19 December 2022

Stress is your body’s reaction to change that requires a response or adjustment to maintain normal body function. Your body may react to these changes physically, mentally, or emotionally. On the other hand, anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, or nervousness. It is a normal reaction – your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger.

Chronic or prolonged stress can disturb hormone levels and production, resulting in irregular menstruation, difficulty conceiving, and low libido. Learn about the signs that you are stressed out, how it can affect your sexual health, and some self-care tips to reduce stress.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Stress affects everyone differently. Several ways in which chronic or long-term stress affects women include:

Physical

  • Back and neck pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Acne and other skin problems
  • Upset stomach
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Lack of energy
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

Emotional

  • Irritability
  • Easily angered
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Mental

  • Forgetfulness
  • Worry
  • Lack of focus
  • Easily get bored
  • Indecisiveness

Occupational

  • Poor concentration on task at hand
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Tensed relations with colleagues

Social

  • Isolation
  • Less intimacy
  • Family problems

Spiritual

  • Apathy
  • Loss of meaning
  • Unforgiveness
  • Doubt
  • Despair

How stress affects women’s sexual health?

It is no secret that unmanaged stress can affect your physical health over time. But did you know that stress affects your sex drive? Our sex lives are driven by our hormones, namely oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. They naturally boost or decrease libido and sexual pleasure, depending on your monthly cycles. However, if you are constantly stressed, the adrenal hormone cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone) suppresses sex hormones, which quashes your libido. Eventually, having low sex drives would cause more stress.

High cortisol leads to other symptoms that hinder sex drives, such as new weight gain, extreme cravings, fatigue, and insomnia. Women with higher stress levels also have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women with less stress. Premenstrual syndrome is also more severe with increasing levels of stress. You can restore your sex life despite all these cortisol-related effects on your hormones.

Men vs. Women

Studies show that women are more likely to experience symptoms of stress than men. Experts do not fully know the reason behind such differences, but it may be related to how the human bodies process stress hormones (cortisol). Long-term (chronic) stress is more likely to cause mood problems and anxiety in women.

Stress During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body and hormones change, and you may worry about post-pregnancy changes in your life. Keep in mind that too much stress during pregnancy is not good for you and your baby’s health. Stress can induce pregnancy discomforts, such as body aches and difficulty sleeping. It can also lead to more serious problems, like eating problems, high blood pressure, and depression. Talk to your doctor regularly about your stress, and try the following tips below to help you cope.

Self-care Tips to Lower Stress Levels

You can manage stress by practising self-care strategies for coping with stress. Here are some tips so you can better manage stress and achieve more balance and potential:

  • Be physically active. Devote 30 minutes to an hour to aerobic exercise.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and listening to music.
  • Set a schedule for leisure time.
  • Get enough sleep, at least seven to nine hours.
  • Do not suppress your emotions.
  • Repeat positive emotions.
  • Work toward healthy self-esteem.
  • Write out your thoughts – the things you are thankful for.
  • Be resilient, realistic, and creative.
  • Set work limits by managing home and work balance.
  • Establish attainable goals.
  • Preserve loving relationships while establishing healthy boundaries with people.
  • Talk to family members or friends. It might help you see your problems from new perspectives and arrive at an excellent solution.
  • Focus on gratitude.
  • Relish the present moment.
  • Get organised by figuring out what is most important to do at home and work.
  • Volunteer in your community. It can help you make new friends and feel good about helping other people.
  • Get help from a professional. Your doctor may suggest counselling sessions or medicines (e.g., antidepressants and sleep aids).

Stress Can Affect Women's Sexual Health: Get the Facts and Help | Infographic
Conclusion

As a woman, you will continue to experience stress in your life. Knowing the signs of stress and how to manage it will empower you to make healthy life choices. As our pledge to provide comprehensive and holistic care for women of all ages, WS Law Women’s Clinic is open to answering your inquiries on stress management.

 

References

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/

https://www.adventhealth.com/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/