Tips for Sexual Performance Anxiety

There are many possible reasons you might associate feelings of anxiety with your sexual encounters.  Sexual anxiety may be related to fears about your performance (performance anxiety), issues with your relationship, trust issues associated with negative past experiences, PTSD resulting from rape or other trauma, or a lack of honesty about your sexual desires.  All of these sources of anxiety can spawn sexual dysfunction including impotence or premature ejaculation.  Both men and women can have these issues; as a man you might have difficulty maintaining an erection; if you are a woman, you can still have the equivalent.  The answer isn’t to pop pills; medicating should be your last resort.  First, try treating your sexual anxiety.

man experiencing sexual anxiety

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is probably the most common cause of erectile dysfunction and other issues relating to performance.  Ironically, your worrying about your ability to have an erection or have or give an orgasm can lead to you experiencing premature ejaculation, impotence, or the like.  This is because you’re focused on what could go wrong and you’re not focused on having a good time.  An experience that should be fun and positive turns into something which is stressful and tedious.  Both men and women manage to wrap their genders up in this issue as well—you may think, “I’m not a man if I can’t have an erection,” or “I’m worthless if I can’t have an orgasm.”

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Think about this for a moment.  It’s ridiculous—you’re worth more than that.  Some basic self-respect is central to a healthy, positive sex life.  Your gender is not at stake, and if your partner’s respect rests solely on your sexual performance, there’s nothing you can do about that, because it’s irrational and unreasonable.  You can’t control how others think of you, including your partner.  If your partner is a worthy individual, he or she just wants to enjoy a good time with you.  Learn to relax and enjoy the experience and not worry about the details.  Oftentimes if you let go of your expectations and worry, your erection or your orgasm will take care of itself.

Relationship Problems

If your partner actually is unreasonable in the sack, you need to do something about that.  If your partner is judging you by your ability to have an erection or an orgasm or any other particular factor, your partner isn’t respecting your basic nature, and some perspective needs to be shed on this issue.  You might also have sexual anxiety if you have some other relationship problem which has nothing to do with sex.  Work on building communication and dealing with your relationship problems.  Once you’ve worked through them and created a more positive situation, you may overcome your sexual anxiety.

Trust Issues

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A lot of people have difficulty in sexual situations not because of anything to do with their current partner, but simply because so many of their past partners have been so unfortunate.  If you’ve made a lot of poor choices or you’ve been betrayed by past partners, you can start to wonder if your current partner is next, in which case you may not feel comfortable sharing your sexuality with your partner.  If you can get perspective on these trust issues, however, you can learn not to listen to the mistrustful voice in your head.  If your partner has earned your trust, don’t give credence to the paranoia you may have, and over time it should start to go away.  Your partner is not those people from your past.


PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) of any sort can hinder sexual performance, but it is particularly likely if the past experience involved rape.  PTSD can cause you to have difficulty building trust or feeling physically comfortable with a partner.  It can cause your mind, your body, or both, not to respond the way you expect them to.  Therapy can help treat PTSD, as can building trust with your current partner.  Learning to feel physically comfortable with your partner without any pressure can help to alleviate sexual anxiety.  Your partner should not judge you or disrespect you on the basis of your PTSD, nor should you judge yourself for it.  If your partner is truly worthy, reminding yourself that you are with someone who is safe and who respects your boundaries can help you to relax.  It may take a long time to build new positive sexual experiences, but it can be worth the effort.

Dishonesty About Your Sexual Desires

In some cases sexual anxiety can result if you are not honest with yourself or your partner about your sexual desires.  Sometimes this is something as pronounced as not accepting your own sexual orientation.  Other times it has to do with a fetish you don’t want to acknowledge or things you want to try but are too nervous to express.  Odds are you’ve learned your sense of shame from social repression, so try not to blame yourself for it.  Accept who you are and be honest about who you are.  Once again, you cannot control how others perceive you, but you can at least respect yourself.  Once you do you are more likely to have a fun, fulfilling sex life with your partner.  If your partner does not respect who you are, you deserve someone better.

Identify the Cause and Treat It

Once you’ve figured out what’s causing your sexual anxiety, focus on finding ways to cope with or treat that cause.  Sexual anxiety can compound if you lose perspective; for example, if you have PTSD but don’t allow yourself space to deal with it, you could develop unrealistic expectations and then start experiencing performance anxiety.  Or if you have performance anxiety and you make it into a bigger problem than it is, you could develop relationship issues which then feed the cycle.  So try  not to let your problem compound; acknowledge that it is there, and then do your best to move on with your sex life.  Sex is supposed to be fun, a way for you to share with your partner.  So have fun and enjoy your sex life, even if it isn’t “perfect.”  The more you enjoy and the less you stress, the more fun you’ll ultimately have, and the less your sexual anxiety will interfere.

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