Real estate agent Virender Rathod observed an interesting trend in his life. His sex life was up when the property prices peaked and nosedived when they came down! It didn't take the shrewd businessman much to calculate that when he was stressed, he was less frisky in bed. Funny it may be, but not every infertility story is humorous.
Stress and sex make for strange bedfellows! Although there are no exact figures, experts say infertility has gone up to almost 30 per cent in the last two decades. And stress remains the most important killer for activity between the sheets.
In a dog-eat-dog world, where work hours have expanded and leisure time shrunk, spouses hold each other's hand with cell phones stuck to their ears. Laptops and phones are must-haves on vacations. In a nuclear family, working couples who pick up their children on their way home to ready-to-eat dinners are ideal couples. Divorce rates have never been this high in history, yet there's no time to grieve or pick up the pieces.
Infertility experts and counsellors are shocked at the country's shrinking libido, thanks to stress! In a worrying trend, it's hitting as many women as men, and when they're still young. Gynaecologist Dr Meeta Shah says, "The compulsion to plan one's life down to minute details is playing havoc in urban relationships. Forget conception, both men and women are finding it difficult to even perform!"
A global survey on sexual well-being conducted by the condom manufacturer Durex shows that Indians are low on sexual satisfaction. Just 46 per cent of Indians orgasm, according to the study. And, while 55 per cent Indian males achieve orgasm, only 26 per cent Indian women can say the same.
Stress remains a constant in a country that has seen a worrying rise in male and female infertility over the years. But does stress lead to impotence? Clinically, stress can be directly responsible for erectile dysfunction. It is known to increase the production of adrenaline, while it decreases nitric oxide, which is a muscle relaxant. So, when you are stressed, nerve impulses constrict vessels and smooth muscles in the male organ, thereby reducing the blood flow that causes an erection.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 48 per cent of Americans report their stress levels have risen over the past five years. Surveys report that between 20 and 52 per cent of American women say their sex drive isn't what it used to be.
Says psychiatrist Dr Jitender Nagpal, "Stress is a double-edged sword. It's a key motivator, but also has a tremendous hold over our physical and psychological well-being, and therefore our sex lives."
Take this: A 2003 survey stated that Indians made love 138 times a year. The same survey put Indians at a respectable eighth place, behind a clutch of Slavic nations and the French as the nations. But, the numbers have slipped since! Today, 60 per cent Indians say that sex is fun, enjoyable, and a vital part of life. However, due to stress, only 44 per cent are fully satisfied with their sex lives.
Dr Prakash Kothari observes, "Work, family, kids, parties, networking... there's no end to hyper activities. Sexual priorities are changing for a stressed out nation. People are looking for the softer, more gentler side of sex — quality time with partners, romance and a sense of security within the bedroom."
It's surprising that with so much salacious sex happening around us, very less action is taking place in the conjugal bed! Marriage counsellor Pallavi B Gillani says, "t's true that feeling loved, respected and secure all impact strongly on our ability to achieve sexual satisfaction, but thrill is the main driver of dynamic sex."
Experts say that psychological impotence is the real killer of physical love. "Just snap out of it!" says Dr Kothari, adding, "Prevent it from ruining your sex life. Try stress management techniques — they are real and they work. Make some lifestyle changes if necessary — change your diet, exercise regularly, stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake. If your job is causing you undue stress, get a new one."
Make stress your slave, not your master. Chances are that it's all in your mind!