One of the reasons couples stay happy in their relationships is their sex life. In a healthy relationship, sexual partners are open and can be intimate with each other without inhibitions. Unfortunately, not all couples are on the same page, as numerous go through toils and tribulations because of factors such as sexual anxiety (or sexual performance anxiety).
There are many reasons you or your sexual partner suffers from sexual anxiety, although there’s no reason to despair: treating sexual performance anxiety is possible, and your healthy sex life lies just around the corner!
What Is Sexual Anxiety?
Sexual anxiety refers to a range of negative emotions that can interfere with sexual arousal and enjoyment. These may include fear of sexual performance, body image concerns and worries about pleasing a sexual partner. Sexual performance anxiety can be short-lived and situational or it may be a long-standing problem that causes significant distress.
Why Do I Get Sexual Performance Anxiety?
Numerous factors lie behind sexual performance anxiety, such as:
- Deteriorating medical conditions.
- Psychological issues;
- Being in stressful situations or overthinking that you are not good enough to please your sexual partner.
Does Sexual Performance Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction symptoms include getting an insufficient erection for sex or not being able to get an erection at all. These symptoms are due to multiple health-related issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, but psychological factors, such as sexual performance anxiety, can cause and worsen erectile dysfunction symptoms as well.
The Difference between Sexual Performance Anxiety and Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual performance anxiety is different from sexual dysfunction, which refers to difficulties with sexual response or sexual performance. Sexual dysfunctions can happen any time during the sexual response cycle and prevents you from experiencing sexual satisfaction. It is more common for people over 40 to experience sexual dysfunction because it is often associated with aging. However, sexual anxiety can often lead to sexual dysfunction, as the anxious thoughts and feelings can interfere with arousal and make it difficult to maintain an erection or reach orgasm.
Why Do I Get Sexual Performance Anxiety?
The main reason someone experiences performance anxiety is negative thoughts. Your body can’t get excited over sexual activity if your mind is stressed. A person going through this issue often overthinks sexual activity as they are afraid that they can’t satisfy the sexual needs of their sexual partner, don’t look good enough or don’t deserve the love being given to them.
One other factor why a person suffers from performance anxiety is spectatoring, which occurs when a person is watching themselves from above and is disconnected from what is going on, trying to manage how your sexual partner will experience you instead of being there in the moment.
Other Causes of Sexual Performance Anxiety Include:
- Body image issues (i.e., you are afraid that your penis won’t measure up or you are concerned about being overweight);
- Kids or family members;
- Work and financial issues;
- Concerns about ejaculating too early;
- Negative thoughts or feelings before or during sex;
- Lack of interest in sex;
- Vaginal dryness;
- Inability to climax or reach orgasm during sex.
How Common Is Sexual Performance Anxiety?
Performance anxiety is a type of sexual performance anxiety that can affect both men and women. It is more common in men, where 9-25% experience sexual performance anxiety, while women sit at 6-16%, but it can be just as debilitating for both sexes. Performance anxiety is the fear of not being able to perform sexually or of not performing well enough to please a partner. Performance anxiety issues can lead to avoiding sexual encounters altogether and difficulties getting or maintaining an erection or reaching orgasm. Couples going through sexual performance anxiety often lead to one of the partners looking for sexual activity elsewhere or even separation.
Sexual Anxiety in Marriage
Sexual performance anxiety can stem from a variety of sources. It may result from past experiences, such as sexual trauma or abuse, or body image issues. Instead of sharing an emotional connection with your partner, you put yourself under a lot of pressure by measuring the quality of your performance. In some cases, it may simply be a matter of mismatched libidos.
There are also times that a spouse controls the sexual activity where they determine when they want to have sex or use it as a form of punishment by withholding or, in other cases, they offer it solely as a reward. Whatever the cause, sexual anxiety can take a toll on your relationship. It can lead to communication problems, intimacy issues and even erectile dysfunction.
Can Sexual Abuse Cause Anxiety?
Survivors of sexual abuse may feel that their bodies are not their own, and most of the time, they blame themselves for the assault and experience a significant loss of interest in sexual relations.
Another factor that decreases libido is post traumatic depression. Women who experience sexual abuse may experience flashbacks and are afraid to lose control of their lives. Survivors also suffer from attachment issues and usually struggle with intimacy.
Can Sexual Anxiety Cause Premature Ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation happens when a man ejaculates sooner than his partner or earlier than he wants during intercourse. The cause of premature ejaculation is both biological and psychological, including early sexual experiences, sexual abuse, depression and poor body image.
A Parting Reminder
There are many reasons why you experience sexual anxiety, and you need to get to the bottom of each of them before solving this issue. Having open communication with your partner about your sexual needs and concerns and educating yourself about sexual anxiety can be empowering as you will learn how to deal with the issue and might be able to help others who are suffering.
Top Doctor Magazine is a magazine from doctors for doctors and patients. We cover everything from cutting-edge medical techniques and procedures to enterprising doctors, dentists, surgeons, naturopaths, chiropaths, orthodontists, and more who are thought leaders within their own medical practice and changing the way we all experience medicine for the better.
We wish to be your one-stop digest for inspiration by other professionals in your field who are making waves and setting trends. If you, too, are a trend-setter, reach out to us so we can interview you for your own spotlight within an upcoming Top Doctor Magazine issue!
Brianna Connors & Derek Archer Co-Editors