There’s a good chance that at some point, money has stressed you out.
A recent study by Northwestern Mutual found that money is the most common source of stress among U.S. adults. Worse, that tension creeps into our love lives. Four in 10 of the study respondents said money issues have affected their relationships with their partners, while 1 in 5 said they have financial disagreements with their significant others at least monthly.
Worrying about money doesn’t just cause couples to quarrel. It can destroy your sex life, whether you’re used to going at it solo or with a partner.
“Chronic stress can wear down people’s ability to let go and fully enjoy themselves during sex,” said Azra Alic, a licensed clinical social worker in Palo Alto, California. “People can become so preoccupied with worries about their financial future that they cannot concentrate on what’s happening in front of them ― in this case, sex,” she said.
Plus, when you’re regularly putting in extra hours at the office or poring over financial statements, sheer exhaustion can get in the way of getting it on.
“Because so much energy goes toward worrying, planning and, in some cases, overworking, some people find that there is not enough energy left over to get in the mood,” Alic said.
The effects of money stress can manifest themselves in even more damaging ways. Rather than risk yet another fight about money, some couples choose to bottle up their emotions and avoid talking about finances at all.
Those feelings “become pent up and turn to resentment, which becomes like a cancer to the relationship. People can become passive-aggressive and withhold sex from their partners as an attempt to punish or to act out their rage,” said psychotherapist Lauren Dummit, the co-founder and clinical director of Triune Therapy Group in Los Angeles and co-host of the KABC radio show “Behind Closed Doors with Dr. Kate and Lauren.”
There’s also a scientific explanation for the link between more stress and less sex drive.
“When we experience stress, our nervous system goes into a fight-or-flight response, releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine,” said Dummit.
These hormones, she said, are not harmful in small doses. “However, when we experience chronic stress and the release of these toxic hormones is prolonged, our physical health is affected in many ways,” Dummit said. “For example, cortisol suppresses our sex hormones.” That, in turn, lowers your libido.
How To Get Your Groove Back
It’s important to find ways to alleviate financial stress. Getting your money and your mind in the right place will lead to bigger rewards in the bedroom. Dr. Brian Doane, owner of Tampa Bay Counseling Services in Florida, has some advice.
Get some sleep.
Grabbing more zzz’s can fight off those pesky stress hormones. “Make time to get a little more sleep as it can help lower cortisol levels,” said Doane.
Find a healthy outlet.
Instead of bottling up your emotions, find a healthy activity that helps you blow off some steam. Doane recommends spending more time outdoors. “This could be hiking, gardening, swimming, etc. Anything to help you take a break from life’s stress,” he said.
Focus on your overall health.
It’s harder to manage stress when your body isn’t in the best shape. Try to make small improvements such as eating better and adding exercise to your daily routine. “Low to moderate exercise has also been shown to help reduce stress, regulate hormones and increase libido,” said Doane.
Talk it out.
Improving both your finances and your mental health is easier when you enlist help. “Perhaps most importantly, talk to someone about your financial problems,” said Doane.
“Whether it’s coming clean to your partner about the state of your bank account or meeting with a financial planner, confront the fear rather than avoiding it,” he added.
Have more sex.
It might seem counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do to improve your lackluster sex life is to have sex anyway. You might not be in the mood beforehand, but you’ll likely feel better afterward. As Dummit noted, that’s because sex itself alleviates stress.
Everyone’s heard of the deleterious effects stress can have on the body. It’s a common trope to hear about a businessman who was so overworked that he keeled over his desk due to a heart attack.
And very few people are strangers to just how devastating financial stress can be. Financial stress can be as nagging as not being able to fix a leak, and as serious as not knowing where your next meal is coming from.
But did you know that financial stress can affect your sex drive?
It’s sad but it’s true: stress and libido are related to each other. When you’re feeling the burdening effects of the world of economics, you can be suffering in bed.
To fight the hydra that is financial stress and libido, you’re going to need to understand it at its source. This article will walk you through all you need to know about stress and sex drive, and provide some solutions to help you take your life back.
Financial stress can affect your sex life a little at a time building up without you noticing.
How does it kill sex?
When someone’s dealing with financial stress, they tend to overwork. Late hours spent at the office, seeing extra clients, or at an extra job could mean there’s quite literally no time for sex. The time you do have to yourself you’ll most likely want to rest.
But it needn’t just be extra work. Financial planning, staying up at night looking for cheaper houses, trying to sell furniture, and other burdens that come with financial stress can also take up time that contributes to exhaustion.
Here comes the big kicker. Stress doesn’t just affect what happens around you, it changes you at your core.
How does it kill sex?
A study published in 2013 showed that women who were shown erotic films while under the effects of stress reacted to them less, due to the presence of cortisol in the body.
The effects of cortisol
Cortisol is your body’s security system. It’s the hormone your body releases when you’re undergoing stress, to make sure that you work to get out of the situation you’re in. The body is smarter than we give it credit for; it knows what it wants.
But too much cortisol for too long can have devastating effects on the body. It can affect sleep, the heart, weight gain — even libido. The study shows that while genital arousal occurs, the psychological stimulation just doesn’t happen for those undergoing stress; they get distracted, they think about other things, they just can’t get into it.
The systems of your body are connected, and they can do amazing things in times of peril. If your body feels that you need more cortisol to get you out of your current situation, it will use up our sex hormones to produce more.
On top of this, having less money might be your malnourishment. This doesn’t mean you’re not eating per se, but it could mean you’re not eating the right foods. A lack of testosterone-rich foods is one of the biggest weapons in the battle between stress and male libido.
The psychological connection
Unfortunately — with the human body — when it rains, it pours. If you’ve gone through a time where you’ve had high cortisol or faced a significant degree of malnourishment, your body might get used to having that lowered sex drive.
Our brain holds on to memories, long after we think we’re done with them. If you went through a period of lowered sex drive because of physical symptoms, your brain might keep your libido down even after you’ve recovered. Your brain might not be able to tell the difference and be operating to keep you safe.
There’s no way around it — stress kills libido. Whether it’s for immediate purposes, such as high levels of cortisone in the body, or secondary purposes, such as increased levels of exhaustion and fighting, at the end of the day, less sex is less sex. And less sex can take a toll on the relationship; so what can you do?
What you can do
Fortunately, there are ways out for those who are suffering from low sex drives. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can work through this issue.
Take care of yourself
We understand that relationships require sacrifice, and rough financial times can mean work is the prerogative — but you need to take care of yourself.
This could be as simple as carving out some time to read, play a video game, listen to music — whatever you enjoy the most. Develop a hobby if you have the time. Take up an artistic pursuit.
Taking care of yourself will help you find a purpose in your life, and through that, you’ll reconnect with your partner.
Try to sleep more
This might be tough to hear since one of the symptoms of stress is insomnia. However, if you’re not making time for sleep, you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance.
You may be staying long nights at your business trying to work things out, but the fact of the matter is, less sleep means less efficiency. If you carve out time for sleep, you’ll better be able to problem-solve, and better be able to get yourself out of your financial rut.
Exercise with your partner
Exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of stress. It’s the most immediate way to “blow off steam”. There’s nothing that’ll get rid of worries faster than putting your body into that shocking post-workout state of blissful recovery.
Exercising with your partner is a great way to hold yourself accountable. It’s also a great way to reconnect. When you’re working out you only need to worry about what’s right in front of you, which can help you establish intimacy again.
There are plenty of free and low cost ways to exercise, with millions of Youtube videos to work out to, music to dance to or simply going outside and running or walking more.
Get financial help
If you’re in trouble or not sure what to do, tell your partner, and together find a solution form a trusted expert. There will be a way to get on top of things, and it’ll help ease the stress that’s causing your issues.
Our program is based on science and is dedicated to helping people like you regain their feelings of sexual desire. We believe that libido problems deserve just as much attention as any other. We help you solve the issue at its source — the human body and mind.
Stress and libido
Finances can have huge effects on stress levels and stress levels can have huge effects on libido. Stress and libido are intricately linked, and in order to maintain your sex life, you’re going to need to work with your partner, body, and mind.
The road to restoring your libido is hard, but it’s not impossible. Listen to your body, and you’re well on your way.