The lights are perfectly dim, and the song is appropriate – you have set the atmosphere right for you and your partner to get into bed and enjoy. Suddenly, a wave of unnecessary thoughts hits you and you can’t help but succumb to anxiety. When you have anxiety, it usually follows you around. It affects your emotional, mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, it creeps its way under the covers in bed when you are trying to “get it on” with your partner. In short, anxiety can have an adverse effect on your sex life.
Anxiety can trigger feelings such as panic, fear, tension and uneasiness, all of which dominate many aspects of your life, including your thinking. It can get in the way of your romantic feelings too, regardless of how badly you want it. Psychiatrist Dr Rashi Agarwal recently took to her Instagram to share the side effects of anxiety on your sex life.
How does anxiety affect your sex life?
Living with anxiety means that you are living with it wherever you go and whatever you do. As it happens, sex and anxiety are not exactly best friends. Dr Agarwal writes that your mood has a direct impact on your libido and how you communicate with your partner. Studies have also found a link between sex anxiety and how it affects you. It triggers feelings of fear, uneasiness, restlessness and tension that impact the way you behave and think before, during, and after sex.
A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that women with generalised anxiety disorder reported worse sexual functioning as compared to women who didn’t have the condition. Studies have found that having anxious feelings or being diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder might make it difficult to connect with your spouse and have fun. Dr Agarwal shares the ways anxiety affects your sex life:
- Not being able to have an erection
- Premature ejaculation or delayed orgasms
- Vaginismus – the reflexive response of the body to the fear of any sort of vaginal penetration
- Reduced sexual desire
- Increased tendencies of avoiding intimacy
Signs that anxiety is affecting your sex life
Now that you know how anxiety can affect your sexual life, you should also know the signs so that you can address the problem before its too late:
1. Lack of self-confidence
People with anxiety can develop low levels of confidence and feel self-conscious about their bodies and how they look. A lack of self-confidence can affect your sex life for the worst.
2. Avoiding intimacy
Do you feel anxious when you come close to your partner? Having sex might make someone more anxious, especially if they have been through some trauma in the past, suggests a study published in the journal Sexual Medicine Society of North America. If you have had a bad sexual experience, you should talk to a mental health professional who will guide you through it.
3. Less or no communication with your partner
Whether it is sex or otherwise, communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. Discuss how you are feeling to allow your partner to help you out. It is important to talk to your loved ones when you are feeling anxious.
4. Not being able to orgasm
Have you been unable to have an orgasm? One of the signs your anxiety is taking over your sex life is having fewer orgasms. Studies have shown that experiencing anxiety can make it more difficult for you to have an orgasm. Since anxiety creates a lot of unnecessary thoughts, it can distract you from feelings of arousal. It is best to talk to a doctor if you have been experiencing this.
5. Low libido
Nothing will affect you the way feeling anxious affect your sex life. When you have so much on your mind, how would you be able to get in the mood of having sex?
6. Certain medication
Have you been taking medication for anxiety? Studies have shown that taking certain medications can have a negative effect on your sex life. As per a study published in Harvard Health, medicines like antidepressants can lead to a lack of sexual desire and low libido.
What can you do to overcome anxiety?
Here are some ways that help you overcome anxiety, as suggested by Dr Agarwal:
- Speak to a professional and get help.
- Talk to your partner about your problem so that they understand and help you.
- Consult a doctor and get a proper evaluation done to know how you can prevent it.
- Make sure you are taking therapies like CBT and proper medication if you know you suffer from anxiety.
- You can also opt for alternate therapies that can help manage anxiety.