After a long day at work, dealing with the stress of deadlines, bosses, co-workers and the relentless need to get ahead, what better way to relax than to come home and enjoy a romantic evening with a partner? It sounds like the perfect plan, but as most men know, all of that psychological stress can take its toll on their sex drive, making intimacy seem more like a chore than a pleasure. Stress can affect a man’s sex life, and even his penis health, in a variety of ways. Understanding these may help men to take control and develop appropriate coping mechanisms that can improve their prospects in the bedroom as well as their overall quality of life.

How stress affects the libido

Sex drive is highly dependent on levels of testosterone in the body. The level of testosterone is controlled by numerous factors, including other hormones. Psychological stress is known to raise levels of cortisol in the body; this ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone has a negative effect on testosterone. Prolonged stress, whether it is caused by work-related issues, family problems, financial concerns or any of the other complications and difficulties that are a part of daily life, can lead to reduced testosterone and, therefore, a decreased interest in sex.

Other related factors that can cause diminished sex drive

Aside from the direct effects of stress, other related problems can lead to decreased sex drive. For instance, the high levels of stress hormone in the body can eventually cause symptoms of depression and anxiety, both of which may impact a man’s sexual desire. Furthermore, some of the medications often used to treat these disorders can also reduce the sex drive.

In addition, cortisol - the stress hormone previously mentioned - can lead to weight gain; increased abdominal fat raises estrogen levels in the body, which in turn decrease levels of testosterone.

How to help

With all of these factors at play, the effects of stress may seem like an unending cycle, and men who are affected may feel like there is no hope. But there is help. The most obvious step is to reduce the amount of stress in a person’s life, but realistically, that is not always possible. It is therefore usually more effective to change how a person responds to it.

What works in terms of managing stress is different for everyone, but here are some of the general rules:

- Get plenty of exercise. Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce the negative physiological effects of stress on the body. It can also make men feel better about themselves and increase their level of overall health in the process.

- Choose healthy, nutritious foods. What a man eats has a direct effect on how he feels, and a diet that is designed to meet his body’s needs will leave him feeling better and more relaxed. Heart-healthy fats, lean proteins, high-quality carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and vegetables are all essential to good physical and mental health.

- Get plenty of sleep. People who are stressed tend not to sleep well, and too little rest can amplify the effects. Men should stick to a regular sleep schedule and make sure their bedroom is a place for sleep (and sex) only - not a home office or TV room.

- Practice relaxation techniques. There are hundreds of techniques and products available to help men with relaxation - meditation and yoga are perhaps the most common, but there are options to suit every taste.

- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational substances. While it can be natural to turn to these substances for a quick fix for stress, the chemicals tend to enhance rather than relieve the problem. Overuse of any of these can lead to long-term health problems and damage other aspects of men’s lives, so they are best avoided.

- Caring for the penis

Sometimes, the more effective solutions for problems like stress, self-esteem and anxiety are also the more simplistic, but the bottom line is that they work. For instance, a man who is confident about his hygiene and appearance is more likely to feel attractive, which in itself can raise his level of desire. Therefore, exercising appropriate penis care is one important aspect of managing stress-related sex issues.

Exercise is a crucial part of this process, because physical activity increases the levels of endorphins in the body. These feel-good chemicals counter the effects of cortisol and help men to feel more relaxed and happy. On top of this, exercise boosts blood flow, another important factor in bedroom performance.

Maintaining good hygiene is the next step. Washing regularly, trimming the surrounding hair (or removing it completely) and applying a quality penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) are good ways to ensure a clean, attractive manhood. A nutrient formula enriched with vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants can have significant benefits when it comes to the look and feel of the penile skin and help boost a man’s confidence in his appearance.