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alt: A man with sexual performance anxiety

Secrets to Conquer Sexual Performance Anxiety

Picture of Lisa Welsh
Lisa Welsh

Podcaster
Sexual Health & Pleasure Educator
Media Liaison for the World Association for Sexual Health

Are you tired of feeling anxious and unsure in the bedroom? Do you long for more confidence and satisfaction in your sexual experiences? 

If so, keep reading because today, we’re diving into the secrets to conquer sexual performance anxiety. 

In this article, you will discover practical techniques, common fears, and powerful strategies to help you unlock more nights of deep, hot passion. 

What is sexual performance anxiety? 

So picture this: you’re in the throes of passion, everything is getting heated up and BAM! All of a sudden, your penis doesn’t want to play anymore. It’s like that feeling of arousal has been overtaken by nerves. Have you ever experienced that? What triggers this anxiety? 

Well, it can be as simple as not getting enough sleep, partying too hard, or feeling unwell. 

Or, it can be when the big head is thinking and worrying too much about the little head. That dreaded thought, “what if,” is enough to send adrenaline coursing through your body. 

And when adrenaline hits, your blood is redirected to those vital organs, including your heart and your brain, and away from the less critical extremities like your fingers, toes, and your penis. 

But the good news is that this is a physiological response, not a sign that you’re broken. 

Did you know that sexual performance anxiety isn’t limited to any gender? Everyone can be impacted by how their inner state affects their sexual interest.

As Esther Perel put it, it’s an interplay between your desirability and your desire.

The “need” to perform

But while vaginas need to soften and become moist for sexual intercourse — thank you, lube😉, penises are expected to get hard on demand and perform

Hmm, that’s an interesting choice of words, right?

Sexual anxiety arises when we view sex as a performance instead of something that we get to enjoy and experience.

Think about it: do you consider sex as something that is evaluated? Is it something you’re supposed to be great at? Or something that tells you how much of a man you are? 

This performance mindset can lead to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation and difficulty experiencing orgasm.

So, instead of worrying and overthinking, what if you shifted your focus to just being present in the moment? 

The key is to get out of your head and into your body. Your body is where the pleasure is happening. Can you get into your body and embrace the messy, imperfect sexiness of the moment as it is? Easier said than done, right?

Well, let’s explore some of the most common fears associated with performance anxiety. 

Common fears that often feed performance anxiety

Below is a list of some of the most common fears that men tend to experience when they’re getting ready to have sex. 

alt: Fears that cause sexual performance anxiety

1. Fear of rejection

It’s not uncommon for men to fear rejection when it comes to sex. 

Society often places the expectation on men to take the lead in sexual encounters. This can lead to fear of being turned down when expressing their desires, either when initiating sex or during a sexual encounter. 

And let’s be honest, getting turned down hurts.

Especially if this is accompanied by criticism for only wanting sex or for being “disgusting”, and that can feel extra painful when sex is one of your primary vehicles for experiencing emotional closeness.

This fear of rejection can show up as hesitancy, reluctance, or anxiety when initiating or expressing your sexual desires to your sexual partner. 

Let me just remind you that rejection is a natural part of human interactions, so it’s essential to keep it in its place and know that it’s not a reflection of you, your self-worth, or your desirability.

And it’s also an excellent time to check in with ourselves about how we say no to sex.

Of course, we’re always allowed to say no to sex. Consent is crucial. But when we do say no, do we:

  • Do it with compassion? 
  • Actually take the time to consider the initiation that our partner is presenting us with? 
  • Tell our partner how we would prefer them to initiate? Or do we ever initiate ourselves?

This is something to think about. Building this foundation of open communication and compassion can help alleviate that fear of rejection. 

2. Fear of inadequacy

This can manifest in many ways. 

  • It can be your concern about body image and worries about penis size. If you ever wondered if the size of your penis matters, learn the answer to whether penis size matters to women by reading this article
  • It could be fear of experiencing erectile difficulty or premature ejaculation. 
  • Many men may also grapple with self-doubt about their sexual prowess because there’s this expectation that a real “manly man” knows what he’s doing in the bedroom.

So perhaps they’re worried that they won’t meet their partner’s expectations or standards.

We all have this crazy expectation that penises can get hard as a rock on demand and last all night, and it’s just not realistic. 

So, could you try shifting your focus from an individual’s performance to a shared experience of emotional connection and pleasure? 

Can you see how this reframe can change everything? 

If you would like even more insights into this and how to develop your confidence, then you’re going to love my free guide, designed to help men ignite their sexual confidence and passion. Download the free guide here

3. Fear that your partner isn’t genuinely enjoying the sexual experience

We all know that it’s easy for women to fake orgasms. 

And studies show consistently that in heterosexual situations, 91% of men report having orgasms, while only 39% of women say the same.

So many men worry about their skills. Do they have the proper knowledge and techniques to please their partner and help her to experience orgasm? 

This isn’t made any easier by society’s false stories that women and vulvas are complicated and female orgasms are extremely difficult to reach. Of course, in reality, this is not the case. 

The free guide I mentioned above has resources to help with this, too😉.

So, as a result, the fear of not knowing how to please your lover can lead to self-doubt and anxiety. 

What’s the solution to sexual performance anxiety? 

Here are some things you can do to overcome male performance anxiety. 

1. Open and honest communication

Open and honest communication is the answer to help you overcome sexual performance anxiety and experience more sexual intimacy. Plus, you also need to remember that sexual enjoyment is a collaborative process. 

It is up to everybody involved to take responsibility for their pleasure and each other’s pleasure.

These fears can lead to this cycle of anxiety and avoidance, which in turn can harm sexual performance and satisfaction.

So, what can you do to break out of this cycle? 

Are you talking about these fears to your partner? Opening up about it can help prevent misunderstandings.

If your anxiety is causing you to avoid sex, then it’s likely that your partner is thinking there’s something wrong. 

Maybe they worry there’s something wrong in the relationship. Or perhaps they think there’s something wrong with them and that you’re no longer desiring them. 

All of these stories can happen in their head because you just won’t tell them that you’re feeling nervous about your performance in the bedroom. 

Having those communications can help to build a closeness between you. Because, more than likely, they’ll reassure you that they just love being with you, and it doesn’t matter if you’re performing like we see in the movies (because that’s unrealistic!)

Having open, honest conversations can truly help with so much of this.

2. Look inwards

Also, have a conversation with yourself. Are you feeling turned on enough? Is there a sexual desire you’d like to invite into the bedroom to make things sexier for you? Different sex positions? Dirty talk? Or perhaps even trying new sex toys

alt: Ways to have a sexier sex life

Is there something about your relationship or partner that’s turning you off? 

These are very real and valid things that can be dealt with by being honest with yourself and then speaking with your partner in a compassionate way.

Don’t forget to get a general and mental health checkup. Remember, things that are happening outside of your bedroom, like too much alcohol, a lot of stress, or medical concerns, can have an impact on your sexual life.

And don’t overlook the power of mindfulness. When it comes to sexual performance anxiety, don’t turn it off because this can be sexier than you think.

What to do when sexual performance anxiety sneaks up on you

Let’s imagine for a moment you’re about to get it on, and you start to feel those nerves coming up; try taking a deep breath and refocusing that nervous energy into excitement.

Shift your attention from worrying about what’s going to happen with your penis to focusing on the sensations in your body. Focusing on your partner’s body. Focus on giving them pleasure.

Focus on their facial expressions, the sounds they’re making, and how they move their body.

In other words, let yourself get lost in the flow of the erotic moment.

That’s the key to mind-blowing sexual experiences. 

Moral of the story: Before you get professional help or go for sex therapy, try open communication first. Because, more often than not, open communication and focusing on the erotic moment can help you increase sexual desire and overcome sexual difficulty. 

Ready for better sexual experiences than ever before? 

Always remember, you’re not alone in these challenges. Sexual performance anxiety is incredibly common, but as you’ve learned today, there are many different techniques and strategies you can employ to start to overcome it.

Remember to download the FREE eBook “A Man’s Guide to Enhanced Sexual Confidence” to enhance your sexual confidence and experiences. 

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