10 Ways Of Overcoming Sexual Anxiety
Updated January 28, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Get Help Managing Your Sexual Anxiety
Romantic films and novels like The Notebook and 50 Shades of Grey have a way of depicting sexual myths. The men are super confident. They know every move and trick about how to pleasure a woman. They can elicit multiple organisms from their partners. In the end, they fall asleep in each other's arm, smiling and fully satisfied. However, as we grow older and start having sex, we discover that the sex as pictured on the screen is not the sex we get in real life. In reality, sex can be a disappointment and sometimes even a total failure for many people. One of the reasons behind such experiences is sexual performance anxiety.
Your mental state can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life, including your sex life. It affects your ability to get aroused. Even when you're with someone you are attracted to, worrying about how you will perform in bed can make it impossible to have sex. When you worry, you develop stress. The stress hormones then narrow the blood vessels. The narrow blood vessels make it difficult for blood to flow into your penis, making an erection difficult.
Sexual performance affects both men and women, but it's more common in men. In women, it affects arousal, which can prevent a woman from getting lubricated. There are many reasons behind sexual performance anxiety. They include past traumatic experience, fear of premature ejaculation, low self-confidence, difficulties in relationships, and sometimes medical problems like erectile dysfunctions and injury.
Whatever the reason behind sexual anxiety, avoiding sexual contact because of fear of not being able to perform properly will not solve the issue. Several things can help you get through the anxiety faster. Want to eliminate sexual anxiety disorder? Here are ten tips on how to overcome sexual anxiety.
- Take Medications
Medications can help deal with erectile dysfunction and other sexual anxiety problems. These drugs must be prescribed by a qualified health professional. It’s important to find a doctor with whom you can comfortably discuss your sex life. Once you tell the doctor your problem, he or she will examine you and then do some tests to make sure your health condition is okay.
During the visit, you will need to tell the doctor your sexual history and how long you have been dealing with sexual performance anxiety. If the diagnosis shows it's a health problem, the doctor will prescribe medications. If a medical issue is not to blame for your sexual problem, then the doctor might suggest other ways of overcoming sexual performance anxiety.
2. Talk To Your Partner
People experiencing sexual anxiety tend to worry about failing in bed before the sex even starts. Such people believe sex will result in humiliation and rejection from their partner. This can be worse if you are trying to make a good impression on your partner. However, the best thing to do in such a situation is to talk to your partner. Talking about these issues can help ease such worries. When sharing your concerns with your partner, you get an opportunity to diffuse any stress and create an 'openness' which allows for the building of intimacy.
3. Change Your Diet
How much you eat and what you eat affects your sex life. An unhealthy diet is a mood-killer, sexual and otherwise. It can affect your energy levels, hormones, and blood flow, each of which plays a huge role in your sex life. Great sex requires stamina, strength, and endurance. Foods high in sugars and simple carbs may lead to poor performance in bed. Instead, try eating fresh, whole foods (vegetables and fruits), complex carbs (like wild rice or whole-grain bread), and protein (like pasture-raised eggs).
4. Adopt A Regular Exercise Routine
As we grow older, most of us tend to gain weight and put exercise to the side. Aside from age, diet and health problems can lead to low energy levels, which can, in turn, affect sex life. A regular exercise routine not only improves your physical state, but it also boosts your confidence. Exercise pumps blood around the body. This releases endorphins, which reduce stress and elevate your mood. All this makes your muscles perform better. Exercising three days a week combined with a proper diet can do wonders. Keep in mind that the more your body can tolerate physical exercise, the more likely you will last longer in bed.
5. Develop A Positive Body Image
Most people find fault with their bodies, which leads to shyness, shame, and sexual anxiety. Some people are so self-conscious about their body, they avoid sex. It's hard to feel sexy if you have a poor body image. Poor body image can have dire effects on your sex life. However, most people don't know that they have control over how they feel about themselves.
Remember, no one is born perfect; it's unusual to find men and women who are satisfied with how they look and feel about their bodies. The truth is that body image has nothing do with color, shape, and size. It's all a product of social, peer, cultural, and familial values. These affect our self-perception and self-esteem. If you don't feel comfortable in your body, and it's causing sexual anxiety, then you need to befriend your own body. Start to recognize that you don't have to compare yourself with other people in the media. Your worth doesn't depend on how closely you fit these unrealistic images.
6. Ignore The Media's Portrayal Of Sex
The media, movies, books, and even porn can paint misleading pictures of sex. If you watch any movie with a sex scene, the woman is most likely to climax a couple of minutes into intercourse. In pornography, a woman supposedly experiences multiple orgasms, and a man can last up to an hour. But studies show that only 25% of women can get an orgasm from penetration alone.
Overexposure to porn and other unreal ideas of sex can lead to unhealthy sex lives for everyone, regardless of gender. Real-world sex comes with lots of trials and errors. It requires work and sometimes even embarrassing moments. So, if you want to overcome sexual anxiety, then you need to stay off porn for a while. Try to stop comparing yourself to movie characters and porn stars.
7. Educate Yourself About Sex
If you can figure out what's making you anxious, then you can start to educate yourself. Are you self-conscious about performance? Worried about getting or giving an orgasm? There are tons of sources of information on how to get rid of sexual anxiety. You can go to your local bookstore, or browse the internet for resources to help you and your partner. If you're anxious because you just started having sex, there are plenty of first-hand accounts of sexual encounters that can teach you what to expect during sex. In reality, we become better through learning and practice.
8. Work On Your Foreplay
Many don’t realize that they need to slow down on the foreplay. Many young people, thanks to pornography, often become aroused by external stimulus and then masturbate to ejaculation as quickly as possible. Such behaviors train their minds to expect an orgasm as soon as they become aroused. This is one of the reasons behind widespread premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.
The best way to gain more control over sexual anxiety and arousal is to slow down the foreplay. For many men, the first five minutes of sexual arousal is the most difficult to refrain from ejaculation. However, after the first five minutes, the mind settles into the idea of arousal and doesn't need to race to orgasm. Whether it's a massage, oral sex, kisses, or a cuddle, do it for an extended period. This will help you relax. Avoid penetration until both you and your partner are fully turned on.
9. It Is Just Sex
Sex doesn't define you as a person. It's not a performance to excel at; it's just an experience to be shared by two consenting adults. It's not an opportunity to impress, and it's okay to make mistakes.
Remember, nearly all men have sexual performance anxiety at some point in their lives. For some, it may be short-lived and may appear in the wake of a new relationship. While some men bounce back immediately, others get stuck for a while, but eventually get over it. So, let go of your expectations, relax, and enjoy yourself.
10. Talk To A Therapist
You can also seek help from a certified sex therapist. A licensed therapist can help you understand the cause of your sexual problems and advise you on different ways of overcoming sexual anxiety. For example, if you are always worrying about premature ejaculation, the therapist can guide you through how to correctly perform relaxation exercises that will help you gain more control in bed.
Sometimes, the therapy may recommend both you and your partner attend the sessions for better results. The therapist may also help both of you reframe assumptions about sexual achievements and failure.
It can be easy to fall into thinking that you are inadequate while society is full of sexually healthy and active people. But large communities within our country experience a wide variety of sexual issues and anxieties. What’s more, therapy interventions have been shown to have good success rates. A survey of therapists found that the highest success rates were among people seeking treatment for premature ejaculation and difficulty reaching orgasm. Treatment usually involves coaching partners to improve their communication, their sensory experiences, and overall sex education.
However, not everyone feels comfortable discussing sex in-person. This is where online therapy offers solutions—you can speak with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. All you need is an internet connection. Read what others like you have to say about their experiences with BetterHelp below.
“Jodi has been of great help and has helped me work on a few different aspects of my life. I've struggled with intimacy related issues that have caused my self esteem to dip, as well as career path anxiety. He’s been a great help in guiding me to feel better about everything which has allowed me to continue to improve and get better. I’ll definitely be coming back to him in the future if needed.”
“Karen has helped me to be able to look outside the box to find how to find possible solutions to my sex life with my wife. A most insightful approach which I had partly recognized before but not taken seriously or realized just how I felt about it.”
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