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Sexual Performance Anxiety: Can Performance Anxiety Cause ED?

sexual performance anxiety cause erectile dysfunction ed

The concept of sexual performance anxiety (also called performance anxiety ED) is one that has been receiving more and more attention these days – especially when it comes to its effects on men. 

The more we talk about and understand anxiety, the more we are able to identify how it affects our daily lives. Unfortunately, many of those effects are negative. 

The hard truth here is that anxiety needs to be confronted head-on as a mental health concern; it’s not about simply “sucking it up,” and moving forward. Instead, it’s about pursuing your optimal state of well-being, whether that is professionally, personally, or even sexually. 

Male performance anxiety, similar to low testosterone issues, is something many more of us encounter than we’d perhaps like to admit. Not feeling at our best in the bedroom can lead to a range of relationship and personal issues, and unfortunately it can be embarrassing to talk about, which makes treating and overcoming it that much harder. 

What’s worse is that performance anxiety in men can result in other sexual problems like premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to overcome sexual anxiety – but it all starts with the genuine desire to dive into some of the uncomfortable reasons behind it in order to combat it and get back to enjoying every aspect of your life.

Understanding The Causes and Symptoms of Male Performance Anxiety Erectile Dysfunction

performance anxiety ED with new partner or boyfriend

The first step to take is understanding just what performance anxiety is and what happens in our body when we experience it. One of the more tricky aspects of diagnosing performance anxiety is that we’re largely reliant upon self reporting – and not everyone wants to talk about it, for obvious reasons. 

A feeling of nervousness before and even during sex is the main symptom of male performance anxiety. You can’t concentrate on the task at hand or enjoy sexual intercourse because you’re too preoccupied with stress and worry. 

Naturally, your body has a biological response to stress, namely, blood vessels contort and your adrenal system floods the body with adrenaline and cortisol. Once the body becomes consumed with dealing with a fight or flight response, it becomes immensely difficult to relax and enjoy yourself and your partner. 

The worst part for some men is that one bad experience can lead to another. The result is a vicious cycle that can have a severe impact on your personal relationships. If you experience performance anxiety erectile dysfunction once or twice, it is important to understand that there may not need to be an immediate cause for concern. 

However, prolonged bouts and/or decreasing interest in sex as a result mean it is time to confront the core cause or causes. As stated above though, the good news here is that this is a more common occurrence than you might realize – so there are plenty of potential treatments to pursue.

Primary Causes of Sexual Performance Anxiety In Men

Overcoming sexual anxiety requires an understanding of the various potential causes behind it. These can vary widely and cover both physical and psychological roots. The most common are mental, however and could include:

  1. Concern and performance anxiety over satisfying a new partner
  2. Self-esteem issues regarding our bodies
  3. Stress over staying erect or premature ejaculation, or not being able to reach orgasm
  4. Relationship problems, or a lack of emotional connection with our partner
  5. Influence of internet pornography 
  6. Work, family, financial, or other non-sexual stresses in our lives
  7. General nervousness about sexual activity

Oftentimes, these psychological influences will manifest physically in the form of erectile dysfunction or ED. Performance anxiety-related ED can lead to an uncomfortable feedback loop as your confidence wanes and worries begin to mount. 

Worse yet, men experiencing significant mental health struggles may encounter performance anxiety ED more often, as a 2015 study found a link between depression and sexual anxiety. If you have been diagnosed with depression, then more targeted treatment is likely necessary. 

In any case, planning a visit to your doctor is the first necessary step in determining your personal causes for performance anxiety and/or erectile dysfunction. Your physician will be able to help determine whether your symptoms are the result of physical, mental, or some combination of issues. 

Proper diagnosis is critical for curing or treating performance anxiety and its related issues. Visiting a doctor is the best way to begin your treatment journey as they can help you determine whether the causes are physical, mental, or some combination of the two.

Considerations for Overcoming Male Performance Anxiety

overcoming male performance anxiety sex in bedroom

Just as it is with the myriad number of causes, it may come as no surprise that there are a number of different treatments for overcoming sexual anxiety. Many of the most common deal directly with mental health and positive self-image. Men are encouraged to consider the following when mapping out a treatment plan: 

  • Meditation practices on a daily or weekly basis
  • Individual therapy to help battle depression or manage stress
  • Couples therapy to discuss and confront relationship concerns 
  • Breathing exercises to help calm and focus the mind
  • Conversing with our partners openly and honestly to help connect in a non-sexual manner

Guided imagery is a newer, specific treatment for male sexual performance anxiety. The idea originates from a 1984 psychological study that found that sexual re-education through the combination of a relaxed, meditative state and a pre-recorded or live-read script describing an explicit scenario in vivid detail could be an effective treatment. 

Guided imagery can be completed with or without the assistance of a sexual health therapist. Men can even write and record their own visualizations to listen to. The concept is similar to athletic training, in that practice eventually leads to improved performance. By walking through the task from beginning to end, we subconsciously train our minds and bodies to complete it. The more often we do this, the more likely we are to knock it out of the park on game day.

Consult a Medical Professional To Diagnose and Treat Sexual Performance Anxiety ED

No matter the exact treatment method, a trip to your doctor in order to undergo a full physical exam, and answer some potentially uncomfortable questions, is the first step toward overcoming performance anxiety in the bedroom. The good news is, you – and many men just like you – can and have overcome sexual anxiety.

The medical professionals at Proactive Men’s Medical Center in Cincinnati specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our customized approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to discuss unique sexual health problems.

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