ED Basics

Negative Effects of Stress on Male Performance

June 13, 2022

It's only when something gets in the way of performing in the bedroom that you begin to appreciate that unfettered ability to get intimate on-demand.

It's easy to take a strong erection for granted...until it isn't.

When trouble strikes, it can be darn frustrating, but problems with performance are more common than you might think. Over 50% of guys over the age of 40 have experienced erectile dysfunction, and estimates are that prevalence increases to over 70% for guys in their 70s!

Men's sexual abilities are highly complex at a biological level and require a variety of physiological systems. The highly interconnected nature of the male sexual response means that even far-flung health conditions can impact sexual health, including contributing to erectile dysfunction.

A prime example is the effect of stress on male sexual performance. Feeling stressed every once in a while is part of life, but chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body––including sexual abilities. 

Below is a closer look at the physiological and psychological impacts of stress on sexual performance. 

How Can the Physical Effects of Stress Contribute to Sexual Dysfunction?

Believe it or not, stress in moderation is healthy. It serves as a mechanism to protect and even motivate you to take action.

The stress response is a product of thousands of years of evolution and is the fundamental basis of the "fight or flight response." What's that?

When you become stressed, the body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your heart rate, increase respiration, reduce "unnecessary" bodily functions, and more. These actions are all part of preparing your body to fight a perceived threat or to flee from it. They send your nervous system into overdrive. 

While the fight or flight response was incredibly helpful in early human history due to predators and common dangers, in today’s modern era many of the stresses encountered day-to-day do not require a drastic response.

As such, we're left with stress hormones and a stress reaction where we may not necessarily need it. 

The chronic release of these stress hormones is the primary detrimental aspect of stress. Over time, elevated stress can lead to high blood pressure, irritability, headaches, tense muscles, and more.

Chronic stress can increase the risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and issues with the digestive system — all of which can also affect your body’s ability to perform in the bedroom.

Below is a closer look at the ways stress can impact the body, which can contribute to negative effects on male performance. 

Weight Gain

One common occurrence that arises with chronic stress is weight gain.

The stress hormone cortisol, in particular, has been linked to weight gain. Though cortisol is essential in the human stress response, the frequent or chronic exposure associated with long-term stress can contribute to over-eating, changes in glucose metabolism, and weight gain.

In terms of the sexual ability of men, being overweight increases your risk of developing of sexual dysfunctions like ED.

Chronic stress can also contribute to low testosterone, a contributor to weight gain.

Obesity and erectile dysfunction are closely linked, and since stress can lead to weight gain this amalgamation of contributing factors can influence male sexual performance in more way than one. 

Cardiovascular Issues

Chronic stress places strain on the cardiovascular system. Elevated stress hormones contribute to an increase in cardiac output, which can lead to hypertension. 

Hypertension and erectile dysfunction have a well-defined association. When stress becomes enough of an issue to cause hypertension, it can start to impact sexual function and your ability to attain or maintain an erection. 

How Can the Psychological Effects of Stress Contribute to Sexual Dysfunction?

The impacts of stress not only affect your body at a physiological level but also at the psychological level — your mental state and wellbeing. 

You've no doubt felt the affects of stress through fatigue, trouble focusing or staying alert, and even changes in mood and behavior. 

Relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, therapy, and meditation can all help combat these symptoms of stress, but unaddressed chronic stress can severely impact quality of life.

Below is a closer look at the ways stress can impact you mentally and subsequently impact your sex life. 

Psychological Erectile Dysfunction

Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety are all closely related and all have the ability to result in physiological changes.

These mental health concerns are the primary basis by which psychological erectile dysfunction occurs.

Psychological erectile dysfunction refers to erectile dysfunction with its roots in mental health. This form of erectile dysfunction can be more difficult to treat in many situations. Other root causes of ED such as hypertension can be largely resolved with medication and physical exercise, but psychological ED may require a more concerted effort (including therapy and similar stress coping techniques) for resolution.

Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed can reduce libido, as sex simply gets little priority. And in many cases, depression or anxiety can be caused by ED. One of the challenges in treating psychological ED relates to which is causing which, or that the two are closely linked. Sometimes psychological ED can even be resolved with the help of ED medications like Viagra® (sildenafil) that overcomes the physical limitations to help men get their confidence back.

Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation occurs when you ejaculate before you intend to or anticipate, and stress can contribute to the problem

When you're stressed, even with short-term stress, your body is in a heightened aroused state, which can inadvertently lead to premature ejaculation during intimacy. 

Additionally, ejaculating prematurely can contribute to feelings of inadequacy that fuel anxiety or stress, particularly related to relationships. 

The Takeaway

Stress has wide and far-reaching effects on the human body, contributing to physical and psychological sources of erectile dysfunction and male performance.

Due to the complex interconnected nature of the male sexual response, stress can contribute to a variety of hurdles with bedroom performance.

If you think chronic stress is contributing to poor performance for you, a prescription medication from Rex MD may be able to help. Rex MD helps guys get common men's health medications like Viagra and Cialis® online at affordable prices. If approved, they're sent to your door. 

One of our licensed clinicians can help. Get started with our short questionnaire to find out if prescription medication is for you.



Physiology, Stress Reaction - StatPearls | NCBI

Erectile Dysfunction and Hypertension: Impact on Cardiovascular Risk and Treatment | NCBI

Premature ejaculation - Symptoms and causes. | Mayo Clinic