Anxiety And Sex: Tips For Managing Your Nervousness
For some people, anxiety and sex can go hand-in-hand. If you experience anxiety, the idea of sex may trigger fear or even panic. Feelings of nervousness around sex may emerge due to various reasons. Some people may feel insecure due to body image concerns. Others may feel nervous about whether their sexual performance will satisfy their partner’s desires. Whatever uneasiness you may be experiencing around sex, certain tips can help you to manage your nervousness.
Anxiety And Sex: Talk With Your Partner About Any Concerns
It can be important to communicate openly with your partner about the feelings you are experiencing. If you are avoiding sexual activity, your partner may wonder if they did something wrong. It may feel uncomfortable or awkward to have this conversation, but it may ultimately be a positive step towards understanding.
It might help to know that experiencing anxiety can be a fairly common occurrence. Anxiety disorders are some of the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder each year.
If you are experiencing sexual performance anxiety, it can be beneficial to let your partner know what’s happening. For instance, you may be worried that you won’t be able to please them. They will most likely try to set your mind at ease, which might be enough to assuage your fears. Of course, some people can have sexual anxiety for other reasons.
Some may experience general anxiety that worsens when exposed to unfamiliar or intimidating circumstances, including sexual intercourse. Others might fear pain and become nervous as a result, which might only exacerbate any discomfort that may accompany sexual intercourse.
Past sexual abuse* can also contribute to anxiety around sexual intimacy. You may consider processing what you have experienced with a licensed mental health professional. If you feel comfortable, opening up your partner could also help them understand you better and determine how to best support you.
*If you or someone you know is experiencing any abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for support and resources.
Try To Work Through Your Feelings
It can be easier said than done, but getting to the root of your feelings about sex can help you learn how to change your perspective.
If, for example, you feel anxiety about pleasing your partner, it might be beneficial to try and understand why. Are you worried that your body won’t be attractive enough? Are you fearful that they might want to be with someone else instead? Or are you worried that you simply won’t have the skills you think you need to be “good” at sex?
Understanding what’s really going on can illuminate the path toward overcoming your anxiety. If body image is the real heart of your fear, for instance, you might take steps to improve your self-esteem and have an open conversation with your partner about it. From there, feeling more confident in the bedroom can become much easier.
Learn To Be Intimate Without Intercourse
You don’t necessarily have to have intercourse with your partner to be intimate. Some people are nervous about penetrative intercourse, but they might be open to the idea of other types of sex. There are likewise many ways that you can be intimate with your partner without having sex. Even cuddling or kissing can help you to feel a sense of closeness with your significant other.
You might also think about ways to strengthen your emotional bond, whether through carving out the time for meaningful conversations or continuing to learn more about each other. Prioritizing emotional intimacy can help to grow your relationship as well.
Consider Seeing A Counselor Or Therapist
Consider seeking the support of a counselor or therapist if you are experiencing anxiety around sex. Online therapy provides an affordable and convenient option for receiving support from the comfort of your own home.
You can even work with a licensed therapist online to address the challenges you may be facing. They can assist you in processing the uneasiness you might be experiencing around sex and developing tools for communicating with your partner. You can join sessions from the comfort of your own home, too, which may make it easier to consistently access the support you’re after.
Research suggests that online therapy options can be an effective treatment method for many mental health concerns, all while being more affordable for most clients. That means online therapy can help save you time, money, and stress as you work toward understanding how you feel about sex.
While experiencing anxiety during, before, or after sexual activity can be frustrating, it also can be overcome with the right support. Over time, you might find that your fears become less intense, and you can connect sexually without experiencing stress. This process often takes time, but seeking support to begin working through your fears may be the first step towards more fulfillment in this area of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Sex Help With Anxiety?
Anxiety disorder is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide and in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans live with anxiety disorders each year. While sex cannot cure anxiety and depression, it can reduce the symptoms associated with these mental illnesses. When you become sexually aroused, your body releases hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins that are considered “happy hormones.” This, in turn, can help boost your mood, create a stronger connection between you and your partner, and increase compassion within your relationship and sexual experience.
Sex is also a great way to get your mind off of things bothering you in your life for a little while. Another benefit of having sex is that it increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping, helping reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Further, sex is also a great way to help you relax before bed. As you are exerting your energy during sex, afterward, your body will begin to relax and become tired, which will help you prepare to have a good sleep. Therefore, sex and anxiety are linked, and it can be extremely beneficial in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Sex and anxiety can also be linked to sexual performance anxiety, a common male sexual problem in which they feel they cannot perform properly for their partner. This anxiety can cause problems in a relationship. Sexual performance anxiety occurs before sexual intercourse as the body goes into its fight or flight mode and releases stress hormones throughout the body. This, in turn, inhibits the body’s ability to produce hormones that promote pleasure and happiness. Until the individual can calm themselves, they will be unable to perform for their partner, leading to erectile dysfunction sexually.
How Do I Overcome Performance Anxiety In Bed?
If you are experiencing sexual problems, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor about your sex life. They will most likely do testing and ensure your anxiety symptoms are not due to other health concerns. Types of treatments available to people with performance anxiety include:
- Treatment for sexual dysfunction for male sexual erectile dysfunction
- Sex therapy to speak about your sexual problems
- Speak with your partner and be open about your feelings and sexual problems
- Exercise helps you in overcoming sexual anxieties and makes you feel better about your body
- Other sexual satisfaction activities such as masturbation
- Build up your sexual desire before by listening to romantic music or movies
For all guidance regarding treatment, please consult a licensed medical professional.
Is It Normal To Have Anxiety Before Sex?
Yes, sex and anxiety or sexual performance anxiety are common among men and women of all ages. While your sex life is meant to be enjoyable, many individuals experience performance anxiety or sexual performance anxiety, putting a damper on their sex life. Anxiety and sex are linked. When you experience anxiety symptoms before having sex, your body cannot overcome these feelings of worry, which affects your performance. For example, common sexual worries can include:
- Problems within your relationship
- Feeling insecure about your body image.
- Feel like you will be unable to provide sexual satisfaction to your partner.
- Anxiety-related to not being about to have an orgasm or enjoy your sexual experience
- Male sexual anxiety can also be related to worrying about the size of their penis
These types of anxieties will then stimulate the fight or flight response in your body to release stress hormones such as cortisol, which will affect the release of pleasure hormones in your body until your body returns to its neutral state.
Symptoms Of Sexual Performance Anxiety
When your body is in its fight or flight mode, the release of stress hormones can narrow the body’s blood vessels, which will make it more difficult for men to have an erection. This can also occur in men who have no sexual desire and can become normally aroused to experience performance anxiety. While performance anxiety is generally more common as a male sexual disorder, it can occur in women. For example, women who experience sexual problems may have difficulties becoming lubricated, which can ruin sexual desire and cause problems in their sex life.
Why Do I Never Want Sex?
Sex and anxiety can also cause sexual problems in women and cause negative effects on their sex life. A woman’s desire for sexual satisfaction naturally changes throughout her lifetime. Male sexual satisfaction can follow a similar track. Common causes of this fluctuation include:
- Changes in relationships
- Changes in the life course or lifestyle
Common symptoms in women who experience sexual problems and a low sex drive include:
- No interest in having sexual satisfaction, including masturbation
- Having concern about not wanting to have any sexual experience or desires
If you are experiencing a low sex drive, it is best to speak with your doctor. They may prescribe sex therapy or examine you for any medical illnesses. If you are male, you might find that you feel weak without your typical male sexual drive, but it’s okay. It does not define you, and treatment can be sought out if a change is desired. Treatment can help with overcoming sexual anxiety. For all guidance regarding treatment, please consult a licensed medical professional.
Potential Physical Causes Of Sexual Dysfunction
Common sexual causes of low sex drive and sexual dysfunction in women may include:
- Medications (if applicable)
- Sexual problems such as feeling pain during sex lower your desire
- Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases
- Unhealthy lifestyles such as alcohol and drug abuse
Keeping track of these symptoms can help overcome sexual dysfunction and a lack of sex drive.
Potential Hormonal causes of sexual problems
Common hormonal problems include:
Potential Psychological cause of low sex drive
- Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
- Low self-esteem and body image problems
- History of sexual and physical abuse
- Previous negative experiences with sex
- Relationship problems
Does Sex Help With Anxiety?
Can Sex Be An Anxiety Trigger?
Is Sex Good For Anxiety And Depression?
Can Not Having Sex Make Anxiety Worse?
Why Do I Want Sex When Stressed?
How Often Should A Woman Have Sex?
Can Anxiety Affect Sex?
Does Morning Sex Help With Anxiety?
Does Lack Of Sex Affect Anxiety?
What Are The Signs Of Lack Of Sex?
How Long You Can Stay Without Sex?
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