At the end of the day, sex is an intimate form of pleasure which is meant to bring a couple closer together, creating a strong bond in the bedroom. Sex should be a way to release stress and tension, it shouldn’t be a source of it, but for some people sex can create nothing but anxiety, self-doubt, embarrassment, and even shame. However, by completely avoiding sex, these sufferers can feel even more depressed and alone, often being too embarrassed to seek out professional help. (Thegamedial)
Common symptoms of performance sexual anxiety include:
- Negative thoughts or fear before or during sex
- Unsettling feelings associated with sex
- Inability to orgasm during sex
- Premature or delayed ejaculation in men
- Vaginal dryness or pain during sex for women
- Decreased interest in sex
- Increased heart rate
- Unsettled stomach
Although people suffering with performance worries are unlikely to be shopping for BDSM restraints any time soon, there are plenty of ways to overcome the sexual anxieties to leave them enjoying intimacy more. Sadly, sexual performance anxiety is not an officially recognized medical or psychiatric condition, even though it is one of the most common sex related problems. This can make getting help harder for those who are experiencing it, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Identifying the cause is a good place to start as there are many causes of sexual performance anxiety that involve fears related to sex. Some people may be concerned by body image insecurities such as weight or worry about their ability to satisfy a partner. Others may have had previous negative sexual experiences or relationship challenges that impact their current relationships. Other causes may include general stress or anxiety, societal or other pressure to perform, alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs.
Common treatment approaches include medications and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is the primary treatment for sexual performance anxiety in men and women, being found to be effective in treating sexual performance anxiety related to a variety of different causes. Exposure therapy and systematic desensitization may also be used to help reduce the feelings of fear related to sex, allowing the person with sexual performance anxiety to face the fear in a safe and controlled setting as a way to overcome that fear.
If erectile dysfunction is part of the cause of sexual performance anxiety, medications may be prescribed to address the erectile dysfunction and alleviate the associated anxiety. These medications may include oral pills, penile injections, and intraurethral medications. If there is an issue with low libido and finding of low testosterone levels, then testosterone replacement therapy can occur with gels or injections.
Talking with sexual partners can help a person cope with sexual performance anxiety, getting their thoughts out on the table to help their partner understand what is going through their mind. This is beneficial because it facilitates understanding between sexual partners of the performance anxiety challenges, builds stronger relationships between a couple, and can help them when it comes to determining practical solutions together.