A man holding his partner from behind, but she doesn't seem very into it.
Illustration by Marta Pucci

Could Your PTSD Be Causing Your Lower Sex Drive?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

Did you know that almost 8 million people in the United States suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) each year? PTSD is a prevalent mental health disorder that affects a wide range of people, not only veterans.

Anyone may develop PTSD, yes even you or your partner. That is not an indication of weakness. Numerous triggers, all outside the person's influence, will increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.

Though PTSD manifests itself in various ways, one symptom that is less often explored is lower sex drive.

Are you wondering if PTSD could be the cause of you having a lower sex drive? Click here to learn more and if it applies to you.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychological condition that may happen to you or someone you know if they have seen or undergone a traumatic incident. It is not gender or age-specific.

Anything could trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as a natural disaster, a big accident, war, or rape. Also, people who have been exposed to suicide, assault, sexual or otherwise, or serious injury.

People with PTSD have powerful, unsettling thoughts and emotions about the traumatic incident that continue long after it has occurred.

PTSD symptoms and severity thereof vary from person to person. However, here are the most common:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Bouts of depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disorder
  • Misuse of drugs
  • Lower sex drive
  • Overwhelming grief

You can cope with any of the above symptoms by learning strategies and using self-help tools. These will help you manage your emotions and stress triggers.

It is important, however, for you to seek professional help.

Sexual dysfunction or lower sex drive - what is it?

Sexual dysfunction happens when you have an issue that interferes with your need for or enjoyment of any sexual activity.

Lower sex drive is often caused by stress. Additional causes of  low sex drive include the following:

  • Sexual trauma
  • Mental issues
  • Diabetes
  • Medical conditions such as heart disease
  • Drug misuse
  • Alcohol misuse
  • PTSD

Loss of sexual desire can occur at any moment and affects people of all ages, though the likelihood increases with age.

Recognizing lower sex drive as a disorder?

You not being in the 'mood' sometimes is a normal thing. None of the four types below should be deemed a disorder unless they occur consistently and seriously impair your or your partner's sexual life.

Desire disorder

Desire disorder occurs when you are uninterested in sex, lack sex drive, or have a lower sex drive, and it causes you distress. It is one of the most often occurring sexual disorders. This may be a lifetime concern, or it may happen suddenly due to PSTD or develop gradually.

Arousal disorder

A lack of or avoidance of sexual fantasies, as well as an inability or unwillingness to participate in sexual intercourse, are all symptoms of sexual arousal disorder.

It is known as female sexual arousal disorder in women and erectile dysfunction for men.

Orgasm disorder

Orgasmic disorder is characterized by a person being unable to reach a sexual climax. Additionally, you can have unfulfilling orgasms and taking longer than usual to achieve climax.

In simplistic terms, orgasm dysfunction occurs when you are emotionally receptive but unable to climax, leaving you dissatisfied and frustrated.

Pain and discomfort disorder for women

Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful intercourse. It is characterized as chronic or repetitive genital pain that happens before, through, or after intercourse.

You or your partner may experience pain during intercourse. That could be for a variety of reasons, ranging from physical discomfort to psychological distress. Many women experience painful sexual relations at some stage in their lives.

During sexual intercourse, a variety of things may cause discomfort.

  • Not enough lubrication
  • Tense vaginal muscles cause penetration to be painful
  • Vaginismus, or spontaneous vaginal muscle spasms, may make intercourse painful

These signs and symptoms could indicate a neurological, urinary tract, or bowel problem.

Intercourse may become painful as a result of menopause's hormone shifts. A decrease in estrogen levels may cause skin thinning in the genital region. It can also thin the lining of the vaginal canal and reduce lubrication.

Difficulty having an orgasm for women

Orgasm is thwarted by stress, especially by PTSD and fatigue.  When you have a low sex drive in women or your hormones are out of sync, achieving orgasm can be difficult.

Erectile dysfunction

When a man's penis cannot get or stay erect enough to participate in sexual activity, he is said to have erectile dysfunction. This can happen as a result of:

  • Blood flow problems
  • Disorder of the nerves
  • Penis injuries
  • Psychological problems, such as PTSD or stress, or even depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Medications

Ongoing erectile dysfunction can cause stress and anxiety. If you think you may have problems it is imperative to seek help.

Sexual discomfort in men

Men of all ages can experience sexual dysfunction, although older men are more likely to experience it. Ejaculation abnormalities, erectile dysfunction, and restricted sexual desire are the most frequent conditions associated with sexual dysfunction. Treatment of the underlying problems can typically resolve these difficulties.

The following physical factors may contribute to general sexual dysfunction:

  • Low testosterone levels
  • Prescription drugs
  • Blood vessel disorders and high blood pressure
  • A stroke or nerve damage
  • Heavy smoking
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

Psychological factors may include:

  • PTSD
  • Worrying about your sexual performance
  • Relationship problems
  • Bouts of depression
  • Guilty feelings
  • Past sexual trauma
  • Other stress and anxiety

Problems with ejaculation, obtaining and maintaining an erection, and reduced sexual desire is the most prevalent symptoms of sexual dysfunction in men.

Ejaculation disorders in men

Ejaculation which occurs before or shortly after penetration is known as premature ejaculation. This is frequently the result of performance anxiety. However, it could also be as a result of:

  • PTSD and other psychological stressors
  • Inhibitions about sex
  • Nerve damage
  • Medications

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must seek professional help.

When you should seek help

When sexual issues persist, both you and your partner may experience worry. If you don't talk about it, things could get out of hand.

It's time to seek professional help if the condition doesn't improve or you suspect a physical cause.

Your doctor will begin by performing a physical examination. This may be followed by diagnostic tests, depending on the outcome. Consider seeing a therapist if they can't uncover a physical cause.

Treating physical causes

The underlying cause determines treatment. Treating an underlying medical problem might sometimes bring the issue to closure. Sometimes, witching drugs may help.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction has advanced dramatically in recent years. Many men have had success with prescription drugs such as Viagra. Mechanical aids, penile implants, and surgery are some of the other options.

You can treat vaginal dryness with lubricating gels or lotions, as well as hormone therapy.

Treating psychological and emotional causes

Survivors may feel some or all of the following emotions in the weeks and months after a traumatic event:

  • Angry
  • Detached
  • Tense
  • Stressed
  • Worried

Most people are able to reclaim their previous level of intimacy in relationships over time. However, some survivors acquire PTSD and have long-term relationship issues.

Psychological counseling may help both you and your partner. A therapist can teach you how to cope with stress and anxiety. Joint counseling with your partner can help improve communication and increase intimacy.

Body sensations and physical problems, as well as sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm, are common numbing and intrusive symptoms after sexual assault or rape. As a consequence, traumatized people are more likely to have sexual desire disorders.

Sometimes, support and education about sexual behavior are all that you need. You can address body image and other inhibitions in counseling. For deeply rooted sexual dysfunction, psychotherapy may be necessary.

PTSD and sexual dysfunction

A diagnosis of PTSD may raise the risk of sexual dysfunction for a variety of reasons. For starters, excessive stress levels can impair sexual performance, and persons with PTSD are constantly anxious.

Furthermore, if you or your partner suffer from PTSD, you may feel isolated and distant from your loved ones, making intimacy difficult. Anger and irritation, which are common PTSD symptoms, have been known to interfere with relationships.

Also, PTSD has been linked to an increased chance of developing certain medical disorders that might lead to sexual dysfunction.

It is critical for you or your partner to seek medical care if you have PTSD and are having sexual difficulties. Sexual dysfunction often does not resolve itself without some form of intervention, and there are several effective treatments.

PTSD symptoms appear connected to many kinds of sexual dysfunction. Thus, it goes without saying, sexual issues may be reduced if you first treat the PTSD symptoms.

Long-term outlook

The longer a sexual problem persists, the more stress and worry you and your partner will experience. That has the potential to exacerbate the condition. The majority of the time, the treatment of sexual dysfunction has a positive outcome.

If you address it openly, you can reverse sexual dysfunction caused by stress or temporary situations, particularly post-traumatic stress. Deep-seated psychological problems may take longer to handle and treat. However, some never completely resolve, although you can improve them.

Break society's taboos Re: sexual dysfunction

It is critical to communicate. Talk to your partner if you're experiencing any sexual problems. Sexual dysfunction happens to most people at one time or another.

If it becomes an ongoing problem, don't be afraid to seek medical help. However, gentle encouragement might be useful if a loved one with PTSD is hesitant to seek therapy.

The good news is that we now live in a period when those with PTSD and sexual dysfunction can receive effective treatment.

Contact us to help you tear down any societal taboos regarding sexual dysfunction. We help you establish a safe and private refuge for you and anyone struggling with sexual issues. We provide a human-free method that you may use to work on your problem in privacy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We advise you speak to your doctor before embarking on your Blueheart journey if you have or think you may have PTSD.

If you feel ready
If you've spoken to a doctor or are already in therapy for PTSD and you're ready to try touch again, you can try Blueheart for free.
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