Fifty Shades of Sex & Stress?

Unless you are living underneath a rock, I am sure you are familiar with all the fuss and conversation surrounding the best selling erotic novel titled: “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  Since most of us are not dating or married to the likes of Christian Grey, (thank heavens!) – our sex life resembles absolutely nothing like that of Ana & Christian. Rather than being whisked away on a private jet for sexual “escapades”, our lives are consumed with the mundane responsibilities of working, taking care of our kids, running our households and quite frankly, the list goes on and on.  These responsibilities often leaving us feeling more stressed than sexed.  As a matter of fact, research shows stress is pretty high up there as one of the top reasons for why couples are not having sex!  So I thought it would be important to identify some stressors in our lives that might be getting in the way of, or actually completely killing, our sex drive – and what you can do about it!

Let’s face it ladies – nobody multi-tasks better than we do – and some people thrive under stressful conditions – but being in the mood for sex and/or feeling sexy when stressed out is not compatible for any super woman. 

If pressed, I am sure I could identify fifty shades of stress – but for the sake of brevity, here are five common stressors that decrease or eliminate one’s sex drive and what you can do to eliminate and/or minimize them.  (Remember, some of these sex drive killers have nothing to do with how you feel about your partner – what a sense of relief!) 

Stressor #1: Prescription Medication – many prescription drugs have the side effect of decreasing one’s sex drive, especially the commonly prescribed anti-depressant medication Prozac. Other classifications of drugs that have loss of libido as a side-effect include:  chemotherapy, antihistamines, blood pressure medication (Lipitor), some oral contraceptives and ant-HIV medications.

Solution: Talk to your prescribing physician and ask them if they can change the medication you are on for one that offers the same medical benefits – minus the side effect of a decrease in libido. 

Stressor #2:  Parenting – the kids are exhausting you! If you have a new baby in the home, that sweet little bundle of joy requires what feels like 24/7 attention. Or maybe you have toddlers running around who possess an inordinate amount of energy – or school-aged children that need to be chauffeured around – or maybe teenagers – whose mood swings makes a roller coaster ride feel smooth. The demands of parenting can cause you to run out of steam by the end of the day!

Solution: Get a babysitter or family member and get out of the house for a day, an overnight and/or long weekend.  Do it – even though you might feel too exhausted to arrange this – consider it to be like exercise. You don’t usually feel like doing it, but once you do, you are so glad you did. 

Stressor # 3:  Poor Body Image – Most of us don’t look like we did when we were 21 years old – but we lament this fact and let it get in the way of how we feel about not only our bodies but ourselves as well. In other words, poor body image promotes poor self-esteem. Poor self-esteem makes us feel unlovable – and feeling unlovable lowers our sex drive.

Solution: Your partner fell in love with you – your heart and soul.  A few pounds gained throughout the years do not diminish the value of who you are in the heart of your lover.  (Chances are they don’t look 21years old anymore either). If you have gained a few pounds over the years, (and who hasn’t?) you might consider adding exercise to your daily routine – even if it takes the form of simply walking the stairs in your office instead of riding the elevator.  Do whatever you need to do so you can begin to feel better about your body image.  And whatever you do – please remember – the images of the models on the cover of all those magazines are air-brushed and touched up until the cows come home.  Please don’t think “real” women look like that. I sure don’t know any that do!!

Stressor # 4: Alcohol – yes, alcohol has a reputation for reducing one’s inhibitions when it comes to sex, but alcohol is also a common cause for numbing your sex drive.  (FYI – your partner might not be in the mood for getting it on with someone who is intoxicated.)

Solution: Keep the alcohol to what is considered to be a reasonable amount for what your body can tolerate. A slobbering drunk isn’t sexy anywhere –including the bedroom.  Hey, I’m not saying you can’t have a drink or two – just don’t imbibe to the extreme.

Stressor # 5: Lack of sleep – whether this results from worry, insomnia, or sleep apnea, sleep deprivation creates body fatigue.  And fatigue zaps the energy you need for sex – interfering with your sex drive. 

Solution: Make it your priority to get enough sleep.  If you have a medical condition that you think might be interfering with your sleep, see a physician.  If you are sleep deprived because you love to watch late night TV- tivo your shows and watch them another time. Sleep deprivation is one of the most under-rated stressors of our lives – do whatever it takes to get the minimum amount of sleep your body requires.

So as you can see, a low sex drive might be the result of stressors that have nothing to do with how you feel about your partner.

Rekindle Romance and Happiness in Your Relationship,

Dr. Patty Ann

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