What Are the Effects of PTSD on Sex?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 April 2014
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Among the effects of PTSD on sex are a decrease in libido and, for some sufferers, a deliberate refraining from intimacy. While PTSD can prohibit some from having a healthy sexual relationship, treatment often helps. For some people, however, medications commonly prescribed for anxiety, including those prescribed for post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes have a diminishing affect on a person's sex drive. Although this is a chemically induced reduction in drive, many still consider this to be an effect of PTSD on sex.

Post traumatic stress disorder, frequently referred to as PTSD, is an emotional and psychological response to a sudden but extremely stressful event. In some cases, the reaction to such an event can also prompt a physical response as is found in studies of the effects of PTSD on sex. Some who suffer from this condition share that it is easier to experience sexual intimacy with a stranger than it is with a partner. Many report, however, that a complete decline in libido occurs as result of PTSD. Psychologists and other researchers who closely study the lives of people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder also report that this is sometimes the case.


One of the many different causes of PTSD is sexual trauma. In girls and women with PTSD, it is often found that a complete and ongoing lack of interest in sex or even extreme anxiety about sexual intimacy exists, particularly if the disorder was triggered by incest or rape. The effects of PTSD on a relationship may even require a woman and her partner to engage in counseling together in an effort to understand and overcome this disorder.

While many psychologists prescribe anti-anxiety medications for people with this condition, some medications have been known to cause a decline in sexual arousal. In some men with PTSD, medications have rendered them impotent. Although this is a common side effect of certain anti-anxiety medications, many consider this as also being related to the effect of PTSD on sex.

Treating PTSD can sometimes be difficult, particularly in people who do not respond well to medications. Other methods include psychotherapy and can be effective. Given time, many people can and do recover from post traumatic stress disorder and, as they do, the effect of PTSD on sex also diminishes. Natural treatments, such as meditation and hypnosis, are sometimes recommended as well.

In addition to the effect of PTSD on sex, other signs of PTSD include insomnia, social withdrawal and repeated flashbacks of the traumatic event. Physical symptoms include chest pains, profuse sweating and muscle twitches. Among more severe cases, people with PTSD may experience suicidal thoughts or may act aggressively toward others.


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