Not just stress and hormones: 4 factors that affect your desire

It is well known that stress, hormonal status and migraines affect our sexuality. But who would have thought that the following factors could also have an influence …?

Our understanding of sexuality – like so much else – has changed and developed significantly over the past few decades. For a long time, sexuality was a taboo subject in public and extremely shameful (as many of the terms that are still in use today, such as pubic area, labia, etc. document). That prevented or made it more difficult for sex education for many years. For example, according to the WHO classification ICD (“International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems”), homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 1991; transsexuality was only removed from the directory in May 2019. In the latest version, the ICD-11, the WHO dedicates a separate chapter to sexual health, “Conditions Related to Sexual Health”, in which sexual dysfunctions such as pleasure or pain disorders are mentioned. From this we can see very clearly: After centuries of taboos and silence about sexuality, the trend is moving in a positive direction – but we still have a lot to catch up with.

Sexuality is more than we think

Dr. Laura Hatzler is a sexologist at the Charité Berlin and is making a contribution to this catch-up with her work. As part of her current FDCK study (“Female Desire, Communication and Knowlegde Survey”), she and her team are investigating the relationships between body awareness, communication and needs in women in order to better understand female sexuality in particular. (Exciting: Anyone who would like to actively support this can easily be done here anonymous at the FDCK study participate – participation not only benefits research and medical progress, but also promotes self-reflection and mindfulness.)

While many people think of sexual intercourse, sexual orientations and perhaps also pornography and the sex toy industry when it comes to sexuality, scientists are now largely in agreement that sexuality is actually much more extensive and plays a far greater role in different areas of life than is usually clear to us. “Sexuality has different dimensions,” Laura Hatzler tells us in an interview. “There is the aspect of procreation, sexual experiences with other people, with and for yourself, as part of a relationship and as part of our identity and our self-image.” According to her, our mental and physical condition as well as our social network are inextricably linked with our sexuality. And so – in addition to classics such as stress, migraines and other physical impairments – the following factors, for example, can have a direct or indirect effect on our sense of pleasure, our sex life and other dimensions of our sexuality.

4 surprising factors that affect our sexuality

1,007, Netflix, Prime and Co.

In a scientific study, it is difficult to map which changes the representations of sexuality in the media bring about in the regions of the brain that are relevant for sexual experience. But according to Laura Hatzler, it is more than likely that our perceptual habits will affect our sexuality. And that can have positive and negative effects at the same time. “It is good that sexuality is increasingly being removed from the taboo, but a lot of media that we consume in everyday life currently give us a rather narrow picture, namely an idealized and standardized one that is pleasurable,” says the scientist.

Sex goes smoothly in most movies and series. Whether after an argument for reconciliation, as an ultimate declaration of love or because oh so unexpectedly there are still 15 minutes before someone has to go to work – most of the people we see are apparently absolutely okay with their sexuality and lust and have none Problems having and enjoying intercourse. However, this does not correspond to the reality of a large number of people: Sexual dysfunction is particularly common in women. And the misconceptions that our medial perceptual habits create in our heads can worsen these disorders or the perceived suffering. “It can make people feel pressured and unsettled,” says Laura Hatzler. “Out of the concern that they are not normal or not desirable, they develop inhibitions about talking about their wishes, needs or problems.”

In short: If we are shown again and again how people use the extra quarter of an hour before work for a quickie, at some point we consider this to be normal and doubt ourselves if we do not feel pleasure at every unexpected opportunity. These doubts, in turn, may stand in the way of exploring and living out our personal, individual sexuality.

2. The Insta feed

And, according to the sex researcher, our perceptual habits also play a role in our sexuality in another respect: They shape our self-image and our body feeling. No matter how clear we are rationally and consciously that beauty can take all possible forms. But if we z. B. Seeing mostly toned, toned bodies in our Insta-Feed does something to us. It makes it difficult for us to feel comfortable and desirable if we deviate from it. On the one hand, this can trigger inhibitions and insecurities that prevent us from enjoying partner-like sex or masturbation. On the other hand, it can challenge and imbalance our identity. Since our sexuality is in turn part of our identity, this imbalance can also affect them and influence them in their other dimensions.

3rd grade 6

Whether in grade 6, sooner or later – at some point we all have sex education or sex education lessons in school. And it can shape our sexuality for life. “If, as children, we are only taught how to use condoms correctly and how to protect ourselves from illness, this can result in a rather negative and possibly even fearful image,” says Laura Hatzler. This can make it difficult for us to find a pleasurable, self-effective and carefree approach to sex, to our own sexuality and our own limits.

4. Relationship with mom and dad

Whether or not we met mom and dad as children having sex or not: According to Laura Hatzler, what is important for our sexuality is the relationship we had with them, how well we felt at home and what attachment behavior our upbringing gave us. “The type of attachment we have affects how we communicate our needs, how much closeness and intimacy we allow and perceive as pleasant, or how important it is to us to satisfy others,” says the scientist. For example, a person with a fearful attachment style may always put their own desires and sexuality aside in order to please their partner, while secure attachment types will both set limits and act out fantasies (here you can find out which attachment types are used in psychology differs).

Sources used:,, exclusive interview with Dr. Laura Hatzler