How Stress Can Impact Sexual Performance

For some people, sex is a great relaxation technique. However, sometimes stress and anxiety can get in the way of what should be a pleasurable experience. You can address some of these issues in the short term, but it’s crucial to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you’re struggling with chronic stress. In this article, we’ll look at a couple of ways that stress can negatively manifest itself in your sex life.

Lower Libido

One of the most significant ways stress can affect your sex life is by making you want it less. You can’t have great sex if you’re not having any at all!

Stress can affect your libido in a variety of ways. Physiologically speaking, stress releases cortisol and epinephrine in your brain, decreasing your sex drive at higher levels. If you become too stressed, your brain can begin to tap into your sex hormones to meet its need for cortisol production. When your brain does this, you often become less interested in sex as your brain associates the chemicals with stress instead

Moreover, stress can cause you to turn to “self-medicating” habits that can decrease your libido. Taking up smoking or excessive alcohol consumption can affect your sex drive and cause you to have less sex.

Erectile Dysfunction

Stress can also lead to erectile dysfunction (ED) issues. In the same way, unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking can lower your libido and cause ED. 

Alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction happens when you’ve had a few drinks, and it causes your penis to stop responding to sexual contact. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning alcohol causes the brain to slow down and stop sending the right messages and enough blood flow to the penis.

Additionally, stress can cause temporary, psychological ED. If the bedroom is a place of significant pressure, you might get some stereotypical “performance anxiety,” where no matter how much you want to, you fail to achieve an erection. Such instances only perpetuate the initial stress sending you into a spiral of frustration. Psychological ED is a frequent issue in younger men, who feel like they shouldn’t be struggling with ED at their age. 

If your stress is only short-term, your erectile dysfunction issues might resolve on their own. However, if you’re dealing with chronic or long-term stress, your doctor might prescribe you an affordable ED medication like generic Cialis. If your stress is already related to erectile dysfunction, medication can help you perform when you want to and hopefully start to break the cycle.

Vaginal Dryness

While male performance anxiety is frequently a topic of discussion, women can also deal with bedroom-related issues. 

If you are going through a period of stress, you might notice you can’t self lubricate as you usually would. In some cases, this can lead to vaginal dryness in situations where you are aroused. In the same way reduced blood flow prevents erections, stress can also cause dryness in your vagina. For these cases, consider using a personal lubricant like Coconu’s Water-Based Personal Lubricant

More commonly, stress can prevent you from being aroused entirely. High stress can keep you distracted from sex altogether, and high cortisol levels can cause symptoms like increased vaginal discharge or pain during sex. These adverse effects, especially the latter, can make sex less appealing and increase intimacy-related stress.

Bedroom Distractions

If your brain isn’t focused on sex, you’ll have a worse time in the bedroom. Many of stress’s physiological effects on sex can be boiled down to how it takes your brain off of the task at hand. You might be focused on the cause of your stress, be it work or performance-related. Sometimes, stress keeps you from being in the moment, and small sounds or irritants can keep you from being present. 

If you’re struggling with focus, there are a couple of different things you can do. One idea is to play music during sex. Music can shut out some outside distractions and provide a beat to move to. Beforehand, try working with your partner to create a playlist with songs that have different beats per minute. Curating the playlist together can give a moment of intimacy and create some structure to your sex.


If you deal with chronic stress, the last thing you want is to affect your sex life. However, chronic stress can lead to some sexual dysfunction or lifestyle changes that impact your sexual performance.