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Work Woes

Work Woes

Sex difficulties for busy people

Work worries, job insecurity and long hours are detrimental to our sex lives. In the Sex Census 2012* (a joint report from Relate and Ann Summers) large numbers of Brits complained that they were too exhausted for sex, despite the fact that they wanted more than they were getting.

In the survey some 24% of men reported being too tired for sex. Furthermore, 20% of women said they too were often too knackered for any raunchiness. It’s a state of affairs that causes great frustration. Some 63% of men in the survey and 50% of women said they wanted more sex than they were getting.

Our long work culture, coupled with job insecurity means more and more of us are making love less often than we used to.

“When I first moved in with my husband, we had sex almost every night. Now we only do it once a month,” laments one high-powered executive, “I think it’s because both of us are exhausted.”

The impact of long hours on sex drive:

If you are tired, you are unlikely to have much strength left for sex. Combine fatigue with stress and your sex drive is likely to nosedive. Stress can affect the production of hormones in the brain. The amount of the stress hormone cortisol increases while sex hormones such as testosterone in men and progesterone and oestrogen in women dip adversely affecting sexual desire.

Excessive work can cause the following sexual difficulties:

  1. Less time for sex
  2. Less interest in sex
  3. Less variation during sex
  4. More difficulty relaxing in bed
  5. Insufficient lubrication pre-intercourse in women
  6. More difficulty reaching a climax
  7. Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection in men
  8. Relationship problems as your sex life starts to suffer

What changes can I make?

Changes need to be ones that bring better balance into your life. Changes will also benefit your health as well as your love life.

Relationship changes:

  1. Be honest with your partner - Tell them how you are feeling so they can begin to understand the situation
  2. Give your partner some attention
  3. Think about how you talk to your partner - Don’t bring work talk home. Talk to your partner in a loving way.
  4. Don't let work follow you into weekends and holidays
  5. Make sex special
  6. Add variety in the bedroom

Lifestyle changes to reduce stress

These need to be changes that benefit your mental and physical health which in turn will help your love life.

Eat breakfast - research has shown eating first thing in the morning helps stablise blood sugar levels which regulate appetite and energy levels.

Keep energy levels up - snack on banana, oats, nuts, salads and fruits to keep well-fuelled when you are hard at work.

Take a lunch break

Drink more water - dehydration can make some people tense and irritable, drink water throughout day.

Cut your coffee intake to a maximum of two or three cups a day.

Exercise more - try simple things like getting off the bus or train two stops early or parking your car a few streets away and walk to work. At the office, take stairs instead of lifts between floors. In one study from the US even a little exercise (equivalent to a leisurely walk) was associated with a 20% increase in energy levels.

What if these changes don’t work?

Psychosexual counselling may help (either arranged privately, through an organisation such as Relate, or via your GP). The counsellor will allow you and your partner to discuss any sexual or emotional issues that may be contributing to the problem.

If the dip in sex drive is due to depression a GP may recommend antidepressants or psychological therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy is also sometimes offered as a treatment for low libido. Treatments come in the form of pills, skin patches, gels, mouth patches or injections and implants. Men will only be offered this if a blood test confirms that testosterone levels are low.

Alternative Remedies & Self-help:

A decent workout between 45-60 minutes in a single routine. A lack of physical exercise can lower testosterone levels.

Relaxation and good sleep - both are key to elevating sex drive. Yoga or tai chi are good ways of relaxing the body and the mind. While regular exercise can increase your chances of sleeping well at night.

The herb ginkgo biloba is often cited as a libido-booster. It’s said to improve circulation and so not surprisingly is sometimes used as a natural remedy by men with erectile dysfunction. Women may benefit because it is said to improve blood flow to the female sex organs.

Ginseng is another natural remedy popularly said to enhance libido and to boost energy levels.

As with most herbal treatments more research is needed to ascertain whether these alternative suggestions are effective and safe.