The space between mental and sexual health

Wow, what a topic. A complicated, messy, challenging topic. Just what constitutes 'normal' stirs endless debate, mostly because female sexuality shoulders an immense weight. Let's talk about it.

Depression and Sexual Health

Depression can negatively impact your sexual health, as the whole process of sexual arousal

starts with the ability to anticipate pleasure, which is lost with depression.

Sexual desire is cultivated in the brain, and sex organs rely on chemicals in the brain to promote

libido as well as the changes in blood flow needed for the sexual act. When depression disrupts

these brain chemicals, it can make sexual activity more difficult. People with chronic depression can experience a loss of desire, take longer to orgasm, and simply find sex less enjoyable.

Anxiety and Sexual Health

Anxiety can also affect your libido, as the high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that your

body produces when you’re anxious can suppress the sex hormones that impact desire. Anxiety can also cause you to be more self-critical about your body, making it more difficult for you to be fully present emotionally and physically during sex.

The feeling of anxiety may cause you to feel too overwhelmed to feel close to your partner, and

for women who have experienced past trauma, anxiety can even cause your body to shut down

to the point that it can prevent enjoyment of sexual experiences.

The physical symptoms of anxiety, like tense muscles, rapid breathing, lightheadedness and

shallow breathing, may mean you can't fully relax and experience pleasure, affecting your ability

to climax

Medication and Sexual Health

Not only can depression and anxiety impact your sexual health, but the prescription medications

used to treat these conditions can also decrease your libido and make it difficult to orgasm.

These side effects can vary from person to person, and also depend on the dosage and time of

day taken. It’s important to speak with a trusted health professional about any potential negative

side effects.

What can you do?

● Have an open conversation with a trusted health professional about your concerns. If

you have concerns regarding your medication, there may be options for switching to a

different medication or dosage, or you may be able to take your dose after engaging in

sexual activity.

● Communicate with your partner about how your depression or anxiety is affecting your

sexual health. Open communication around how to address both your mental health and

sexual needs may lessen any feelings of guilt or worthlessness.

● Explore what feels good to your body. Our bodies change throughout our lives, and

experimenting with different sensations or kinds of touch may be a great mental and

physical reset.

● Look after yourself, your mental health comes first. Decreased libido and sexual function

are extremely common with depression and anxiety, and it’s also important to remember

that there is no standard for how often you should be having sex or how you should

enjoy sex.


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