How Stress Might Be Killing Your Sex Life and What to Do About It


A couple in bed appears frustrated due to stress killing their sex life

Stress can impact your sexual performance and/or lower your libido, affecting your desire to get intimate. Here's how stress can ruin your sex life – and how to stop it.

Key takeaways:

  • Our bodies react to stress by activating “fight or flight” mode.

  • This stress response causes physiological and psychological changes that can negatively affect your libido.

  • Taking steps to manage your stress, such as using guided imagery or aromatherapy, can be helpful.

  • If you continue to experience low libido despite utilizing stress reduction techniques, you should see a doctor to rule out medical causes.

  • Low libido can become a clinical disorder called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) when it becomes persistent and disruptive.

  • Multiple types of therapy can help you manage stress, including individual therapy, couples therapy, and sex therapy.


We live in a fast-paced, high-stakes, high-stress society. This can leave our bodies in a perpetual state of “fight or flight.” The “fight or flight” response is how our bodies react to stress. It increases the heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure – things we need to fight or run away from a threat – while shutting down non-essential functions, like our sex drive.


Your body’s activation of the fight or flight response also triggers a cascade of hormones, including the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. High levels of cortisol cause low libido. These physiological effects on the body impact our psychology and vice versa. Stress also causes feelings of anxiety and/or low mood, which alone can be mood-killers.


Between the body’s physiological and psychological responses to stress, it’s no wonder that if you’re feeling frazzled, you may not be feeling too frisky! Stress can ruin your sex life, but here’s how to get it back.


Ways to manage your stress


Managing stress is an important step to managing your overall mental health – and improving your sex life. Chronic stress can impact your health, and as mentioned above, your sex life. Finding ways to diminish the impact of stress on your life is essential to make sure it doesn’t disrupt your libido.


Here are some evidence-based stress relief techniques to try: