top of page

Break out of the stress = less sex cycle

The conundrum: Any type of sex - including self-pleasuring or having sex with another person - can be a very effective way to release stress from our bodies, and to feel happier and more relaxed. Yet, unfortunately, for most of us*, stress decreases our desire for sex. As we experience more stress, we tend to have less sex, which means our bodies are missing out on all of the positive health benefits of sex.

So what to do? MOVE YOUR BODY! Move in whatever way you enjoy the most. Dance, cycle, run, box… Do whatever feels fun and makes your HEART BEAT.

Why? Our bodies have a system that we could think of as our “emotional system” that regulates all forms of excitement and arousal within our bodies. This system activates our central nervous system and increases our breathing, heart rate and blood flow. Because of this, the stimulation of one motivational system can activate other motivational systems… In other words: any activity that makes our heart pump our blood around faster, makes it easier for us to experience sexual arousal. In addition, physical exercise is a great way to release stress and repressed emotions. And so, afterwards, we feel more relaxed: less mentally occupied or physically tense. The activity can be intense serious exercise, but jumping around the living room in a silly way works just as well! (It’s a nice coincidence that this week it was also #WorldBicycleDay and #GlobalRunningDay) Building new habits can be challenging, so picking an activity that feels fun to you can really help to actually do it regularly.

How stress tends to decrease our appetite for sex

Stress reduces our desire and our body’s capacity for sexual arousal and experiencing pleasure, because when we are stressed our nervous system is in “survival mode”. We’ll cover how this works in more detail another day. For the sake of our message today, it’s enough to understand the following:

  • our brains can only handle a limited amount of information at a time;

  • when we are stressed our brain is occupied with sending signals to our bodily functions to get us back to safety (to fight, flee or freeze);

  • in addition, when we are very stressed, our brain generally interprets almost anything as if it is yet another threat;

  • and so there is little to no space left for our brain to notice or respond to any “input” that in a non-stressed state we would find sexually arousing.

How sex can improve our wellbeing

Some examples:

  • Keeping our heart in shape: sexual arousal raises our heart rate;

  • Strengthening our muscles: during sex we might use many different muscles, but it’s especially good for strengthening our pelvic muscles (which has many other benefits that we will discuss other day);

  • Balancing our hormones: sex helps us to keep our estrogen and testosterone levels in balance;

  • Stimulating mental health: enjoyable physical touch leads to a release of oxytocin, our body’s “feel-good hormone”;

  • Reducing pain: the release of oxytocin is generally accompanied by the release of endorphins, our pain-killing hormones’;

  • Improving sleep: if sex leads to orgasm, the hormone prolactin can make us feel relaxed and help us fall asleep more easily.

  • Boosting our desire: having satisfying sex can motivate us to seek it out more often, so freeing up time for it once or a few times, can help to get us into an upwards spiral of desiring sex more regularly.

  • Increasing confidence: experiencing intimacy and pleasurable sex can also increase our confidence and general happiness

So on National Health & Fitness Day (#LetsMoveCanada), we’d like to encourage you to get your heart beating. Get up and find a way to enjoy moving your body. And that might well get you in the mood for more…

*Different studies have shown that for most people stress, including depression, and anxiety, decreases their interest in sex. However, for about 10 to 20 percent of people stress activates their interest in having sex. But even if that includes you, you will probably find that stress diminishes or even blocks your sexual pleasure.


bottom of page