Erectile Dysfunction

How to Overcome Sexual Performance Anxiety

December 18, 2023

All the “what-ifs” surrounding sex can get you in your head before the big moment. 

“What if it’s awkward?” “What if it doesn’t go well?” “What if I can’t perform?”

Sexual performance anxiety is a common issue that affects a significant number of people. Not only can it affect the enjoyment and fulfillment of sexual experiences, but it can also lead to relationship strain.

While it may be uncomfortable, addressing sexual performance anxiety is probably the best way to overcome it. By understanding the causes and utilizing practical techniques, you can effectively overcome this anxiety and regain confidence in your sexual abilities.

What is Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety refers to the fear or worry about one's ability to perform sexually – often leading to a decline in sexual satisfaction and overall well-being. 

Typically, if you’re having feelings of self-doubt, excessive focus on performance, fear of failure, and difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection or orgasm before or during sex, you may be having some performance anxiety. 

There are a lot of reasons why you may be feeling this way. You may have had a past negative sexual experience or you could be feeling unrealistic pressures and expectations from friends or the media. It’s also possible that an issue within your relationship is causing you to feel anxious about sex. 

It is important to differentiate between normal performance jitters, which can occur from time to time, and actual anxiety that significantly hinders sexual performance. Understanding these distinctions can help individuals identify when they may need to seek help and take steps towards overcoming sexual performance anxiety.

Misconceptions Surrounding Sexual Performance Anxiety

There are misconceptions surrounding sexual performance anxiety that can perpetuate feelings of pressure and inadequacy. 

Sexual performance anxiety in men is more common than you think, but because of the stigma around it, it’s not talked about openly. Research suggests that around 20-30% of men experience some form of sexual performance anxiety at some point in their lives – and those are only the people who admit it. 

It’s not just men, though. If your partner is a woman, remember that she may also be experiencing concerns or anxiety about her sexual performance. Communicating openly and honestly with your partner can help establish a shared understanding and support system, allowing both of you to explore and prioritize pleasure and intimacy over performance goals.

It is important to recognize that societal or media-driven standards often present an idealized version of sexual performance, which may not (and usually don’t) align with reality. 

Common expectations surrounding sexual performance include the belief that one should always have a strong and immediate sexual desire, be able to maintain an erection effortlessly, and be able to engage in sexual activities for long periods of time without any difficulties. There is also the misconception that individuals should be able to easily satisfy their partner's sexual needs and desires without any challenges or limitations.

While you may have sexual experiences that align with these ideas of sex, it isn’t always how it’s portrayed in the movies – and that’s okay!

With these misconceptions dispelled, you can develop a healthier mindset towards sexual experiences and overcome performance anxiety.

How Do You Know if You Have Sexual Performance Anxiety?

If you’re noticing that your anxiety about sexual performance is causing problems in the bedroom, you may need to do some self-reflection.  

Recognizing the signs of anxiety in oneself, such as excessive worry or fear, is the first step towards addressing the issue. It is also important to identify any underlying concerns or insecurities that may be contributing to the anxiety, such as body image issues or past trauma. 

Communication and introspection are key in this process, as discussing these concerns with a partner or therapist can provide valuable insights and support. Engaging in self-reflection allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your own needs, desires, and boundaries. 

With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll have the tools to start paving the way for healthier and more fulfilling sexual experiences.

How Do You Cope with Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Relaxation exercises and deep breathing techniques

Relaxation exercises and deep breathing techniques, along with incorporating mindfulness and stress-reduction practices, can be incredibly helpful in overcoming sexual performance anxiety. 

Taking deep breaths and focusing on the rhythm of your breath can help calm the body and mind, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of relaxation. 

Mindfulness techniques, such as being fully present in the moment and nonjudgmental of your thoughts and feelings, can assist in shifting the focus away from performance concerns. 

Engaging in stress-reduction practices like meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation can also alleviate tension and promote a more positive mindset. 

These techniques can contribute to an overall reduction in anxiety and increased self-awareness, ultimately leading to a more confident and relaxed approach to sexual experiences.

Experimenting with desensitization techniques and gradual exposure

By gradually exposing yourself to situations that trigger anxiety, you can gradually build up tolerance and confidence. 

Start with small steps, such as exploring self-pleasure in a comfortable and private setting, before gradually introducing a partner or engaging in sexual activities. This gradual approach allows for increased familiarity and reduces the fear of immediate performance expectations. 

It is important to approach these situations with patience and a non-judgmental mindset, focusing on the process rather than solely on the outcome. With each successful experience, individuals can gain a sense of accomplishment and reinforce positive associations with sexual encounters, effectively overcoming and managing sexual performance anxiety.

Confidence and self-esteem building

Having confidence is not easy, but there are lots of ways you can build confidence and self-esteem. Being able to recognize your strengths, unique qualities, and everything else you love about yourself can help you gain confidence in the bedroom. And when you’re confident, everyone around you will notice it. 

Consider engaging in activities that promote self-care. It can be as simple as going for a jog or walk in the park, doing a fun workout class with friends, having a night in with your favorite dinner and a sudsy bath, positive self-talk in the mirror, or picking up a hobby that fulfills you. And if any of those activities aren’t your cup of tea, try something new and you may discover something that brings you joy.

While these suggestions may not seem related to sex at all, they do relate to your perception of self-worth. Once you’re able to feel confident alone, you’ll be able to feel confident about sex with another person. 

Seeking support

Seeking support from friends, therapists, or support groups can be helpful in overcoming sexual performance anxiety. As previously mentioned, sexual performance anxiety is not an uncommon issue and it’s reassuring to know that you’re not alone. 

Additionally, seeking professional help is highly recommended. Consulting with a healthcare provider or therapist specializing in sexual health can provide valuable guidance and support. 

Therapeutic options – such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – can help you identify and challenge negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping mechanisms. In some cases, medication or supplements may be considered under professional guidance if deemed appropriate. 

Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but a proactive step towards acknowledging and addressing sexual performance anxiety.

How Rex MD Can Help

Don’t let sexual performance anxiety get in the way of your sexual experiences. Whether your anxiety lies around getting hard, staying hard, premature ejaculation, or something else, Rex MD can help. With ED medications like Viagra or Cialis or sertraline or PE wipes, you can let your anxieties outside of the bedroom. 

Just answer a few questions about what you’re looking for, and a licensed clinician can find a prescription that’s right for you. And, it’s all virtual, so you won’t even have to leave your home.