Sex is supposed to be an act of pleasure and enjoyment for us, but more often than not, you tend to think a lot about how you are going to perform in bed. The thought that you may not be able to satisfy your partner keeps ringing in your head before and during sex. This condition is known as “sexual performance anxiety“ is suffered by millions of couples and individuals.
Signs of Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety is something that you might experience at least once or more despite your age, gender, or orientation. Some overcome it real quick while some have prolonged experiences of performance anxiety with an obvious need for some treatment to cure it. When it comes to men, they are more concerned about their stamina, size of their penis, thoughts about ejaculating early, and not being able to give pleasure to their partner. Although men are often diagnosed with the problem of sexual performance anxiety, there are a lot of women who face the same issue. Women have problems like poor body image, thoughts about having late or no orgasms at all, stress and relationship issues, lower self-esteem, etc. If you are a woman with performance anxiety, you might experience following signs and symptoms:
Sexual performance anxiety can reduce the lubrication in your vagina and thereby make penetration very difficult. The reason behind this is that the stress hormones. These hormones narrow your blood vessels, which in turn makes arousal difficult in women. And as we know, arousal is essential for vaginal lubrication during sex. Less or no lubrication makes sex extremely painful and undesirable for a woman. A similar effect is also observed in men. Due to lesser blood flow, it becomes difficult for a man to have or maintain an erection. Similarly, it becomes difficult for a woman to stay aroused throughout the entire act of sex if she has performance anxiety. While more extended foreplay might help with such a condition, it is advisable to see a doctor or therapist if the situation persists longer.
Difficulty in Reaching Orgasm
The thoughts of performing well in the bed lead to anxiety. Such thoughts during sex may lead to poor performance in the bed. They may also distract you from reaching the orgasm. Due to this distraction, you may experience late orgasms or no orgasms at all. This adds boredom to the sex life of the couples.
Loss of Interest in Sex
Any anxiety leads to loss of interest in everything going around in life.
So, lost interest in sex is a visible sign of performance anxiety. With each unpleasant experience in the bed due to sexual anxiety, you may keep on losing your interest in sex. Lack of proper communication between the partners makes the situation even more complicated. In the worst cases, you may also feel that you have lost all your interest in sex.
1. Insomnia (Levels May Vary)
Insomnia is already associated with anxiety due to many reasons. But when it comes to sexual performance anxiety, it’s even worse. Overthinking might make your anxiety intense, making you reconsider everything about your sex life. The worst part about it is that sleeping and sex are intimately associated with each other. So it might become challenging for you to dissociate these two things and think of them separately. Sleeping next to your partner itself can act as a trigger to your anxiety.
2. Reluctance to initiate sex
Not being confident enough might make you reluctant in initiating any kind of sexual activity. Due to this, you may start neglecting your sexual desires. Reluctance to initiate sex will make it mandatory for you to wait till your partner begins it. You may or may not be in a mood to have sex when your partner demands but because you are not habituated to initiating the act, you will have to give in when your significant other is in a mood to have sex. This will make it challenging to recognize the intensity of your responses as you have deliberately suppressed them over a period of time.
3. Crying during or after sex regularly
Crying is again a very obvious consequence of having performance anxiety. Anxiety brings about frustration, and extreme frustration comes out as crying. Crying during sex can make you feel worse about yourself. You might think of yourself as the game spoiler. But in fact, it is normal to tear up during sex if you have performance anxiety. The hormonal rush is, indeed, the mood spoiler. Hormones like oxytocin highly elevate your emotional responses are released in massive amounts during sex. Crying during sex is even common for a normal person, but if it persists more than a specific time period, it could be a sign of sexual performance anxiety.
Women with sexual performance anxiety hold a lot of self-demeaning notions, utter lack of confidence, and a significant downfall in sexual desire. All these bring stress and anxiety to a women’s life, which gradually ends up in depression. You may start hating yourself and indulge in self-harm as well. However, depression can be cured, given that the patient gets proper care, medicine, and therapy.
A traumatic or abusive history of sexual encounters can easily trigger sexual performance anxiety and cause the person to have frequent mental breakdowns during sex. Past experiences may also make it difficult for you to get involved entirely in lovemaking due to negative perception regarding sex. It demands a lot of patience and understanding between the partners to rebuild a healthy sexual relationship after having traumatic experiences of the same.
6. Anger and mood swings
Performance anxiety is not just limited to the bed or the intercourse, but it fills the mind with thoughts throughout the day. This frustration when it becomes unbearable comes out of the brain in the form of anger. Mood swings and irritation are also prevalent in such women. Ultimately, this anxiety may lead to several other incidents between the partners, which increase the anxiety to a higher level. And after that, this vicious cycle continues.
7. Feeling empty or out of place
It could be challenging to understand your feelings immediately after having sex, but if you feel out of place or if you have a constant feeling that something is missing in you when it comes to sex, you might have reason to worry. It is essential to be present at the moment while you are having sex; otherwise, your partner may feel that you are not interested in having sex with them.
8. Body image issues
Having body image issues is both a reason and a consequence of having sexual performance anxiety. Having a strong urge to switch the lights off while having sex, continually thinking about whether you are participating enough, being conscious about how your partner will perceive your body, etc. are some of the signs of sexual performance anxiety.
9. Faking orgasms
Some women think that they are taking too long to orgasm, and hence, they try to fake an orgasm to please their partner. Behind this behaviour are a deep sense of low self-esteem and sexual performance anxiety. It is advisable to avoid indulging in such behaviours as it further lowers your confidence and self-worth.
10. Depression due to postpartum changes
Women go through a lot of physical, hormonal, and emotional changes. Addition of a new member to the family adds to your responsibility when you become a mother. The constant need to stay around your baby might induce a notion of monotony and exhaustion. Moreover, the physical changes induce a poor body image in your mind and give rise to performance anxiety while having sex.
A lot of things cause sexual performance anxiety. The worst part of having performance anxiety is that the more you worry about it, the stronger it gets a hold of you. Having sexual performance anxiety is like a downward spiral: once you’re in it, it is tough to get out.
How to overcome sexual performance anxiety?
As anxiety is a medical condition, there are some medicines that can help with anxiety associated with sex. Anti-anxiety drugs, Viagra,
Talk to a therapist or counsellor who is experienced in treating problems related to sex. Consulting a therapist will help you understand your relationship with your partner, your likes and dislikes in bed, ways to overcome sexual performance anxiety and ways to improve your sex life while doing so.
3. Emotional connection
It is essential to develop a strong emotional relationship with your partner if you are sexually active with them. A sense of uncertainty or insecurity can very well trigger anxiety in you. You may also feel that the other person is judging you for your appearance and ability in bed. Whereas, having a strong emotional connection with your significant other defies all the insecurities and helps you enjoy better in bed.
4. Take it slow
Do not ever try to force yourself into having sex just because you have been dating for a long time or because your partner wants to do so. Take your time to get into a physical relationship with anyone. Forcing yourself once implies that you will do that again, and it will definitely ruin your relationship with healthy and normal sex.
Anxiety is better cured by meditating. Although it is a time taking process, it is very beneficial in the long run. Meditation helps you develop a connection with yourself. It helps you acknowledge your own needs and shortcomings in a better way. Meditation also helps you stay calm during the stressful condition and thereby eliminates the possibilities of having an anxiety attack during sex.
Exercise releases hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which make you happy and emotionally healthy. In addition to this, exercise helps you control your weight and improve your body image. Regular workouts can increase your stamina in bed and thereby reduce your performance anxiety. This applies to both men and women.
7. Diet changes
Diet is a significant part of our life. Certain foods make you lazy, unenergetic, sluggish, and overweight. Making changes in your everyday diet helps you a lot in having an active and healthy sex life. Moreover, there are some foods called aphrodisiac foods that help you increase your sex drive and relieve your sexual performance anxiety. Consult a dietitian or nutritionist to help you with a diet plan.
8. Be open to your partner
Communication is the key. Talk to your partner about your preference, about what triggers your anxiety and communicate to them how they can help you with it. Lack of communication is a major cause of misunderstanding and emotional imbalance in a couple. When communicated properly, any problem can be solved for sure.
When Your Partner Has Performance Anxiety…
If you are a partner to someone who is suffering from performance anxiety, it is advisable for you to be patient, empathetic, and understanding. Help your partner accept her flaws and communicate consistently to establish a safe space for her. When it comes to mental disorders like anxiety, the emotional part of healing is quite tough for both the victim and their partner. Seek help wherever necessary and help each other survive that phase and make your relationship stronger by overcoming such issues.