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Performance Anxiety: When anxiety hits the bedroom

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

More men than ever are struggling with sexual anxiety and performance anxiety than ever before

First Step Men's Therapy helps men across Ontario, Canada develop healthier relationships with themselves and others. We offer individual, couples, and group counselling to men and their families online using our secure telehealth platform.

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Sexual performance anxiety is a common experience for many men and can have a significant impact on your sexual satisfaction, well-being and intimate relationships.

What is Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or stress about one's ability to perform sexually. This anxiety can stem from a variety of concerns, such as a fear of not being able to maintain an erection, a fear of not being able to please one’s partner, worry over ejaculating too quickly, or apprehension about one's body image. Sexual performance anxiety is not merely a physical condition, your thoughts, feelings, and emotions play a role in creating this anxiety.

Causes of Sexual Performance Anxiety

There are many different factors that can contribute to sexual performance anxiety. Some common factors include:

  • Past experiences: If you have had negative sexual experiences in the past, such as performance issues or negative feedback from a partner, this can contribute to anxiety and self-doubt in future sexual relationships.

  • Body image: If you are self-conscious about your body, you may feel nervous about being sexually intimate with someone else, and this can cause the stress which contributes to your performance anxiety.

  • Medical conditions: Medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, can create feelings of nervousness, stress or embarrassment when being sexually intimate with a partner.

  • Pornography consumption: Over consumption of pornography can create a false sense of what sex should look and feel like, and increase insecurities surrounding your performance or body image.

Managing Sexual Performance Anxiety

Sexual performance anxiety is manageable. There are many different ways that you can manage and ease sexual performance anxiety.

  • Open up to your partner: Communication is essential in managing sexual performance anxiety. Talking with your partner about your concerns and fears can improve anxiety by creating a sense of closeness, safety, and trust.

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help your body relax and minimize intrusive thoughts you may be having related to your performance.

  • Focus on pleasure over performance: Instead of focusing on performance, focusing on the pleasure and intimacy of sexual experiences can create a more relaxing sexual experience. Not rushing into sex with a new partner and taking things at a pace that you are comfortable with can help you enjoy sex and feel closer to your partner. Physical intimacy can take many different forms, and focusing on different ways to be intimate with your partner can alleviate some of the pressure tied to sexual intercourse.

  • Make lifestyle changes: Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can improve sexual performance by reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Sexual performance anxiety is a common experience for many men, and it's important to remember that it is nothing to be ashamed of. There are ways to reduce or overcome the anxiety you are experiencing. First Step Men’s therapy can help you implement the tools and support you need to manage your performance anxiety and enjoy fulfilling, intimate experiences.

How can therapy help me with sexual performance anxiety?

Therapy for sexual performance anxiety typically involves a combination of talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). During therapy sessions, individuals can expect to discuss their experiences, thoughts, and feelings related to their sexual anxiety.

The therapist may help the individual identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to the anxiety. They may also provide education about sexual anatomy and function, as well as provide practical skills for relaxation and communication with partners.

In some cases, therapy may involve exposure therapy, where individuals gradually face their fears in a controlled and supportive environment. This can help reduce anxiety and improve sexual confidence over time.

Therapy sessions are typically private and confidential, and the frequency and duration of therapy may vary based on individual needs and goals. It's important for individuals to feel comfortable and trust their therapist, as this can greatly enhance the therapy process.

First Step Men's Therapy offers sex therapy and sexual anxiety therapy across Ontario, Canada using our secure telehealth platform, JaneApp. We offer therapy to men in Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, London, Belleville, Sarnia, Windsor, Hamilton, Timmins, Sudbury, Guelph, Niagara Falls, Mississauga, Brampton, Barrie, Peterborough, Thunder Bay and across the province.

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