weakened immune system, stress takes its toll on your health. On top of all that, there are the specifically sex-related side effects that stress also brings to the party. So if you don't want to see a dip in your love life, it's vital to start figuring out ways to calm and center your body and mind, because none of the following sex-related stress side effects are much fun:

1. Vaginal Dryness

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When your juices stop flowing down below, it's cause for concern. Sometimes, the problem is purely psychological, but it can also be exacerbated by an STI, a chemical irritant, or hormonal fluctuation. If you've been having a rough time, the culprit for your newly found need for copious amounts of lube may just be stress.

Luckily, lube is awesome and widely available, so if you are mega stressed, just make sure to have some on hand when getting down to business. You might just find that that sex you're having — however dryer than usual — may help you de-stress overall.

2. Diminished Sex Drive

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Another thing to go when you're under the gun from stress is your desire for sex. Increased stress over long periods of time means an increase of cortisol in your system, which eventually suppresses the hormones that would normally make you horny. Sure, sex might help you feel better, but if you don't feel like having sex there's no benefit. I mean, who has the psychic space to think of pleasure when money problems, relationship drama, or work issues are on your mind 24/7? Again, de-stressing is not only good for your overall health, but it can also have a positive impact on your sex drive.

3. Decreased Ability To Get Pregnant

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If you're in the market to start conceiving, stress lowers your ability to become pregnant. A recent study by the University of Louisville found that women who reported feeling more stressed when ovulating were about 40 per cent less likely to conceive during that month compared to months when they were less stressed. Although everyone should attempt the practice of self-care to decrease their stress levels, wannabe moms in particular could really use a calmer state of mind if they want to speed up the parent process.

4. Lowered Self-Esteem

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High stress is also correlated with lowered self-esteem, which impacts your sex drive in various ways. An increase of cortisol in your body can lead to a suppressed immune system and metabolism which can make you feel sluggish and depressed — and the last thing you want to do is sex it up when you're feeling lethargic and not at peak energy. And sometimes, feeling overwhelmed just makes you beat up on yourself even more, because why can't you be all zen and chill like everyone else? (Newsflash: hardly anyone is actually all zen and chill all the time, but there are still lots of ways to approximate that state of being and slowly start to unwind.)

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (4)