Other Symptoms

Anxiety and Sexual Function & Genital Issues

This article has been fact-checked by our medical staff

Fact Checked

by Calm Clinic Editorial Team and Micah Abraham, BSc

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

Anxiety and Sexual Function & Genital Issues

While anxiety can cause a number of different chances in your body, the reality is that none can cause as much anxiety as problems with your genitals. No matter if you are a man or woman, young or old, married or single, no one likes the idea that something is affecting them in their most private of areas.

Even though it may seem strange, there are symptoms of anxiety related to the genital areas, and they can cause a significant amount of stress. The following are some of the genital symptoms of anxiety.

Your Anxiety Levels

While your mentally or physically-based sexual dysfunction may be causing you a great deal of anxiety, what you may not have realized is that anxiety may be one of its root causes.

Sex helps humans to relieve stress and feel better. At the same time, in most settings it is considered a taboo topic surrounded by insecurity, discomfort and the sense that talking about it is inappropriate. If you are having a mental or physical sex-related problem caused by anxiety, the idea of talking about and addressing the problem can be almost as stressful as the problem itself.

The following is an overview of the kinds of mental and physical genital symptoms that can be caused by anxiety (for both men and women), and what can be done about it.

Physical Anxiety-Based Genital Symptoms

Whether you are a man or a woman, developing physical anxiety-based genital problems can cause even more anxiety, which ends up making the problem even worse.

For men, physical symptoms are more obvious and may cause them to question their manhood (as defined by popular culture). The self-doubt involved with these problems can result in cycles of negative and anxious thinking that can result in behavior that may be very harmful both socially and physically (such as overeating, secluding themselves from society or even trying to compensate for their problems through unnecessary and embarrassing behavior). Anxiety about these genital symptoms thereby causes behaviors that can result in further anxiety down the road in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Here are some examples of the physical genital symptoms that cause and may be caused in part by anxiety in men:

Men may also experience perceived physical issues that may not be there. For example, someone with anxiety is more likely to think their genitals have shrunk or look abnormal, when in fact they look perfectly normal.

For women, physical symptoms may be (but are not always) less obvious, and can be socially stigmatizing. Some examples of the physical genital symptoms that can both cause and result in anxiety in women include:

Acting Funny: Mental Anxiety-Based Genital Symptoms

For both men and women, anxiety can cause problems not only with how the genitals look and feel, but also with sexual performance.

Not being able to perform adequately can be a big cause of stress, not only due to your inability to enjoy sex fully but also due to the tensions it can cause in a relationship. If your partner gets frustrated with your ability to perform or believes it is their fault, it can cause even more stress and make it even harder to enjoy sex.

While medications and supplements are available to treat some mental and physical problems (erection stimulant pills for men and vaginal stimulant pills, lotions or gels for women, as well as relaxing but gender-nonspecific herbal supplements such as kava-kava, passionflower or damiana), there are also non-medical routes you can take.

Here are some tips on coping with anxiety-based sex problems:

While it is important for both men and women to reduce anxiety in order to avoid genital symptoms such as the ones described above, it is also important to be safe when engaging in sexual activities so that STD-related symptoms do not crop up whenever anxiety hits.

Ask your partner about any unusual symptoms they have (in a caring and sensitive way, as this too can cause stress in a relationship), and always use condoms and/or dental dams for protection (even when using birth control) in order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

If you take care of yourself and stay aware of your partner's needs, it will be easy to keep your sexual relationship anxiety and unpleasant genital symptom-free.

You should also start addressing your overall anxiety as well, since the more you can reduce your anxiety the fewer anxiety related genital problems you'll have.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

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Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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