(310) 600-9912 drmoali@oasis2care.com

Sexual performance anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes, and it affects people of all genders. It could be that you’re nervous about sex in general, whether you’re concerned about getting an erection or your mind is too busy for you to reach climax. Anxiety can present as low libido, erectile dysfunction, and other problems that put a damper on your sex life. But, there are ways to overcome sexual performance anxiety and ease your way into better sex. 

Nerves Can Affect Just About Anyone

Sometimes sexual performance anxiety looks a bit different depending on your gender. If men suffer from this, they may have trouble getting or maintaining an erection or premature ejaculation. Affected women may have low libido or an inability to climax, too. 

The fact that male sexuality has historically been treated as the default sexuality plays a role, too. Many men can become instantly aroused, while a majority of women take much longer to become aroused. Without comprehensive sex education, women are often left feeling broken or high maintenance when they aren’t as ready for sex as their partners are if they are in a heterosexual relationship. Since other anxieties also arise, like worries about pleasing their partner, maintaining their partner’s interest, and not asking too much of them, oftentimes, women end up having sex well before they are in the mood. When this becomes a habit, frustration, resentment, and long-term sexual performance anxiety can settle in.

Sexual Performance Anxiety and Sex Education

People learn about sex in two main ways, and both are failing them. The first way is sex education from school, which usually includes a medically oriented diagram and some information about how to avoid pregnancy and STIs. Issues like emotional safety, consent, and pleasure are frequently left out entirely. If young adults are lucky, they could speak freely with their parents about sex—but for many, this is not the reality. So, to find more information, many turn to porn. And porn is an ineffective way to learn about having mutually satisfying sex, since it reinforces the idea that women get turned on instantly and men can stay hard for hours.

Give Yourself the Best Chance

Before looking at psychological ways to free yourself from anxiety, you might want to consider environmental factors as well. When you’re going to have sex, set the scene for arousal first. Make sure you have privacy, time, and a partner who is willing to explore. Check off that thing from your to-do list that will otherwise spring to mind during sex. Give yourself some stress-free time before engaging, like taking a warm bath, reading a good book, or doing some yoga, so that you can disconnect from your day and re-engage with your body. The act of detaching from the day’s stress can help you get a new perspective and feel more ready for sex.

Talk to Your Partner

It’s tempting to say nothing and hope your partner doesn’t notice, so that they don’t think you have low desire, are boring, or have a problem with the relationship. If you trust your partner, be honest with them about what’s going on for you. If you don’t mention that you didn’t get turned on or couldn’t reach orgasm, they may notice and then feel you didn’t say anything because they are the problem. When you hide these issues, the other partner will often internalize them, creating a more significant rift in the bedroom.

If you’ve had sexual performance anxiety for such a long time that it’s becoming harder to connect with your partner, there’s still hope. Make a list of types of touch that you would enjoy—even if nothing sexual is on the list. If you like kissing, include that. If you would like a massage, light stroking, for your partner to bathe you, or even skin-to-skin cuddling, include those as well. If you’re so stuck that you can’t think of anything, try sensate focus, which can help you map areas of pleasure on your body. Reengaging with pleasurable touch can open the door to uniting sexually again.

Enlist Help

Couples or individuals that are having trouble overcoming sexual performance anxiety should reach out to a specialized therapist who can provide solutions to help you move forward.

 

 

Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist. Download her new ebook, How to Increase Your Libido – For Women, here.

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