Sexual performance anxiety is extremely common, especially among men. There is a great deal of pressure in society to perform in sexual situations, as a person's lovemaking ability is often judged as a part of their personality.
Anxiety over sexual performance also tends to be self-sustaining. It can lead to issues like premature ejaculation or trouble getting aroused, and this contributes to sexual performance anxiety in the future. The following article describes causes and solutions to performance anxiety.
Control Anxiety to Stop Performance Problems
Not all performance anxiety is related to social anxiety or life anxiety, but often the two are related. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more about your anxiety and how to treat it.
Causes of Sexual Performance Anxiety
Many different issues can cause sexual performance anxiety. Often previous experiences are related to problems with performance. But one of the most common causes of sexual performance anxiety is simply suffering from anxiety. Take my anxiety test to learn more and get the treatment you need.
Other causes of performance anxiety include:
- Society Pressure Societal pressure is one of the most common causes of performance anxiety. Men worry that their ability to satisfy a woman affects how they're seen by the public, and women worry that men are going to judge them for their body or abilities. This type of pressure is exacerbated by the way that people are so public with their lives these days, often making societal pressure worse.
- Inexperience Inexperience can cause minor sexual dysfunctions that can lead to performance anxiety. Premature ejaculation, for example, is fairly common in those that have little to no sexual experience, and yet when it occurs it can cause a significant amount of shame, which ends up leading to the development of performance anxiety and, unfortunately, further sexual problems.
- Upsetting Sexual Encounters Sex is extremely prone to expectations and associations. So those that have ever had a fight, argument, or felt embarrassed for any reason in the bedroom because of a partner are going to be more likely to experience anxiety in future sexual situations. People are very sensitive about their sexual abilities, body, and more, and anything that may disrupt that sensitivity can lead to anxiety.
Sexual performance problems are also a side effect on some anxiety medications, and anxiety over sexual performance tends to be more common in those that you have never made love to in the past, often because of the pressure you put on yourself to perform.
How to Get Over Sexual Performance Anxiety
While it would be great to have some quick fix for sexual performance anxiety, like all forms of anxiety it is a long term process. Everyone can overcome these issues, but it takes work, dedication, and smart decisions. The following represent some important strategies for overcoming this anxiety:
- Tell Your Sexual Partner About It One of the worst things you can do when you have this type of performance anxiety is try to fight it without telling your partner. That will cause your anxiety to get much worse, and you'll pay too much attention to how every movement feels. Strongly consider telling your partner before you make love that you have this anxiety and the feelings it causes. Most likely your partner will understand, and the two of you can work on it together.
- Make Love Ideally, this partner will be someone that you can continue to be intimate with in the long term. Experience - especially with the same person - is a cure for sexual anxiety. That's because experience tells your mind that no matter your abilities, this partner isn't going away. It reduces the fear that your sexual performance is going to hurt your sex life.
- Don't Be Shy About Delivering Foreplay While some men and women struggle receiving foreplay when they have performance anxiety, they can still provide it. A great deal of performance anxiety relates to worries over how much the partner is enjoying the experience. You can reduce some of those worries by being more giving with foreplay, so that even if your sexual performance isn't what you or your partner wanted, your partner will still be satisfied.
- Exercise Being confident in your body and your energy is also an important part of overcoming sexual anxiety. The more you're not thinking about yourself and how you look, the easier it is to engage in sexual activity without stress. Strongly consider picking up exercise if you haven't yet to ensure that you're as confident as possible.
- Behavioral Practice Finally, don't forget about behavioral practice. This is more for men than women, but there are strategies (such as the stop/start masturbation method) that can improve your ability to make love confidently. You can also consider this same type of behavioral practice while making love. You and your partner can discuss strategies, and be open about needs and desires in order to have the best intimate moments possible.
Finally, you'll absolutely need to control your overall anxiety. Those that have anxiety are far more prone to experiencing anxiety in the bedroom, and no amount of practice is going to take that way.
I've worked with many people suffering from sexual performance problems in the past. You should start with my free 7 minute anxiety test now. It will deliver an anxiety snapshot that you can use to learn how to get started.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.