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Have an Amazing Orgasm: De-Stress

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Sex can certainly relieve stress, but too much tension increases the likelihood you’ll turn in for the night fully clothed. “Stress can not only interfere with a woman’s sex drive, but it can also interfere with her ability to orgasm, since it makes it harder to concentrate on sensation and relax during sex,” says Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., author of Unlocking the Sexy in Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life. (Don't forget to avoid these Common Libido-Crushers.)

It’s not just a distracted brain, though—anxiety and worrying have a very real effect on your body. For starters, stress causes you to produce fewer sex hormones (like estrogen and testosterone), and more cortisol and cortisol byproducts, or stress hormones. When your body releases cortisol, your fight or flight response kicks in, telling your system to prioritize survival over sex. It redirects blood flow away from the sex organs, and causes you to breathe shallowly (making it more difficult for you to inhale deeply and relax), Brandon explains. Even more: women with high salivary cortisol and stress levels had a significantly lower desire to either masturbate or have sex with a partner, reports a University of Michigan study.

Work deadlines, job changes, and illnesses are obviously taxing. But moves, marriages, and other positive changes can be stressful too, says Brandon. Tackle those with help from 8 of Life’s Biggest Shake-Ups, Solved, and put your brain and body in the mood for love—no matter what's stressing you out—with these four tips.

Make Your Foreplay Do Double-Duty
Kill two birds with one stone by opting for sexy stress-relievers as foreplay, like taking a bath or scoring a massage from your man, suggests Brandon. Not only will this help you relax enough to become fully aroused, but it’ll help him last long enough for you to reach the big O. The average man takes anywhere from three to seven minutes to climax, while the average woman requires anywhere from 10 to 20—this missed connection is considered the arousal gap, says Laurence A. Levine, M.D., professor at Rush University Medical Center. 

Practice Yoga
Your body has a natural stress-resistant system, and yoga can help activate this relaxation response, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Whether you’re a long-time yogi or new to the mat, just 15 minutes of yoga-like relaxation techniques can trigger biochemical changes in the brains and cells, the study shows. Plus, yoga can help improve desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm in women, says a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Hit the Gym
“Remember that exercise reduces stress levels, so that’s always a good choice for stress prevention and stress management,” Brandon adds. And it’s not just blowing off steam that’ll help: Building muscles at the gym will actually help your performance in bed. How? Find out with Have an Amazing Orgasm: Move More.

Solidify Your Support
People in committed relationships have less of a physiological response to stress than singles, reports a study in Stress. Meanwhile, people with deep and meaningful relationships—including platonic—were better able to cope with stress, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Review. The takeaway: A healthy support system helps you through hard times. Who knew your friends could be so instrumental in your sex life? 

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