Content written by Irwin Goldstein MD

Anxiety can impact a woman’s quality of life in many ways. Often times a woman experiencing anxiety will report distress due to constant worrying and difficulty controlling these worries. Women with anxiety may experience symptoms of restlessness, fatigue, concentration difficulties, irritability, muscle tension, and disturbed sleep. Other conditions that may be associated with stress (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, headaches) may accompany symptoms of anxiety. Each of these symptoms alone may be enough to negatively influence a woman’s sexual function.

The relationship between anxiety and sexuality in women has been found to be extremely complex. Anxiety can decrease sexual desire and inhibit orgasm, although a certain amount of a specific type of anxiety may enhance sexual arousal and orgasmic function. Research indicates that when women are asked to participate in activities that increase sympathetic nervous system activity (e.g. watch frightening films, exercise, take the drug ephedrine, etc.) their sexual response may be heightened. It appears that sexual arousal and orgasm require a delicate balance between relaxation and tension/anxiety.