Sexual performance anxiety can lead to major dysfunctions: Here are six ways you can deal with it
A recent study in Sexual Medicine Reviews revealed that sexual performance anxiety causes erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in 9-25 percent men, and causes severe inhibition of sexual desires in 6-16 percent of women
Anxiety occurs at critical junctures, especially before important events, and so it’s quite natural to feel anxious about your performance in bed. But when anxiety about sexual performance becomes a regular issue, not only does it affect your mental health but it can also have an impact on your sexual health and wellbeing.
The sex and anxiety link
Sexual performance anxiety or sexual anxiety usually manifests in a number of different ways for different people. The research team led by William H Masters and Virginia Johnson — the scientists portrayed in the TV show Masters of Sex — were the first to study how anxiety regarding sex led to sexual dysfunctions and disorders. They found that anxiety prevents the autonomic nervous system’s response to sexual stimuli, thereby preventing the completion of the phases of the sexual response cycle: desire, arousal, orgasm and resolution.
A recent study in Sexual Medicine Reviews revealed that sexual performance anxiety causes erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in 9-25 percent men, and causes severe inhibition of sexual desires in 6-16 percent of women. These figures suggest that sexual performance anxiety is a very real problem and overcoming it is vital for a healthy sex life.
Tips to deal with sexual performance anxiety
You might assume that not paying any attention to your sex anxieties won’t harm you in the long run, but it might. A healthy sexual life is not just important for your relationship or your self-confidence levels, but also regulates your blood pressure as well as your immune system. So, if you suffer from sexual anxiety, you can try the following tips.
1. Get a health check-up done: There are many diseases that affect sexual function, like diabetes, arthritis, endometriosis, etc. It’s best to rule out any physiological causes of sexual anxiety and dysfunction before you proceed. Plus, consulting a doctor can also open the avenues for proper diagnosis and treatment for any issues — sexual or otherwise — that you may have.
2. Work on your image: Body image has a lot to do with sexual health. Learn to accept your body as it is, and commit yourself to changing the things that you can — your weight or stamina for example. Some researchers recommend standing naked in front of a mirror and exploring your body to understand and appreciate it more.
3. Get educated: A lack of appropriate sexual education can also lead to sexual anxiety. This doesn’t mean not knowing how the basic act of sex is done — which is quite simple — but actually refers to not knowing how your body (and that of your partner’s) might react to sexual stimulus and how to make this a pleasurable experience for both. So, getting informed about these from a healthcare professional is very important. If that’s not possible, look up trusted sexual health resources online like Planned Parenthood or American Sexual Health. You can also approach a doctor through teleconsultation now.
4. Communicate better: Sex with a partner is not something you can enjoy by going into a shell. Doing so can increase your anxiety. So, communicate your needs to your partner and listen when they tell you what they want in bed too.
5. Explore shame: Quite often, your anxieties about sex stem from stigma or shame attached to it; ideas that possibly took root during childhood and adolescence. Hiding this shame won’t help, but having regular conversations about sex and any issues you might have with certain acts can help destigmatise sex while also relieving your anxieties. Start by speaking to your friends and take it from there.
6. Get help: If anxiety-relieving techniques like mindfulness, yoga and meditation don’t help and your sexual anxiety persists, you should consult a doctor about it. Remember, there is no shame in owning your problems and working to make them better. It shows that you accept your issues and care enough to resolve them. So, don’t feel awkward about getting help when you need it — it might take some effort, but the end result will be worth it.
For more information, read our article on Anxiety: Symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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