New research has highlighted that 74% of adults struggling with their sex lives say it’s due to stress or mental health strain. Sex-related issues can include anything from anxiety and discomfort during sex, to a change in sex drive or more serious symptoms of sexual dysfunction. 7 out of 10 adults facing these issues believe poor mental health or increased stress levels are the cause.
The study was coordinated by therapy specialists at sex-therapy app Blueheart, which involved collecting data from 66,000 people aged 18+.
The research revealed that, of these respondents, 31% were suffering from symptoms associated with more serious sexual dysfunction. This includes arousal and orgasm issues, which ranges from taking an extended amount of time to become sexually aroused or climax, or experiencing unsatisfying orgasms, to being unable to achieve sexual arousal and climax at all.
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According to Dr. Katherine Hertlein, a world-renowed sex therapist and expert advisor at Blueheart, the number of people experiencing sex-related issues has spiked over the past 2 years.
Dr. Hertlein comments: “Your mental health plays an incredibly important role in regulating your physical and sexual wellbeing and, due to the pandemic, we’ve all experienced enormous changes to our lifestyles that has significantly impacted our relationships with others, and our sex lives.
“Sex-related issues that were initially caused by the stress of the pandemic, may now be amplified by new pressures such as financial worries or increased time spent on social media, which create pressure to conform to unrealistic body image ideals. Due to this, many adults are experiencing a decrease in their libido levels, and feeling more anxiety around sexual encounters with new and existing partners, all of which can feed into symptoms of sexual dysfunction if left untreated.”
However, Dr. Hertlein adds that there are simple steps you can take to combat sexual dysfunction: “There are simple steps that you can take to reduce stress and the impact it can have on your sexual wellbeing. The most important thing you can do is talk to your partner or trusted friends about your concerns – make sure you don’t suffer in silence. I would also advise seeking professional support before your worries and concerns have the chance to develop into more serious cases of sexual dysfunction. Science-backed sex therapy is also proven to provide practical and emotional support to overcome these challenges.”
To help couples re-establish a healthy and intimate sex life, one option may be using a Sensate Focus technique, which focuses on the (non-sexual) development of all five senses with a partner. After 2 weeks of practicing the Sensate Focus Technique, a study conducted by Blueheart found that participants felt 72% more physically connected with the amount of physical intimacy between themselves and their partner.