Sexual health. Mental health. Both arguably some of the most taboo health topics in Nigeria and to be honest, worldwide. Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the world and one of the worlds leading causes of disability. A lack of appropriate services and of trained health professionals, especially in primary care, as well as the social stigma associated with mental disorders, are some of the barriers to accessing appropriate care. Sounds a lot like some of the issues surrounding sexual health doesn’t it?
Since people are embarrassed to talk about sexual health, scared to mention mental health it’s no surprise that people certainly don’t want to speak of both together!
Depression can affect every facet of your life and your sex life is one of them. How?
We’re about to tell you...
Depression and sexuality
A bit of science
When we talk about our sex organs, we automatically think genitals but actually the most sensitive sex organ is the brain! Sexual desire starts here and then makes its way down.
Our brain is full of chemicals called neurotransmitters. When we’re ‘in the mood’ these chemicals stimulate blood flow to our sex organs making us even more in the mood.
How Depression affects sexuality
In depression, some of the chemicals we’ve mentioned can be out of balance leading to a reduction or loss of sexual desire (libido).
Low levels of these chemicals can dull the feelings of pleasure.
These changes can place a strain or relationships and this can in turn affect sexual desire further.
The pressure to perform sexually can make you anxious and guess whatttt?! Anxiety can affect sexual desire so it can be a bit of a vicious cycle.
Medication - unfortunately, one of the potential side effects of antidepressant medication is sexual problems. For some people it can make achieving orgasm more difficult. For men, it can sometimes make it difficult to get or keep an erection. For both men and women sexual problems can affect self-confidence which can further potentiate the problem. It can also affect recovery from depression.
What can you do about it?
Don’t be embarrassed - sexual difficulties are common. A lot more common than you think!
Discuss with your doctor - if you’re experiencing sexual difficulties due to your anti-depressant medication, let your doctor know. They may be able to switch you to a medication that has less side effects/less impact on sexual functioning.
Talk to your partner - be open and honest with your partner. Don’t be alone in this.
Focus on yourself and feeling better. As depression improves people often find that their libido and sexual experiences improve!
Some final thoughts!
Your sexual health and mental health are often strongly intertwined. If you’re experiencing depression, make sure you speak to someone! It’s a condition that can be well-treated and you should never feel embarrassed or alone. The impact depression can have on someone’s sex life is not something many people feel comfortable talking about but there is a well established linked between libido and your sex drive!
We hope that you’ve learnt something new today. Have any thoughts on this topic? Comment below! If you have personally been affected by anything we’ve spoken to, feel free to send us a private message via our contact us page and one of our team will get back to you promptly!
Thanks for reading!
Until next time.....
Your friends at SHAKE Africa