A good place to start if you're looking to understand the relationship between sex and stress is understanding that it's a cyclical one. On one side, sex can reduce stress, which can motivate people to want more sex. On the other side, stress can make people not want to have sex, which can create more stress (particularly in a partner relationship). "It's a complicated relationship and they're so tightly related that it can be hard to separate out the stress from sexual problems and vice versa," says Downs. That is why it's important to look at both your sex life and stress level if you're experiencing problems in either area.