There’s a lot of social pressure on men to perform sexually. While most men are ‘raring to go’ in regards to sexual interludes, some men approach these situations with fear or uneasiness of what may or may not happen. This apprehension has a name – sexual performance anxiety.
Most men naturally think in terms of their ‘performance’ in the bedroom – was it good or not? Did I help my partner reach climax? Did I last long enough, and did I perform up to par? Usually, these normal concerns aren’t bothersome enough to prevent men from having sex. But men with sexual performance anxiety have various reasons for how they feel about this part of their life.
Understanding sexual performance anxiety
Sexual performance anxiety is when a man feels enough tension or dread of sex to affect his ability to get aroused, even though he is physically healthy. The built-up anxiety can lead to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, delayed or blocked ejaculation, and loss of libido.
When men are preoccupied with poor sexual performance, even when he is attracted to someone and wants to have sex, any negative sex-related thought may lead to this problem. Add to this scenario other pressure of life – worries about relationships, kids, work, and financial issues, which can potentially boil over into the bedroom – and he has created even more anxiety over his sexual abilities.
Men of all ages and relationship statuses can be affected when life gets stressful, so sexual performance anxiety may develop at any time.
Causes of sexual performance anxiety
There is a multitude of reasons why men may experience this condition. Every man is unique but a common factor tends to be stress. Stress can have a strong grip on men’s general health and well-being, including their sex life. The body’s main stress hormone – cortisol – is nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s best known for helping fuel the body’s fight-or-flight instinct in a crisis.
The adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, are in charge of making cortisol. Most cells in the body have cortisol receptors, which receive and use the hormone in different ways. For instance, whenever the body is on high alerts – such as being involved in a car accident or scrambling to meet a work project deadline – cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way of dealing with stressful situations. In addition, when cortisol is released, it floods the body and narrows the blood vessels. Guess what? Men need good blood flow to achieve an erection. Without it, sexual performance will fizzle.
Other causes of sexual performance anxiety may include:
- Alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs, and some prescription medications
- Recovery from illness or surgery
Overcoming and treating sexual performance anxiety
Any man experiencing a less than satisfactory love life should first acknowledge the problem. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and loss of libido can have many causes besides anxiety, but to know for sure, seeking help from a doctor is a first step. Men, who have not seen a doctor in more than a year, should have a complete physical exam, including blood tests that check for any medical condition that could be the root cause.
If nothing medically or physically wrong is found, then it’s time to focus on other possible reasons, including sexual performance anxiety. In this case, men should be referred to a therapist trained in treating sexual disorders. They can provide guidance on using various techniques to gain control of sexual-related anxiety.
Being open and honest with a partner is another way men can ease their worries over sexual performance. By being forthcoming, it can actually bring a man and his significant another closer together helping improve their sexual relationship.
Sometimes finding other ways to be intimate without intercourse can help. We all know sexual intercourse is the home run of sexual intimacy, but sensual massages, taking a warm bath or shower together or taking turns pleasuring each other with masturbation can take some of the pressure of performing sexually.
The most important thing for men to remember is to seek help for sexual performance anxiety as soon as possible. The longer they wait for help, the more negatively it may affect their overall future sex life.