Sexual desire is so often thought to be a natural emotion that we tend to forget that its dynamics depend upon a complex and seamless co-ordination of psychological, physiological and lifestyle factors. This is why despite your best intentions and a reasonably stable relationship, you may find yourself feeling low in the bedroom. That is when you should take a second look at your lifestyle for evidence of stress.

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Here are ten signs that stress and worry are taking a toll on your love life.

You cannot fall asleep. Lack of adequate sleep has a tendency to dampen the vibes in your bedroom. If you believe that things have been hitting south in your love life, chances are that stress is robbing you of adequate sleep. Studies have shown that men with poor sleep patterns have significantly lower levels of testosterone, which results in a lack of sex drive. Scientists from the University of Chicago found men who get less than five hours sleep a night for a week or longer suffer have far less levels of testosterone than those who get a good night’s rest. Low testosterone levels not only have an inhibiting on sexual desire but lead to reduced well-being and physical vigor as well.

You begin the day arguing. It isn’t unusual for couples of today to start the day on an arguing spree. It could be a carryover of prior arguments before both slept on who gets to do what and whose turn it is to. Fighting over who has the toughest life worsens up already sky-high levels of stress resulting from over-scheduling, overwork and exhaustion. You lash out at the person closest to you – your partner; you say things you don’t mean and all these negativity has an inevitable effect in the bedroom.

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You smoke a lot. Apparently the notion that smoking calms the nerves thereby reducing stress is one of the biggest misconceptions among smokers. Instead it does the very opposite. Sexual functioning requires the coordination of several functions in the body. This includes the nervous system – or the process of mental stimulation – working in coordination with hormones, and the vascular system which pumps blood into the muscle tissue of the pelvic region so as to lead to sexual arousal and smoking can affect all these systems, thereby, leading to reduced sex drive and impotence.

You drink too much. Just like cigarettes, alcohol too is commonly portrayed as an anti-dote to stress. Although this may be true, making a guy and even his partner, more open to intimacy, it might have a negative effect where it most counts. Alcohol might set the mood but take away the performance. A drink too many will not only hamper the brain-body co-ordination necessary for sexual performance, but its depressant qualities will actually slow down your responses, making it harder to have an orgasm.

You take your worries to bed. Ever heard the popular saying, leave work behind the moment you get to the front door to your home? It is very important if you want to maintain a healthy sex life. Stress and sex don’t make good bedfellows. Ending your day by obsessing over your presentation for the next day or watching TV news recounting crime, economic downturns, and natural disasters on TV or online makes it hard to clear your head once you make it to the bedroom. Not only are all those issues on your mind, but they also may have a physiological effect on how sexy you feel. When you’re stressed, your body pumps more cortisol through your bloodstream, lowering testosterone levels and inhibiting sexual desire.

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You rarely exercise. Believe it or not, lack of exercise has no doubt a direct and negative effect on libido. It makes you put on weight and hence feel unattractive.  By hindering blood flow down south, you’re less likely to be sexually aroused when the opportunity presents itself. When you have a good work out, your body releases pent-up tension and stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain that can reduce anxiety. So when you avoid working out, you are not only making it harder for yourself to fight stress but also making it harder to get in the mood for lovemaking.

You get pissed over little things. Little things get you riled up easily. If you’re this kind of person, it is a sign that stress is getting to you. While this is no doubt harmful to your own health, it also has a direct impact on your love life. You will find yourself irritated by your partner’s words and actions – no matter how insignificant. Over time, your partner will feel he/she is walking on eggshells around you and the perpetual tension in the bedroom will keep any chances of love making away.

You have a ‘headache’. A ‘headache’ is a commonly used euphemism when a partner doesn’t want to have sex. However, it could actually be a very real physiological manifestation of stress. If you have been regularly complaining of “inexplicable” headaches, stomach aches and other aches and pains, chances are that you are suffering from stress, which in turn is sending your love life for a toss.

You hardly talk to your partner. If you frequently find yourself doing the very opposite of yelling which is bottling up, it is probably because you are finding it difficult to cope with stress.  Some personalities do not express their tensions and anxieties by yelling at others but keep them bottled within. On the outside they may seem to possess an equable temperament but inside they may be struggling to hold it together. If you feel yourself, avoiding his/her company, refusing to meet his/her eye, turning down all attempts to communicate then you need to find more effective ways of dealing with stress. All couples require a degree of intimacy – whether emotional or physical – and withdrawing from your partner will only harm your love life further.

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