Sexual Performance Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Overcoming

Someone suffering from sexual performance anxiety feels nervous before, during or after sex. Sexual activity should be an enjoyable experience. However, you may fail to enjoy if you are always worried about your performance and the thought that you are not satisfying your partner. This anxiety can affect men of all ages. So what are the causes ,symptoms and treatment of sexual performance anxiety?


A pleasurable sexual encounter is a product of emotional satisfaction and excellent physical response. When you are too stressed thinking about sexual incompetency or whether you are performing well, the body cannot be excited. This usually makes you feel sexually inadequate to satisfy your partner. Sexual performance anxiety can be caused by

  • Body image issues like someone’s concern about their height, weight or their penis size.
  • Perceived previous failure
  • Relationship issues such an existing emotional disconnect or dissatisfaction in a relationship
  • Over-expecting a person’s sexual abilities
  • Fear of rejection by a partner
  • Fear of erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, premature ejaculation and other conditions that can affect sexual satisfaction

How does it happen?

When an individual experiences these feelings, the body responds by producing powerful stress hormones like norepinephrine and adrenaline. These two hormones constrict blood flow in vessels reducing the rate of flow to vital organs like the penis. This decline in blood flow to the penis makes it difficult to get and maintain an erection making it impossible to have an enjoyable sexual experience. This leads to erectile dysfunction which makes the sexual activity harder and less satisfying. Even men without the challenges of erectile dysfunction can have trouble in attaining an erection if they get anxious or nervous before or during sex.

How anxiety affects men

The more a man worries about his ability to perform sexually, the lower the likelihood of relaxing and the less the chances of attaining a full erection. Feeling incapable of satisfying a partner causes a lot of pain and stress to a man which can compel them to abstain from sexual practice completely.


People are affected differently by performance anxiety because they respond differently to stress and anxiety. The various signs of performance anxiety include:

  • Inability to reach orgasm
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Trouble in having or maintaining an erection


Sexual performance anxiety can have catastrophic effects on the social life of an individual. If you are a victim, you should not shy away from seeking help. Sharing the problem will help in getting a lasting solution. In a bid to establish the source of your problem, a doctor will perform a series of test to determine if it is linked to any medical reason. If there is a medical connection to premature ejaculation, insufficient lubrication or erectile dysfunction, the doctor can direct you to a range of drugs, male enhancement substances, and other treatments to help you in solving the problem.

Since psychological factors can also cause performance anxiety, it is advisable to visit a therapist or a counsellor. A specialist should help in detecting the root of your anxiety and the various ways to manage it.

Ways to overcome performance anxiety

Apart from visiting a doctor or a therapist, there are behavioural changes that you can adapt to improve your sexual performance.


Men develop anxiety when they are worried, too focused or overly concerned. This happens when they are trying to impress their partners. In such a scenario, the best remedy is to share with their partners about their anxiety. Open communication can help in reducing the induced stress and improve their sexual life.

Guided imagery

This is an incredible therapeutic procedure used to overcome performance anxiety. In this process, a person enters a light trance-like state where they follow through a script describing a vivid scenario. The process helps your body to overcome any physical or mental challenge happening to you by tapping into the unconscious mind. Studies indicate that men who pass through this procedure can reduce erectile dysfunction effects caused by anxiety and stress.

A performance anxiety victim does not need to visit a therapist to go through this process. You can do it at home by writing and visualizing a script that takes you through a pleasurable sex encounter with your partner. When going through this imagery guide, empathize on the parts which trigger a more enjoyable sexual sensation. The more you repeat this process, the higher the chances of improving your performance.

Explore new things

Many people believe that the order of sex should always follow a particular strategy. For example, many believe that a normal sex process should start with kissing, cuddling and then intercourse. This process can, however, be altered in circumstances where you feel stressed. To improve, your performance, you can decide to stop and concentrate on cuddling or kissing, and when you feel ready again, you can resume to intercourse.

You should also spend time to understand your partner’s body. For most women, foreplay is the most critical part for you to have a successful sexual experience. Understanding what works best for your partner will also aid in having a good sexual experience.

Break the cycle

A lot of men fall into the performance anxiety cycle. Repetitive, annoying sexual occurrence is a common experience and equates to periodic erectile dysfunction (ED). However, a lot of men who encounter unpleasant sexual experiences dwell on the experiences instead of the source. This leads them to develop anxiety in the future and more ED symptoms.

You can improve your performance if you focus on the issues causing the anxiety. A stressful job or financial constraints are examples of common causes of anxiety. Shifting your effort in such matters and focusing on how to resolve them can help you in achieving improved sexual performance.

Improve on diet and exercise

Studies show that men involved in regular exercise have enhanced sexual performance. Continuous exercise encourages high blood flow in the body. Increased blood in organs like the penis allows you to get and keep an erection for a longer duration. Also, maintaining regular workout increases heart rate, muscle activity and breathing which are all vital for delivering sexual satisfaction.

Consuming foods with low levels of cholesterol and fats improves your performance. Foods rich in fibre and vitamin C enhances your sexual functioning as well. These foods help to keep vibrant blood flow in the body and the penis specifically.

Focus on the senses

Most men with performance anxiety issues are always worried about what their partner will think of them or whether the sexual encounter will be successful. However, you should emphasize the senses during sexual activity. This helps you to focus on sensory activity and not analyzing the event.

If you focus on what you are seeing or what your hands are feeling, it can help you in eliminating the anxiety. You can also play romantic music or light scented candles to set the mood for sexual activity.

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