The benefits include release of endorphins and other hormones that elevate mood, and exercise, which itself is an effective stress reliever. But stress can also keep us from getting in the mood and, worse, not being able to perform sexually. The harder you try, the worse it is and the stronger your conditioning becomes.
Soon, the stress of performance anxiety is an ingrained, spontaneous habit that causes erectile dysfunction whenever you think about sex. This is one of the main reasons men can avoid sexual intimacy altogether. For millions of men, erectile dysfunction is nothing more than a stress response that triggers a classic mind-body phenomenon.
Sexual activity is under the control of the autonomic or involuntary nervous system; i. Whenever a man becomes aroused, nerve impulses cause blood vessels in the penis to dilate, allowing a steady flow of blood into the spongy tissue. At the same time, a circular muscle called a sphincter constricts to prevent blood from flowing back.
Negative events create a spontaneous stress response that intensifies the more ingrained it becomes. And because physiological actions such as erection are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the conditioning process is more easily developed and that much harder to break. As with any stress response, a variety of hormones are disrupted as well. Endorphins, which block pain during stress, also block the release of LHRH luteinizing hormone releasing hormone.
FSH, which stimulates sperm formation, also declines. To add fuel to the fire, cortisol, the main stress hormone, makes the testes less responsive to LH.
The underlying power behind all these reactions is the mind. Reconditioning the brain is the key element in reversing it. Women can also be victims of the stress-sex connection. After all, sex for women is not only a physical but an intensely emotional experience.
In females, LH triggers ovulation. Cortisol also blocks the anterior pituitary from releasing proper levels of LH. FSH, prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone levels are disrupted as well. The net effect in females is not only an irregular ovulatory cycle but an environment in which fertilization and implantation of the egg into the uterine wall is more difficult. Chronic stress affects the concentration of all sex hormones because the body produces stress hormones such as cortisol at the expense of sex hormones like testosterone.
This change, called the stress-shift in hormone production, helps us respond to life-threatening situations by focusing hormone production for survival rather than procreation. The shift in hormones not only lowers sex drive but it can interfere with ovulation, sperm count, and fertility. In many cases, simply recognizing stress as a contributing factor or the cause of sexual problems is enough to bring about recovery.
Ignoring the problem and not taking steps to eliminate it can lead to anger , emotional disorders, depression , physical illness, and permanent loss of intimacy. The following mind-body suggestions can help recondition the brain and reverse the process before it gets out of control: Communicate your fears and desires. Since the majority of sexual problems starts in the brain, and are typically the result of stress or anxiety, any treatment has to begin with both partners in it together.
Simply sharing the anxiety, stress, and depression with someone is often enough for recovery. Use special techniques to help eliminate sexual problems.
There are numerous resources available that address the causes of sexual problems and their cures. People who exercise on a regular basis have better stamina and much better sex lives. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, physical exercise stimulates the release of hormones and triggers physiological reactions that boost libido. Secondly, the emotional awareness of being healthy and fit gives one a better outlook on life and translates into a better sex life.
And thirdly, regular exercise stimulates growth of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which naturally leads to enhanced blood flow to genital areas.
Take supplements to boost energy and libido. Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs have been shown to increase libido, as well as keep the reproductive system in good working order. B-complex vitamins and vitamin E are important, as is zinc. In recent studies, the amino acids arginine and citrulline, in addition to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, helped improve erection by helping the body produce nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the penis.
Use meditation , breathing exercises, yoga, laughter , and progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and tension.
Getting in the mood for sex is not as easy as turning on a light switch. Some of the best mood setters are soothing music, aromas from scented candles that stimulate the senses, lighting that provides a romantic atmosphere, and massage, which triggers the relaxation response and induces emotional well-being.
If all else fails, consult a physician. Recent advances in medicine have produced astonishing success in treating sexual dysfunction. Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, for example, have a greater than eighty percent success rate. Although an imbalance between sex and stress hormones can play a role in causing sexual problems, the major factor is negative conditioning created by stress itself.
The three most common sexual problems are erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and frigidity. All three are typically the end result of stress, anxiety, tension, fear , depression, or a combination of these, and all three can be treated by using relaxation techniques, behavior modification , and special exercises that condition the brain and the genital muscles to respond in a normal way. Sexual problems can be one of the greatest sources of stress a couple experiences.
Becoming impotent or frigid can lead to depression or severe anxiety and cause illnesses that develop into more serious problems. During those times in our lives when day-to-day stress makes sex the last thing on our plates, we need to keep three things in mind: