Whether it’s due to work stressors or relationship woes, it’s quite common for men to experience sexual performance anxiety at some point in their lives. And with over 40 million people suffering from anxiety in the USA alone, it’s not surprising that performance issues come into play. In this article, we explain what performance anxiety is and how to overcome it.
What is Sexual Performance Anxiety?
It’s estimated that 5 percent of men have suffered a bout of sexual performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction (ED) by the time they reach 40. That figure increases to about 15 percent by the time males reach 70 years of age.
By definition, sexual performance anxiety is the preoccupation of not being able to perform in the bedroom. It may stem from a multitude of reasons. Maybe you’ve had issues before and now you can’t stop thinking about it happening again. Or, maybe you’re worried that you aren’t pleasing your partner but are afraid to say anything.
Some of the most common indicators of this problem are:
- Previous performance issues
- Poor body image
- Problems in the relationship
- Worries related to premature ejaculation
- Loss of libido
- Delayed ejaculation
- Increased heart rate before and during sex.
When it’s All in Your Head
Experts believe that approximately 20 percent of all erectile dysfunction and sexual performance problems are psychological. When experiencing anxiety, your body starts releasing cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline. The former narrows blood vessels and effectively directs less blood flow to your penis, which of course makes achieving an erection more difficult. The latter, redirects blood away from what it considers non-essential areas of the body. Again, hindering your ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
Differences Between ED and Performance Anxiety
While performance issues and ED can go hand in hand, erectile dysfunction is often a stand-alone issue. It may be related to underlying medical and psychological problems rather than only fuelled by your thought process.
However, it is important to understand that ED can be both a symptom as well as a cause of performance anxiety. A failure to perform in the bedroom may promote your concerns about future sexual capability, thus, leading to performance anxiety.
The main difference between these two is that ED is mostly related to penis rigidity, while performance anxiety has a combination of symptoms as discussed above.
Common medical conditions that may cause erectile dysfunction include:
- Heart disease
- Low testosterone
- Attention deficit disorder
- Nerve damage
- Thyroid issues.
What Can You Do About Performance Anxiety?
Focus on the Moment
Before you started having performance issues, what made your eyes roll back in your head? It’s pretty safe to say it was the sensation you felt during sex. Just because you aren’t going all the way doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel all those good feels.
Focus on your senses when you are with your partner. By doing so, you are distracting yourself from feeling anxious before and during intercourse. A great way to practice “being present in the moment” is to try out meditation. Guided meditation with imagery can do wonders for your anxiety.
Lack of regular exercise is linked to both ED and elevated stress levels. Since stress is a major reason behind performance issues, you need to stay active to keep your cortisol levels under control.
Getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is considered very beneficial for both your physical and mental health and well-being. Hitting the gym 2-3 times per week may boost your self-image and lead to overall lower anxiety levels.
Brisk walks in lovely surroundings are also considered a very helpful way to combat stress.
When to See Your Doctor?
If the above mentioned options don’t work, it’s definitely time to see a doctor. Make sure you see someone you are comfortable with. It won’t do you any good if you can’t really open up about the situation in full.
During the visit, your doctor will want to know what medications you’re taking and, of course, your medical history. If needed, further examinations will take place during which they might run blood tests to make sure your testosterone levels are normal. This hormone is vital for our general well-being and a healthy sex life.
If your inability to sexually perform is purely caused by anxiety, behavioral therapy may be the answer you’re looking for. It’s estimated that over 20 percent of sexual performance issues have a psychological cause. So, for men who suffer from any type of anxiety disorder, learning ways to manage stress and anxiety are utterly important.
Seeking help from a professional may bring a whole new perspective to the issue and relieve your symptoms. Remember, these men and women have been doing this job for years, so don’t be embarrassed to open up about your problems.
Communication is Key
Talking to your partner may also help alleviate some of your anxiety. Being able to speak freely about what’s going on may not get things going right away, but it will bring you two closer. And, by getting closer, you open the door to new ways for being intimate.
Not hiding your problems from your partner may help you feel more confident in the bedroom, as even when you don’t get an erection,you both know what is going on. This creates an open atmosphere, and believe it or not, you’ll soon find that your anxiety levels might be going down.
Sexual intimacy doesn’t always have to lead to penetration. For example, focus on what your hands are feeling and what your eyes are seeing. You can also kick things up a notch by using scented candles and oils. It’s about tantalizing your senses without setting high expectations.
Another option would be to give each other sensual massages or take a warm bath together. Getting creative will kick you and your partner out of everyday routine and thus, may help fight performance anxiety.
Give your Libido a Boost
Here are some libido boosting foods that may improve the quality of your sex life.
- Berries: strawberries and raspberries are full of zinc, which enhances testosterone levels.
- Walnuts: these nuts improve sperm quality and may boost fertility.
- Almonds: undue some stress hormone damage by eating a few of these. Almonds release amino acids and arginine, both of which are good for vascular health.
- Avocados: packed with vitamin B6 and folic acid, both of which boost sex drive.
- Watermelon: this tasty melon may improve erections and increase your libido.
- Oysters: high in zinc, which boosts testosterone (primary male sex hormone).
On the same token, if you’re fueling up with cold brew and burgers, you may want to think about swapping these for healthier choices as well. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll look better too.
The more you know, the better off you are. Even if you can’t pinpoint the cause of your sexual performance issues, understanding that it happens to a lot of men can help to ease the mind. Also, educating yourself on how your body functions and reacts to stimulation means you could improve your bedroom performance.
There are also tons of accredited sexuality-related online courses available for you to sign up and boost your bedroom IQ.
If you are suffering from ED, or if your anxiety is causing it, your doctor may prescribe you with erectile dysfunction pills. However, these days, it is also possible to get erectile dysfunction pills very conveniently without leaving your home.
For example, Bluechew is one of the most popular subscription-based ED pills in US, which can be prescribed and ordered online. Robert Thomas from Sextopedia has conducted an in-depth review of the product which you may find useful.
You can also try testosterone boosters for increasing libido and male enhancement pills for erectile dysfunction. However, be aware that these products aren’t typically FDA approved and are sold over-the-counter. Thus, be sure to choose a product that actually works.
Remember, sexual performance anxiety is not a chronic issue in majority of cases. However, it is something that doesn’t go away on its own and needs to be dealt with. Therefore, be proactive, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Make changes in your lifestyle – get some exercise, take up meditation and be open about the issue with your partner.
Following these steps will most likely lead to an improvement in your sex life, just like you deserve.