How To Cure Performance Anxiety And Put An End To Sexual Stress

Updated February 18, 2021

If you struggle with sexual performance anxiety, you probably know how detrimental it can be to a relationship. It is important to recognize that you are not alone in your suffering. Many people get sexual performance anxiety, but the good news is that there is help out there. Read on to learn about techniques you can use to help cure performance anxiety and enjoy fulfilling sex life.

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What Is Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety is the fear and anxiety that arises when a person performs sexually for their partner. It impacts more men than women, mainly because mature males tend to have a higher risk of developing other sexual complaints, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to obtain or maintain an erection. If you have ED, you are not alone. Fifty percent of men over 40 are impacted by ED, a condition that can make anxiety levels soar. In addition, premature ejaculation can contribute to performance anxiety. Typically, men want their partner to think of them as virile. But when you cannot maintain an erection, or you ejaculate prematurely, you can experience performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction, and your sex life begins to suffer.

Causes Of Sexual Performance Anxiety

It is natural to want to perform well during sexual activity, but negative thoughts about one’s ability to please a partner can cause sexual performance anxiety. Anxiety can prevent you from experiencing sex joyfully. Perhaps you are having feelings of sexual inadequacy. You may be self-conscious about your body or your penis size. Negative thoughts about your life, in general, may also contribute to sexual performance anxiety. Also, money, work, or family-related stressors can influence your mental state and lead to performance anxiety. If you can relate to any of these issues, it is important to remember that you are a human being worthy of love and sexual fulfillment, and there is hope for you.

Sexual Performance Anxiety Symptoms

People respond in different ways to sexual performance anxiety, just as they do to generalized stress and anxiety. Performance anxiety can produce various symptoms in the body, including the inability to orgasm, premature ejaculation, or lack of interest in sex. Physical symptoms of ED include not having or keeping an erection, which can eventually lead to a loss of sexual desire.

Negative Effects Of Stress And Anxiety

Without diagnosis or treatment, it is possible that sexual performance anxiety could escalate into major anxiety. This can progress well beyond recurring bouts of isolation, anxiety, and depression. Generalized anxiety disorder can go on for months and include the following symptoms:

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  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • The trouble with concentration.

Untreated sexual performance anxiety can eventually spiral into panic disorder. When you experience panic, your heart can pound and palpitate, you tremble, choke, and suffer overpowering feelings of imminent doom. Reacting to stress regularly with “fight or flight” chemical reactions can lead to major anxiety episodes that afflict you throughout the day. At times small and seemingly insignificant occurrences can trigger these episodes; at other times, they seem to arise out of thin air.

It is wise not to ignore sexual performance anxiety. Yes, it is possible to self-treat performance anxiety, but remember that although performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction go hand in hand, acute problems like ED could indicate the presence of pressing underlying health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease, or even Parkinson’s. If you suffer from ED, it is prudent to see a doctor for advice, diagnosis, or treatment to rule out these disorders.

Don’t forget that living with anxiety instead of seeking help for it can lead to both physical and mental issues. When you continually experience a fight or flight response, you are generating a burst of energy in the body. When that “fuel” isn’t used for a purpose, it can eventually cause significant digestion or immune system function disorders. In severe cases, you could even have a heart attack or experience premature artery disease.

Managing Performance Anxiety

Many doctors treat erectile dysfunction using medication. But although these medications can help get and maintain an erection, taking them doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Instead, Medical News Today offers the following advice on ways to cope with performance anxiety and ED.

  • Break The Cycle
    Lots of men get trapped in a cycle of performance anxiety. It is normal to experience disappointing sexual experiences occasionally, and having ED once in a while is normal, too. But dwelling on these events and telling yourself that you are a failure may make you anxious about future sexual activities, and this anxiety alone could bring on ED or premature ejaculation the next time you have sex.

Try not to see your experiences as sexual failings, rather acknowledge that having sexual performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction is the norm for many men. Shifting the focus from the symptoms to the cause of the stress or worry can help.  Causes can be as varied and straightforward as anticipating an upcoming work project, dealing with a family illness, or planning a vacation. Cut yourself some slack; you needn’t feel pressure to perform well sexually every time, particularly if you are experiencing an episode of increased stress in your life.

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  • Focus On The Senses

It is normal for men with sexual performance anxiety to beat themselves up over perceived sexual failures. You may be wondering or worrying continuously about what your sexual partner thinks or how they will perceive you during sex. It may help to focus your mind on sensory experiences instead of analyzing each sexual event. Block out performance anxiety by focusing on what your hands are feeling, or your eyes are seeing. Choose candlelight and romantic music if you would like to increase your sensory enjoyment and lessen your anxiety.

  • Exercise

Researchers have noted that a lack of physical exercise can exacerbate ED symptoms. There is a link between performance anxiety and physical exercise. Exercising regularly for 20 to 30 minutes a few times each week has been found beneficial to reduce levels of stress.

Adding Kegel exercises can help. These pelvic exercises strengthen the muscle that pumps blood to the penis during an erection. To perform a Kegel exercise, pretend you are stopping the stream of urine by clenching the appropriate muscles.

  • Guided Meditations
    Guided meditation is when a guide helps you achieve a state of relaxed concentration. This challenges the mindsets that contribute to performance anxiety. The goal of guided meditation is emotional, mental, and physical healing and stress relief. Guides can include yoga instructors, religious guides, sound recordings, or YouTube videos. During meditation, the guide makes you comfortable by instructing you to relax certain muscles in the body and then leads you through visualizations and mental images that comfort and heal you. Guided meditation can take just a few minutes or up to several hours.
  • Couples Counseling
    Sexual performance anxiety negatively impacts relationships. Couples counseling is a type of psychotherapy that can benefit those who experience performance anxiety and their partners. During counseling, a therapist assists those in a romantic relationship to gain insights into their relationship. He or she can help to resolve any conflicts that may have arisen from sexual performance anxiety and support you in improving the relationship. You can find a couples counselor in your geographic area and meet face to face or seek counseling online. The therapists at ReGain can assist with overcoming sexual performance anxiety and help couples draw closer.

  • Sex Therapy

Sex therapy is a practice that focuses on aiding couples who have intimacy issues. It is a potent tool for couples who are striving to connect intimately. A sex therapist’s main job is to listen to each person in the relationship without judgment to determine what may be needed to improve the relationship.  It may be awkward at first to discuss performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction. Still, in the long run, it will be worth it as the therapist puts a treatment plan in place that will help with overcoming sexual performance anxiety.


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  • Stress Reduction

Keep in mind that reducing stress is critical to overcoming sexual performance anxiety. The first step is learning breath control. Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you can put stress and anxiety aside. Breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling your chest and lower belly rise as your lungs fill with air. Once your abdomen has expanded sufficiently, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Once you’ve mastered the practice of breath focus, you can progress to a regular practice of controlled, deep breathing. The following techniques can be combined with breath focus to further dial down your response to stress:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga, tai chi, and Qi Gong
  • Repetitive prayer.

You could try the above treatments in a way that makes sense to you. That being said, ultimately, it may take a combination of the techniques to become sexually healthy and whole.

How ReGain Can Support You

If you continue to experience performance anxiety, it is especially important to seek professional help. Thanks to ReGain, you can get affordable help immediately. Simply log into its online counseling portal. ReGain works with your schedule. You can choose to chat discreetly via text or, if you prefer, on a video chat or over the phone. You should definitely feel comfortable with whichever method you choose. Our friendly and flexible staff is here to serve you at any time. We have doctors, counselors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals who are ready to make your sexual health a priority.


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