If you’ve looked over my site or read any of my blog posts, you may be wondering how my two specialties – anxiety and sexual health fit together.   Well the truth is that anxiety and sex have a lot to do with each other.  Someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may end up experiencing worries which are related to their sex life – such as:

Does my partner like this?

Am I weird for having this desire/fantasy?

My body/body part isn’t attractive enough.

Why am I attracted to the same sex?

Everyone might experience worries from time to time, but for someone with an anxiety disorder the worries can take over and end up impacting their sexual health.  They may end up not enjoying sex or avoiding it all together because of their worries.

Anxiety can also cause comparisons to others.  We might feel like our sex life is inadequate because we think others are having it more often or are experiencing more satisfying sexual encounters.   Anxiety which isn’t even related to sex can also end up causing issues with your sex life.  If you are spending a lot of time consumed with fears and worries about any topic, you probably aren’t able to spend much time being interested in sex.  Lack of focus and irritability are other common symptoms of an anxiety disorder.  Focus is vital for a health sex life!  Good sex isn’t automatic.  It requires a person to be able to learn about themselves and their partner and to be able to be in the moment.  This certainly is impacted by anxiety.  And irritability…well I think it goes without saying that if you’re grumpy you and your partner probably aren’t going to be interested in sex.

The sex/anxiety relationship can also go the other way.  Someone who has never experienced difficulty with anxiety can find themselves experiencing it for the first time secondary to issues with their sex life.  For example, sexual orientation and gender issues can cause fear and confusion, especially when they emerge later in life (which by the way, is not unusual).  Anxiety might also grow out of normal sexual exploration and discovering things that are enjoyable but that the individual fears are “weird.”

Regardless of where the anxiety comes from, it can be a problem for several reasons.  Most obvious is the emotional impact that anxiety has.  Anxiety and depression are closely linked and these feelings can cause a person to detach emotional when having sex or not engage in sex at all.  The cognitive component of anxiety can also cause more distress as the worries that people experience are often irrational and can spiral into even more fears, worries, and negative thoughts.  Anxiety can also make sexual difficulties worse physiologically because of the chemicals involved with anxiety.  When someone is feeling anxious or panicked, adrenaline can be released into the blood stream.  This is not good from a sexual standpoint because adrenaline actually cause a man to lose his erection or make it difficult for a woman to experience orgasm.

To make matters even worse, some of the common medications prescribed for anxiety disorders- antidepressants and benzodiazepines can cause sexual side effects including impotence and lack of desire.

The good news is that even though this all may seem overwhelming there is hope.  When you engage in therapy with a therapist who is comfortable with treating not only anxiety but sexual health issues, you can start to explore and treat your symptoms, including your worries and fears, which will ultimately allow you to start living the life you deserve – including a healthy and fulfilling sex life!  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 585-299-1010 today!