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The Intersection of Mental Health and Women’s Sexual Wellbeing

April 11, 2023

This week’s guest post addresses Mental Health and Women’s Sexual Wellbeing.

Black and White Photo of a couple in matching white shirts

The topic of sexuality and mental health may not be as taboo as they once were, but they still make people uncomfortable when they come up.

It is especially true if they are facing some kind of problem with them.

Most people prefer to deal with these problems on their own. Doing this, unfortunately, often leads to complications and makes their resolution more complicated later on.

Newer research increasingly suggests the mutual connection between sexual and mental health and the need to look at this issue slightly differently.

Most people often perceive sex as a purely physical experience, but it’s well known that much of our sex life is more about our brains.

In this text, we are talking about the intersection of mental health and women’s sexual well-being and the ways to deal with the troubles that may occur.

How sexual and mental health are interconnected

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of harmonious psychological and social functioning of the personality. This implies the absence of mental disorders but also pronounced conflicts in personal and social life with unwanted consequences.

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease.

From the given definitions, it is clear that both aspects of our well-being are closely related to the quality of social interactions we accomplish and the intimacy essential to us as social beings.

Our mental health affects our ability to interact socially and, therefore, our sexual health.

This relationship is also valid in the reverse direction. Knowing how these two components of our lives affect each other will allow us to understand better behaviours that can harm our overall well-being.

A stressed woman

Ways a healthy sex life supports good mental health

Sex is a fundamental socio-emotional function for all, and its lack can negatively affect our mental health and self-image.

On the other hand, a healthy sex life has many benefits, including:

Releases neurotransmitters that are good for our mental health

Sex and orgasm stimulate the release of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

These hormones affect mood and are very effective in the fight against depression. They also lower cortisol and blood pressure.

Relieves pain and anxiety

All the mentioned hormones have a role in reducing the feeling of pain and, as mood regulators, will reduce the feeling of anxiety.

Increases the sense of self-esteem

Sex with a partner you love will increase the feeling of intimacy.

It also allows you to appreciate your body. All this while remembering that you are desirable to your partner boosts self-confidence and satisfaction.

Improves your sleep

Sex also improves sleep quality by releasing prolactin, a hormone that helps you feel rested and relaxed. The same effect on sleep has the already mentioned oxytocin.

Sex and anxiety

Women who struggle with anxiety may have trouble getting aroused or having an orgasm.

In some cases, they may feel physical pain during intercourse which is ten times more common in women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

A frequent phenomenon in women but also men with anxiety is arousal inconsistency. It means the body is excited when the mind is not, or vice versa.

Image of an anxious woman - mental health affects sexual health

Sex and bipolarity

Bipolar disorder usually causes an increase in libido (sex drive) during manic episodes.

Such increased sexuality can be characterized as hypersexuality or compulsive sexual behaviour.

People facing such problems are at higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, maintain your medication regimen.

Understand your triggers, like a change in your sleep pattern, alcohol misuse or drug intoxication.

Try to communicate with your partner about them. Familiarize yourself with safe sex practices and condom use.

A woman holding her baby - mental health can affect sexual wellbeing during and after pregnancy

Mental health and women’s sexual wellbeing: postpartum depression

It is natural and expected for women to face specific difficulties after pregnancy.

And not just after – mental health struggles can occur even before giving birth while the woman is still pregnant.

As we mentioned, it is far from rare that a woman faces anxiety, depression, and confusion after childbirth.

Paranoia and mania are not off the table, but it’s not quite as frequent.

If you are a first-time mom, all of this confusion and imbalance might scare you, but remember that you can visit a therapist any time and talk about your thoughts.

You just brought life to this world, and your hormones are practically wild, so do not get frightened. It is all normal.

How mental health affects sex drive

Mental health and women’s sexual well-being go hand in hand.

That means that mental state and health heavily impact sex drive.

People who suffer from depression are likely to have a lower sex drive and anorgasm, which can cause disagreements and quarrels between two partners.

Medication is not very helpful in this case. Many anti-depressants are not suitable for the libido.

If you have this problem, seek help from your therapist. And maybe speaking to your partner is even more important than talking to a therapist. Tell them how you feel and see how you can fix the situation.

A woman and a man holding hands - mental and sexual wellbeing

Hormonal contraception

It is for the best that you discuss the topic of hormonal contraception with your doctor.

It might not happen to everyone, but studies have shown that hormonal contraception can cause depression and poor mental health in many cases.

You need to prepare yourself for the side effects of using hormonal contraception, whether they happen to you or not.

Listen to what your doctor has to say, and if you want to play it on the safe side and not sacrifice your mental health, you can consider non-hormonal birth control options.


Mental health and women’s sexual well-being depend on each other.

Your mental state will affect your sex drive and sexual health and vice versa.

You need to take care of both properly. If you have any problems of this sort, talking to a therapist can help as well.

Contact us to learn more about this topic.

Author’s Bio: Kayla Johnson is a professional therapist who works with Little Creek Recovery experts. Through her writing, she helps people with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. She likes to go to dance classes in her free time with her friends.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practicing Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
To discuss your condition, please get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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