Understanding Sexual Performance Anxiety
If you have been having trouble in the bedroom, identifying the cause is the first step in working toward a solution. You may be dealing with sexual performance anxiety (SPA), and you are certainly not alone. It’s estimated that up to 25% of males and up to 16% of females may have sexual performance anxiety.
Sexual performance anxiety is worry or fear about sexual activity that can inhibit your sexual arousal and desire. SPA manifests as nervousness before sex in anticipation of failure or letting your partner down. It even occurs during sexual intercourse affecting your ability to focus and enjoy sex.
Although performance anxiety sexually is not an official diagnosis, it is widely accepted to be a significant factor in sexual dysfunctions. So rather than letting sexual performance anxiety create a barrier to your sexual satisfaction, let’s dive into what causes SPA and sexual performance anxiety treatment options.
What Causes Sexual Performance ANxiety?
Feeling nervous or worried before or during sex is the main symptom of sexual performance anxiety. Feeling this stress about sexual activities causes biological responses within the body, releasing hormones and dilating/constricting different blood vessels. This cascade of events in your body is due to the involuntary fear you feel about your ability to perform sexually, and it can make it extremely difficult to concentrate and enjoy sex.
So what are typical causes of performance anxiety sexually?
- Worry about your ability to satisfy your partner.
- Issues of self-esteem, specifically in regards to your body.
- Concern about your ability to stay erect, reach orgasm, or premature ejaculation.
- Consuming pornography.
- Problems within your relationship or feeling disconnected.
- Outside stressors (work, finances, family, etc.)
- Past sexual failure.
- Sexual trauma.
Below we will address solutions to these common causes of sexual performance anxiety.
Sexual Performance Anxiety Treatment
If you are struggling with performance anxiety sexually, don’t get down. There is help out there! Below you can find a sexual performance anxiety treatment to help you get back on track.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy attempts to change the patterns of thinking and behaviors that negatively affect your life. For example, this type of therapy could improve your sexual performance anxiety by targeting the thought patterns leading to stress around sex and intimacy. In addition, honing in on the destructive self-talk you are using could give clues on the best ways to alleviate your sexual performance anxiety.
So make an appointment with a therapist to help you evaluate your own sexual performance anxiety. Find a sex therapist near you, or make an appointment with a cognitive-behavioral therapist, and get the help you need from a professional.
2. Mindfulness Meditation Training
Mindfulness meditation training gives your mind the practice to learn how to stay present in the moment. Rather than allowing your mind to wander off during sex and fixate on your worries or what might happen in the future, mindfulness keeps you anchored to the moment you are in.
Practice with mindfulness meditation will teach you to focus on the sensations and feelings in your body occurring in the present moment. Evidence shows that mindfulness training can increase sexual arousal, desire, and overall satisfaction. In addition, it can decrease the fear accompanying sex and performance anxiety.
You can begin mindfulness training through courses by a trained instructor, or you can also start by incorporating simple mindfulness exercises into your daily routine. For example, tune in to each sensation your body experiences when you are in the shower.
As though you are experiencing it for the first time, think about how the soap feels on your skin, what the scent of shampoo makes you feel, etc. When your mind wanders–which it will–bring your attention back to the sensations your body is currently experiencing. You can do this with the simplest tasks throughout the day, like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. It’s all about the practice!
You may be in a cycle of dysfunction that causes anxiety around sex. If you have had instances of sexual dysfunction, it will likely cause sexual performance anxiety in the future. The feelings of fear and stress that you experience will contribute to or cause ongoing sexual failure in the future. So around and around it goes–dysfunction leading to anxiety and anxiety leading to dysfunction.
To put an end to this cycle, ask your doctor about medications that can help. Phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors are effective for erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. They may be helpful in your situation.
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and let them offer solutions that can help. Medication could be the answer to breaking the cycle of anxiety and dysfunction.
Male Performance Anxiety Solutions
Other male performance anxiety solutions can likely be found by studying the causes of sexual performance anxiety bulleted above. Could things from that list be improved in your life, leading to relief from stress around sex? The best sexual performance anxiety treatment is you evaluating how each of these causes contribute to your sex anxiety and find ways to alleviate that distress.
Below you will find a list of 6 solutions to the common causes of sexual performance anxiety.
1. Talk through your sexual anxiety.
You can work through your feelings of anxiety with your spouse or in sex therapy. Sexual trauma, past sexual failure, or ongoing sexual roadblocks are best addressed with a professional therapist. Rather than dealing with your fears alone, put them out in the open. Let your partner in and start to deal with this challenge together. Being met with compassion can relieve a lot of your pent-up worry. Take on this challenge as a team, work together to find solutions, and figure out what works.
2. Increase your self-confidence.
Self-esteem issues, specifically regarding your body, have a profound impact on sexual performance anxiety and intimacy in general. A great way to increase your confidence is to make lifestyle changes to feel better about yourself. Whether that’s getting more sleep, changing your diet, making time for exercise, or prioritizing self-care. Do things that make you feel love for yourself and your body.
3. Seek treatment for sexual dysfunction.
If you have concerns about your ability to stay erect, reach orgasm, or not ejaculate prematurely, you should seek medical help. There could be a physiological cause for your problems a doctor could fully address. We have a complete guide for getting help with sexual dysfunction you should check out.
4. Stop consuming pornography.
Pornography erodes your marriage over time. You may think it is normal or harmless, but it has far-reaching effects. It physically changes your brain and causes an increase in depression and anxiety. If you are consuming pornography, it is undoubtedly influencing your sex life.
5. Seek help for depression.
Depression (and PPD) affects your daily life in significant ways, but it also significantly impacts your sex life. Your sexual arousal and desire can be increased by getting help for your depression. It may also be helpful to note that medications used to treat depression come with side effects that affect your libido, arousal, and ability to orgasm. It may not be you but the medication that is causing you difficulty.
6. Find ways to feel more connected in your relationship.
Fixing issues in your relationship or simply finding ways to feel more connected to your partner can relieve a lot of sexual performance anxiety. A great way to do this is to prioritize date night. Get out of your head and just enjoy your spouse. Intimacy starts with connection. So find ways to connect more regularly, and let the intimacy flow more naturally.
Don’t let sexual performance anxiety drag you down and steal your sexual satisfaction. Instead, try these treatments and solutions to get the most out of your intimate life!