You know it—stress can be a real dampener in the bedroom. It’s not just because your mind isn’t in the mood—it’s because of the way your body handles too much stress, fnds a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The study divided a sample of women into two groups—a high-stress group and an average-stress group—then mea- sured their levels of arousal while they watched an erotic video. The women in the high-stress group showed lower lev- els of genital arousal, higher levels of dis- traction and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol which
researchers hypothesise contributed to reduced physical arousal. In other words, when your brain is buzzing with to-do lists and should-have-dones, your below- the-belt area isn’t primed to operate at peak performance.
Ironically, the best way to take action is to get some action. “Orgasm is an amazing natural stress buster,” says Joan Price, a sex expert, and author of Naked At Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex. “Whether it’s with a partner or fin- gering yourself, having sex will give you a physiological release that will make you feel better.” Try simple steps to ensure that your sex life doesn’t suffer, even when you’re stressed.
Not only is exercise a well- known stress reducer, but it ups blood flow, including to the genital area, explains Price. Consider yoga, which is supposed to increase sexual arousal and lubrication.
Ask for a back rub.
Even if you’re not
in the mood, skin-on-skin contact is crucial for stress relief. Not only does massage lower stress hormones, but the intimacy of the experience keeps you and your partner connected. It may even be the trigger you need to actually get into bed together.
Put it on the calendar.
A sex date may seem absurd, but putting it in writing will make it more likely to happen. It’ll also help get your brain and body in sync. “Thinking about what lingerie you’ll wear, and what you want to do ignites your anticipation and can start the physiologi- cal response of arousal,” says Price. —Anna Davies