Sexual intercourse and sexuality are an integral part of almost everyone’s life which concern intimacy, reproduction and/or pleasure. It directly affects the emotional, physical, social and psychological facets of our lives. However, for many people out there, sex is not all pleasure or even ‘pleasure in pain’. There are many individuals of all ages who find it difficult to engage in a satisfying sexual intercourse. It is also irrespective of how experienced one might be in bed. This is a result of sexual performance anxiety.
There are many reasons why such a situation may arise not only among novices, but also for sexually active people. After all, sex is not solely a physical activity as our mind also has a lot to do with the action. Many people tend to worry about a lot of things before, during and after having sex, which stresses both our mind and body.
A few of the reasons why we become anxious in bed are:
- The ‘performance pressure’ comes down heavy on many, especially on the first-timers. There is usually a constant tension whether or not they will perform well in bed and be able to satisfy their partner.
- Poor body image and low self-esteem also cause such problems. Having insecurities about the body and even putting on weight usually lead to this.
- Overwhelmed by the idea of getting intimate with a person and about issues like a possible bad aftermath like sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy.
- Problems in relationships also add on to sexual anxiety between sexual partners.
- Bad and/or traumatic sexual experiences in the past also lead to sexual anxiety.
- Worrying about things like how the sexual experience would be like, or how one would look like while having sex or the partner might be thinking about the person.
Almost everyone of us have had a feeling of anxiety when it comes to sex at some point in our lives. This was especially when we are new to sexual encounter, or sexually encounter someone new. Many people are able to get over this feeling once they get used to it. However, there might be other people who find it hard to get over this anxiety which starts affecting their sexual experiences.
Sexual performance anxiety manifests itself in various ways, which varies from person to person. A few of the signs are:
- Difficulty in getting aroused or reach an orgasm in spite of putting in efforts.
- In women, it may affect the natural ability to lubricate. This could lead to a painful experience and also anxiety.
- In men, there might be a difficulty in getting or keeping an erection or ejaculating early or late, even for men who normally don’t have any trouble getting excited. This happens when they become anxious about their sexual performance.
These problems arise due to the release of stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine. According to studies, sexual performance anxiety is more common in men than in women. However, it is still an issue among many women which affect their sexual experience. This anxiety leads to a series of problems, and if not dealt with, it leads to even worse problems like relationship issues and detrimental avoidance of sex. Hence, it should be taken seriously in order to experience good times in bed.
So if you are suffering from this, here are 10 ways recommended by many experts, to deal with sexual performance anxiety:
Be frank with your partner
Honesty is the best policy, even when it comes to sex. This solution usually helps to negate the sexual performance anxiety to a great extent. Talking to your partner about how you feel can ease your mind as you will let your bottled feelings out. Moreover, your partner will also try best to make you feel comfortable. Communication is the key to a good sex life. Be open not only about your anxiety, but also your sexual needs and fantasies to make the sex more exciting.
Get physically intimate in other exciting ways
If you don’t feel like pushing yourself very hard to indulge in sex out of anxiety, it’s totally fine to give yourself time. Furthermore, you can find other ways to still enjoy intimacy with your partner. Cuddling, making out, oral sex and other intimate actions also help you find pleasure without penetration. The point is to do what you feel comfort in with your partner.
Take time off physical intimacy
It’s usually a good idea to give yourself some time off any form of physical intimacy if the sexual performance anxiety is taking a toll on you. There are various other non-sexual ways to explore intimacy with your partner— spending time together more often, going out for dates, cooking and taking up a hobby together and so on. Talk it out with your partner and discuss about it. Most importantly, kindly don’t force yourself through the sexual strain even when your partner is trying to persuade you to engage in physical intimacy.
Focus on foreplay
In order to ease mild sexual performance anxiety, it’s advised to build the sexual excitement and explore more in bed. Moreover, women mostly take more time than men to open up their body for pleasure. Hence, foreplay becomes a must to enjoy a great sexual experience. Unfortunately, many couples tend not to take foreplay very seriously and directly jump into sexual intercourse. This leads to under-fulfilment of sexual pleasure for both the partners, especially for women if scientific studies are taken into consideration. Hence, it is important to engage in foreplay for more time to build the excitement and rightly arouse our bodies.
Use protection and lubricants
Most of the times, many are anxious when they try engaging in bare-back, i.e. sex without protection. Apart from anxiety, it is also not safe to have sex without protection due to risk of STDs and pregnancy. Hence, it is always advised to have sex with contraceptives.
Also, using lubricants is a good idea to ease the sex, if you are having problems with natural lubrication. The inability to lubricate is a cause or a symptom of sexual performance anxiety. Moreover, using lubes also offers other benefits too like less pain and safer sex.
Try dealing with your insecurities
If your anxiety stems from your insecurities related to body image issues or bad sexual experiences in the past, just know that it is totally fine to feel that way. Although you need to allow yourself to give space to those thoughts, it’s also important to find a solution to it and do what’s necessary at your own pace. Come to terms with your issues and deal with it in a healthy way.
Be it the feeling of shame or tension, it’s always needed to be dealt with. As already mentioned, talk to your partner about it if needed. As it’s all about what you are comfortable with. So, give your comfort the utmost priority when engaging in physical relationship with anyone. In the end, the motive is to make sex equally enjoyable for both the partners.
Seek professional help
If the sexual performance anxiety persists for a long period of time, it starts impacting your mental well-being as well. Hence, it is advisable to go to a therapist and/or doctor who might treat your problem in an efficient manner.
All information in this article is collated from public sources and other references. We recommend seeking professional advise from counsellors and doctors. Feature Image Credits: Getty Images/SolStock