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Intercourse is meant to be a pleasurable and intimate experience. But it might become an unpleasant act if you are suffering from performance anxiety. When you are mentally occupied by questions such as "Do I look too fat?" or "Did I do that right?", sex stops being a gratifying experience.
Incessant anxiety over your ability or appearance can result in sex becoming nerve-wracking and stressful for you. It might even have you avoiding sex altogether. This psychological condition is termed as sexual performance anxiety.
Sex isn't only a physical reaction, there are emotions tied to it as well. If you are too stressed out and your mind is preoccupied, your body reflects your inner turmoil and you cannot get aroused.
Causes: The causes of sexual performance anxiety include:
- Fear that you wouldn't be able to satisfy your partner and perform well sexually
- Body image issues (Such as stressing about your weight)
- Problems in your relationship
- Men worry that their penis don't 'measure' up
- Men might be concerned about taking too much time to orgasm, or about premature ejaculation
- Women worry about not enjoying the experience or being unable to have an orgasm
Symptoms: Your mental state has a deep impact on your physical state. The effect of stress hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine can hinder your sexual performance. Symptoms of sexual performance anxiety include:
- In men, blood vessels constrict due to the effect of stress hormones. This leads to reduced blood flow to the penis, thus making it difficult for the man to get an erection.
- Often though it is less diagnosed in women, sexual performance anxiety leads to trouble in lubrication during sex. Lack of lubrication dims the desire to have sex.
Sexual performance anxiety is a vicious, inescapable cycle. Increased anxiety hampers you from having sex, making you think you won't be able to perform well, which causes even more anxiety.
Treatment: Consult a doctor you will be comfortable with discussing your problems. Sexual performance can be either treated by medication (if you have an underlying medical condition such as erectile dysfunction) or through therapy.
Talking to a therapist or counsellor about your problems can help you in several ways. You can learn to become more comfortable with yourself and your body. You can also understand your problems better, which can eliminate your anxiety.