How Performance Anxiety Happens
When you feel anxious, your body activates its sympathetic nervous system resulting in, among other things, constriction of blood vessels and increases in production of stress hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This leads to an increase in blood pressure levels and a subsequent reduction in blood flow to parts of your body such as your penis.
This makes it much harder than normal to develop and keep an erection, affecting your ability to enjoy sex with your partner. Simply put, the psychological effects of performance anxiety lead to a physical response from your body that, in turn, makes sex more difficult.
What this means is that even men with none of the main physical causes of erectile dysfunction can have trouble getting an erection if they feel anxious or nervous before sex.
Performance anxiety can happen before sexual activity or during sex. During sex, performance anxiety can make it more difficult to orgasm, as anxiety over your sexual performance can make it tough to concentrate on the physical and emotional sensations of sex.
Over time, performance anxiety can have a significant negative effect on an individuals sex life, resulting in a reduced level of interest in sexual activity.
The Link Between Anxiety And Sex
If it seems like just about everyone you know is anxious about something these days well, thats because they are. Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental health issue in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults.
When a person senses a threat , their body instinctively switches into fight or flight mode. Should I stay and fight the snake in front of me, or book it to safety?
The chemicals that get released into the body during this process dont contribute to sexual desire. Rather, they put a damper on it, so a persons attention can be focused on the immediate threat.
In general, people who experience anxiety disorders in the rest of their lives are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, too, says Nicole Prause, PhD, a sexual psychophysiologist and licensed psychologist in Los Angeles.
Abstinence-only education tends to create a stigma and shame around sex that can continue into adolescence and adulthood, says Salas. Sex education that focuses only on pregnancy ignores the importance of sexual stimulation and pleasure. This can leave people looking to porn for their sex education can increase myths of sexual performance and increase anxiety.
The feel good hormones released during sex can even help combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
Feelings Are Not Fact
The emotional reasoning of âI feel it so it must be trueâ is inherently flawed. Feelings are not factual. However, this can be hard to logically reason with when anxious. Something to remind yourself of the next time your mind is swirling with sexual performance worries: just because you feel it doesnât make it true. This might lessen the power these thoughts have over your emotional response, .
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Show Yourself That It Works
If your penis works when you masturbate, you know your equipment is working from a physical perspective. However, if youre also having the same problems during masturbation, that may be the sign of a more serious issue that requires medical treatment.
Understanding your sexual response by practicing when you are by yourself is a good way to reinforce that there is nothing wrong with you and can help you start to build up your confidence.
Why We Get The Pre
Performance anxiety can clearly cause difficulties in all parts of your sex life and it can cause you to think play back negative sexual experiences over and over again in your mind. But whats causing the problem? Again, it depends.
Having a new sexual partner may trigger temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction because of performance anxiety to satisfy them, explains Dr Earim Chaudry. Yet, there are a host of other things that can affect your mindset when approaching sex too.
Heres some reasons why you may be getting the pre-performance nerves.
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Sometimes Its Your Body
Any new injuries, chronic pain, certain diseases, addictions, and gynecological issues can interfere with your ability to have sex or orgasm, which can lead to sexual frustration, says Garrison.
And same goes if the partner you usually have partnered sex with is dealing with one of these things.
Because sex during and right after childbirth can be painful or disinteresting to some vulva owners, its common for their partners to feel sexually frustrated during this time, he says.
Certain medications like antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , birth control, and beta-blockers are also known to have funky effects on libido and orgasm.
If you recently went on one of these medications, talk to your doctor about the side effects youre experiencing.
Common Causes Of Sexual Anxiety
There can be several causes of sexual anxiety, which can differ from person to person. You may have anxiety after sex or anxiety during sex.
“Sexual anxiety can be the result of an underlying medical condition,” says Dr Hertlein, expert advisor at Blueheart. “It could also be down to relationship factors, power struggles, fears, mood disorders, and other mental health issues. Cultural or religious factors are also often to blame for womens sex worries.”
The most common causes of sexual anxiety include:
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Believe Youre Good Enough
There are days in which you might feel like a walking hormone, but guess what: You are not your dick, or how it performs on any given day. You are not identical to an orgasm, said Cohen. You are not a mere mechanism. You are a being who can think, reason, act, feel, desire, and sense. So respect yourselfgood sex, after all, begins with self-respect.
Overcoming Performance Anxiety: Male Performance Anxiety Solutions
If you are wondering how to get over performance anxiety, youre not alone. Fortunately for you, there are a number of different non-medical treatments for treating performance anxiety. These should be attempted before a man turns to medical or pharmaceutical options, which are generally riskier and can lead to side effects.
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Four Ways To Help Relieve Premature Ejaculation
1. Open up about PE.
Premature ejaculation is a problem that causes many men to feel shamebut it shouldn’t, and its important to talk to your partner about it.
This is particularly important if PE is making you completely avoid sex. Odds are, your partner will be understanding and willing to work with you on ways to address it to ensure everyone is getting the sex they want. Sometimes that bit of reassurance may be all thats necessary for mild PE to go away, especially if it stems from anxiety.
2. Take the problem into your own hands.
There are a number of manual approaches you can use to reduce the frequency of PE. Two of the best known are the stop-start method and the squeeze technique. Choose one and practice either by yourself or with your partner.
In many cases, these exercises can solve the problem with no additional treatment necessary.
3. Start using a condom or choose a thicker one.
Adding an extra barrier is an easy way to reduce sensitivity and prevent premature ejaculation. Look for condoms that are advertised as “Extra Strength” or “Extra Safe.”
If youre new to using condoms, remember to use lots of lube in order to improve enjoyment and avoid causing pain and irritation.
4. Use a numbing spray or cream.
For immediate relief from premature ejaculation, consider a topical medication to help desensitize your penis.
What Causes Psychological Impotence
Psychological impotence is caused by anxiety or stress. If youre worried about your relationship, or insecure about how good you are in bed, its not uncommon for your penis to pay the price. How often have you thought…
- What if she thinks I’m too small?
- What if I can’t last long enough?
- What if she doesn’t have an orgasm?
- What if she doesn’t want to see me again?
- What if I can’t perform?
- What if I lose my erection?
In the heat of the moment, its these types of negative thoughts that can make you go soft. Thats how psychological impotence kicks you when youre down.
However, if youre fed up with feeling embarrassed or ashamed, and you want to find a way to stop all that anxious thinking, guided imagery could be the answer youre looking for.
Heard enough? Join the many men who have used guided imagery to get their sex lives back on track.
FTC Legal Disclaimer: Mental Impotence Healer’s staff are not doctors, and their advice is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before beginning any health program. The information contained within is not intended to provide specific physical or mental health advice, or any other advice whatsoever, for any individual or company and should not be relied upon in that regard. Please see our full FTC Legal Disclaimer for complete details.
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How To Overcome Sexual Anxiety
If your nerves are rooted in feeling pressure to perform, here are a few tips to help you get over sexual anxiety and back to connecting with your partner.
1. Focus on Connection Rather Than a Specific Result
Theres nothing wrong with heavy, passionate action with erotic sparks flying and perfectly timed orgasms. But its unrealistic to expect it to happen all the time. When we get hung up on the ideal sexual experience and dont achieve it, were disappointed. And those thoughts of well, whats wrong with me? start creeping in.
The thing is, theres no right way that sex is supposed to look like. And setting unrealistic expectations of yourself and the experience is setting you up for frustration. Sex becomes about achieving the perfect results and not about the physical and emotional connection you want to share with your partner.
Instead, focus on the connection youre sharing with your partner. If you find yourself focusing too much on the finish line, shift your focus to the current physical sensations. Instead of mentally evaluating and telling yourself a story of how things are going, tune back into the present moment.
2. Communicate With Your Partner
If you feel anxious during sex, tell your partner. Are things moving too fast? Do you need more foreplay? Tell them what kind of intimacy and touch you feel comfortable with.
3. Work on Intimate Touch Beyond Sexual Intercourse
4. Talk to a Sex Therapist
When To Get Help For Sexual Performance Anxiety
Occasional anxiety about sex is normal, particularly with a new partner. However, if performance anxiety is escalating, or has been occurring for longer than three months, it may be time to seek help with a medical professional and/or a sex therapist, especially if performance anxiety is occurring with more than one partner or is causing distress in other areas.
The sooner that underlying issues are addressed, the easier it will be to eliminate performance anxiety. Anxiety can easily become habitual and entrenched if not mitigated quickly. A sex therapist can help you, with or without a partner, to explore the anxiety cycle and offer interventions for reducing performance anxiety during sexual encounters.
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Male Sexual Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety, indeed! Thats precisely the problem: thinking of sex as a performance, as something we are doing that is being scrutinized and evaluated by an audience. This performance mindset leads many men to be self-conscious, self-critical, worried, tense and anxious while being sexual. This in turns often results in bringing about the very problem they were worrying about in the first place: erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or difficultly experiencing orgasm.
These sexual problems can be caused by various medical conditions, or may even result fromor be made worse byvarious medications you may taking. If you experience these problems frequently while being sexual with someone else, but seldom experience them while being sexual by yourself, then it is unlikely that a medical problem or medication is the principle cause. But if you are unsure, consult with your physician first for an assessment. In addition, there are medications available that can help with these sexual problems, although sometimes with side effects. In addition, these medications sometimes have the effect of reinforcing the tendency to focus on performance rather than pleasure, which keeps the problem alive.
Exercises To Improve Sexual Performance Anxiety
Often, sexual performance anxiety stems from worries not about being able to do it, but about how you look while youre doing it. As people get older they can get out of shape. The same applies for people who have had major surgery. However, when youre fit enough to do so you should consider starting an exercise routine. Improving your body can boost your confidence as youll be in a better physical shape. This matters because exercise pumps blood around the body, not only releasing endorphins, which improve your mood and reduce stress, but also making all your muscles perform better.
If you havent done much exercise in a while, you should take it slowly at first, and speak to your doctor before embarking on an exercise regime.
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Stop Being So Hard On Yourself
Generally, men with performance anxiety are pretty hard on themselves. They have high expectations of themselves and often experience negative thoughts. One of the best ways to move forward is by trying to clear out these negative thoughts and to stop being so hard on yourself.
Granted, this can be easier said than done. Make sure to pay attention to your internal dialogue what are you thinking about yourself? In many cases, our subconscious thoughts follow a pattern like this: I should have done better at that. Wow, I can never do that right. Jeez, I really messed up there.
These thoughts arent very constructive and can actually lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy self-image. By replacing these critical thoughts with things like, Im getting better at this, or I tried my best there, we open up more opportunities for ourselves to actually improve.