Have you ever felt anxious before performing a task in front of people? It is pretty common and normal for people to feel worried before or during performing a certain task. It can be very stressful for some people to give a speech, sing, and do sports in front of a crowd. Even though a certain amount of anxiety is expected while performing such tasks, if your feelings of anxiety and stress prevent you from actually doing these activities then you might have performance anxiety.
In the case of sexual performance anxiety (SPA), people can be anxious about performing sex and may experience sexual problems caused by this situation. SPA is one of the most common sexual difficulties. Even talking about sex can be triggering to feel anxious for people with sexual performance anxiety. Though SPA is more common among men, women can also experience SPA and related problems such as not getting lubricated enough because of anxiety.
There can be many factors affecting the development of sexual performance anxiety. Such factors include ; low levels of self-esteem, body image problems, fear of rejection, and humiliation can be listed among the causes. Other aspects of an individual’s life which can cause stress such as work, school, family, and relationships can contribute to the experience of sexual performance anxiety as well. Lastly, stressing about not being able to perform sexually such as the fear of erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation are among the reasons.
SPA can worsen after a bad sexual experience, it can make the person feel more anxious for future sexual activities. In this case, try not to generalize one bad situation to future possibilities. Keep in mind that from time to time everyone can have poor sexual experiences in their life. Also, in your next sexual activity, it can be useful to distract yourself from the thoughts of SPA through some music, movies, scented candles, and so on.
Sexual performance anxiety is known to be a contributor to many sexual dysfunctions. For instance, when people focus entirely on their performance during sex, it can be difficult for them to get aroused, reach orgasm, and/or enjoy sex. It is common for men to experience erectile dysfunction as a result of SPA. This can be caused by the release of stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, creating difficulties in relaxation and enjoyment during sex as well as a decreased blood flow to some parts of the body for instance the penis.
While it can be anxiety-provoking at first to talk about your problems, it is recommended to share your experience with SPA with your partner. It can make you feel less anxious afterward and you and your partner may come up with some ideas that would help you with SPA.
If you think your sexual performance anxiety is affecting your sex life significantly and it has not been getting any better for some time, you may benefit from therapy and medication if needed.
If you’re seeking professional help with an issue similar to this one, feel free to book an appointment here.
Başak Turan is an intern at Willingness. She is a psychology graduate and currently a Clinical Psychology master’s student at the University of Bergamo, Italy.
McCabe, M. P. (2005). The role of performance anxiety in the development and maintenance of sexual dysfunction in men and women. International journal of stress management, 12(4), 379.Pyke R. E. (2020). Sexual Performance Anxiety. Sexual medicine reviews, 8(2), 183–190.