Stress affects the way the body produces, regulates, and maintains hormone function. Stress can be internal or external relating to emotional, physical, or mental circumstances that creates strain on the body. Internal stress can occur from acute illnesses, chronic diseases, and/or invasive medical procedures. External stress can occur from psychological, environmental, or mental situations. Stress, no matter the source, causes the body to fire up the fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) in which endorphins (block pain signaling) are released and the adrenal glands release cortisol. This response is important for acute stress situations. However, chronic stress can lead to chronic activation of the fight or flight response which disrupts proper bodily functions.
Not only does the chronic activation of the fight or flight response lead to poor health and chronic diseases, it also inhibits proper function of the hormones that aid in sexual desire and function. Important sex hormones for men and women are Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and progesterone. The endorphins released during stress cause a decrease in the luteinizing hormone (LH) which is important for testosterone production. Cortisol inhibits the production of adequate LH and inturn affects FSH, estrogen, and progesterone in women. Chronic activation leads to adrenal fatigue and sex hormones are converted to cortisol because the adrenal glands get burned out. Now there is a depletion of the vital hormones that drive our libido and performance. Sexual interactions are not only a stress reliever but a good source of exercise. Sexual desire and performance is an important factor for maintaining a healthy relationship with your companion/significant other.
Managing Stress for Improved Sex Drive
Studies show that stress among Americans is on the rise. In 2015, Americans reported financial and work stressors being the highest contributors. Managing the physical and emotional consequences of stress can cause additional stress, which may further lead to lowered sex hormones, causing a vicious cycle. Exercise, getting enough sleep, meditation/relaxation techniques, and healthy eating habits are all good avenues to help alleviate stress. However, many life stressors are unavoidable. By restoring physiologic levels of endogenous sex hormones in the body, the balance between stress and adequate hormone levels may be restored and symptoms relating to insufficient hormone levels can be decreased. Having renewed libido and energy, heightened mood, and increased physical health may reduce the impact of symptoms on stress levels and help to break the cycle of low sex hormones and stress.
If you are suffering from lack of sex drive, inability to climax, erectile dysfunction, and/or vaginal dryness resulting in pain with intercourse, low energy, weight gain, and/or low moods call Apollo Medical Associates to set up an initial consult. Let us help you battle the impact of chronic stress on the important hormonal functions that keep our relationships alive!
American Psychological Association. (2015). 2015 Stress in America. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/snapshot
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress Effects on the Body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress/effects-male-reproductive
Hamilton, L. D., & Meston, C. M. (2013). Chronic Stress and Sexual Function in Women. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10(10), 2443–2454. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12249