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Mental Mondays: What Your Sex Life Says About Your Mental Health

Mental Mondays: What Your Sex Life Says About Your Mental Health


There is a significant link between your mental health and sex life, showing that sex runs deeper than the act. One minute your sex drive is hitting the roof and the next, the mere thought of having sex can be upsetting.

Of course, there are lots of factors that come into play responsible for the disconnection. Some of these are: prolonged stress, depression, anxiety, and/or trauma. If you notice unhealthy coping habits, outbursts, mood swings, changes in appetite, low sexual desire, irritability towards your partner, etc., it might be time to pause and tackle things from the root.

Here are some common mental health disorders that can affect your sexual health

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Anxiety: According to research, anxiety has been found to be one of the integral contributors to erectile dysfunction in males, especially younger males. Men and women with anxiety record a high level of detachment during sex, they may experience physical pain or trouble getting aroused.

Depression: Depression might make an individual second guess themselves, hate their bodies and lose confidence. As a result, this could lead to a reduced desire to have sexual intercourse or dyspareunia. At the other end of the spectrum, it might lead to promiscuity or using sex as an escapist tool.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Having experienced sexual abuse, whether in childhood or as an adult, has a strong link between a person’s mental health and sex life negatively. The individual could develop trust issues and an aversion towards sex and its relations.

Impulse Control Disorders: As the name implies, these disorders are impulsive and could cause harm both to the person dealing with the disorder(s) and others around. Individuals with bipolar and borderline personality disorder have shown a significant indulgence in impulsive sexual activities.

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According to WHO, compulsive sexual behavior has been included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is defined as an impulse disorder “characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.”

Substance abuse and addictions: There’s an obvious link between mental health and sex life especially when dealing with addiction. For example, there’s a tendency to rely on these drugs to optimize sexual performance. “When I was younger, I’d use alcohol to bring out my inner ‘Sasha Fierce’, I felt that would inhibit my shy self and allow me to have wild sex.” Victoria shared with Style Rave, a middle-aged project manager and mom of one.

Check out these strong links between an individual’s mental health and sex life…

#1. Impulsive sex

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Some individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and/or depression have been found to have a higher percentage of impulsive sex.

Although Fiona graduated from the University five years ago, she was still unemployed and broke. This made her isolate herself from family and friends, and she became depressed. Consequently, she started seeking out ways to escape the sinister feeling and her defences weakened. Fiona started replying to texts she would typically ignore, honoring invitations to wild parties and random sex. She felt the nights of fun would help take her mind off her present predicament, but in the morning when the booze wears out, she realizes it is only a temporary solution.

Also, this might be the case for some rapists with impulsive mental disorders. Once this feeling takes hold of them, these individuals become volatile and seek to have impulsive sex. They have the tendency to become violent and eventually rape their victims if refused.

#2. Multiple sex partners

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This is similar to having impulsive sex but not quite the same. In this case, Frank had more than ten sexual partners at the same time, the more he had, the more he felt it would make him “the happening dude”. He was bullied in school and all the girls didn’t think he was cool. After school, he was financially unstable and his friends got all the girls, this made a dent in his self-esteem and he always swore: ” when I finally have enough cash, all these ladies won’t hear the last of me.”

Another instance was Fred who grew up around highly promiscuous men and they always mentioned it as a badge of manhood. “The more of a man you are, the more ladies you can sex at once”, he’d watch his uncle send off a girl, only to have another one stop by fifteen minutes later. All the young men in the neighborhood would scream: “You are the MAN!” And of course, Fred thought that was the way to go. When an individual yearns for gratification and approval badly, they might begin to seek it out through random sex with multiple partners.

#3. Low sex drive

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When it comes to what your sex life might say about your mental health, you realize that it’s different strokes for different folks. While one might be on a sexual overdrive when going through depression or anxiety, others might lose the drive to enjoy things they normally would love—including sex.

I remember after giving birth to my son, I experienced a lot of emotional rumbles that left me uninterested in hitting the sheets. This feeling lasted for a long time and all I wanted to do was focus on my child and writing, and nothing more. Sometimes, when things weigh you down, the last thing on your mind is sex.

#4. Trauma/sexual assault

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One breezy evening, I decided to take a walk to clear my head, and there she was, her hands gripping the shirt of a random man, her voice vibrating and her eyes red from crying: “Give me my money, we discussed earlier and you agreed, now you want to swindle me…”, then she turned to me and started explaining. At this time, other people had gathered and the man paid her off more so out of embarrassment.

As I walked off, she managed to string along—literally blandishes me into having a full-on conversation. I realized she was a sex worker and from a rich home, that was a rare combination seeing most sex workers blame their financial status for their work choice. She was abused by her close relative, and her parents never believed her. She went from abhorring sex to accepting her fate, and ultimately to becoming addicted. Her name is Hannah and she’s a nymphomaniac. Her parents threw her out and that became her hobby turned profession.

Sexual abuse affects victims in different ways, for some, they crawl into their caves and detest the thought of sex while others become addicted to the act, albeit, emotionally detached.

#5. Medications

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If you notice a change in your sex drive, it might be from the medication you are on at the moment. I always loved sex, I was the type you’d label a crazy girl in the sheets but at some point, the mere thought of having another person touch me became irritating. It was weird and strange for me, so I checked with my doctor and he told me that was one of the side effects of the antidepressant medications was vaginal dryness and low sex drive. That explained a lot.

If your partner has mental health issues that are affecting your sex life, try these…

#1. Empathy

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Farida, a middle-aged lecturer told Style Rave; “My partner just doesn’t get it, I just don’t feel the need to have sex five times a week. He’d rather accuse me of holding back my body from him. I think he’s being selfish because he never takes the time to ask me how he can help or what he can do in bed to make it enjoyable for me.”

If you notice your partner’s sex drive drastically change (whether low or high), perhaps it’s time for a conversation. Be genuinely interested in knowing what’s going on with them, it might be a “mental demon” from the past that has surfaced or stress has triggered depression. Don’t assume, talk with them and empathize with your partner. These things are common in different phases of our lives.

#2. Try new things

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Sometimes, the next phase of your sex life is tucked inside a sizzling weekend getaway. A vacation or staycation filled with new activities both sexual and plain fun. When we get into a different but fun atmosphere with our partners, there’s a tendency to loosen up and be more receptive. You get to discover what type of touch hits home best, effective positions, when to use toys, and how to enjoy foreplay.

#3. Sort out your issues

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Sex is generally a mind-body occurrence unless you’re into casual/wild sex with no strings attached. One of the most common connections between your mental health and sex life is the state of your mind. A distressed relationship with your partner would eventually show up in the bedroom. Create time to sort out your relational issues because you wouldn’t be sexually aroused when there’s a truckload of issues that keep piling up.

For some reason, I’ve always wondered why some people have selective amnesia in the bedroom. You have been callous to me all week, and all of a sudden, you act surprised that I’m not enthusiastic about rubbing body parts against yours. Come on! Be realistic.

#4. Educate yourself

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If your partner has been diagnosed with a mental issue, research more on the condition and how you can support them through the recovery journey. Find out about the symptoms and treatment options available. This shows a level of commitment that runs deeper than wanting to have sex.

#5. Encourage them to get help

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After discovering the link between your mental health and sex life, you might realize the need for therapy and/or medication. Speak to your partner about getting help, maybe couple therapy, or any option prescribed by a professional.

Featured image: Michael Prewett | Unsplash

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