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Sexual Health: Performance Anxiety - A Common Problem for Men  Previous Next

Performance Anxiety - A Common Problem for Men

by: Amy Otis, BSN, RN

Performance anxiety is a common sexual problem in which anxiety about engaging in sexual activity becomes an overriding block to the spontaneous flow of sexual feelings and thoughts. For some reason it is more prevalent in men, it can however, be overcome.

The fear of sexual performance, or more accurately the fear of not performing sexually, can affect sexuality in a variety of ways. Though erectile dysfunction and other sexual hindrances can have biological causes, for most people with PA the problem is psychological.

Performance anxiety can result in avoidance of sexual encounters, relationship problems, sexual dysfunction and lowered self-esteem. Typically, an awareness of performance anxiety produces so much preoccupation with the problem itself that the person becomes less fully involved in the sexual interaction, bringing about the very failure that is feared. In one common scenario, as the anxious partner worries about how to be sexually responsive and spontaneous; he or she focuses on each detail of the lovemaking.

Anticipation of the next sexual encounter arouses the same anxiety coupled with the memory of the previous failure and often leads to avoidance of sexual activity altogether. This may result in one member of a couple mistakenly interpreting the situation as a form of rejection. The underlying avoidance, however, is usually not to reject one's partner, but to save face in a way that helps the person feel more in control and less guilty about being inadequate.

Fears of sexual performance are likely to put a damper on sexual arousal and cause loss of erection. Eventually the fears may become so pervasive that they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and the man will experience an actual inability to get or keep an erection. Over the long run, performance fears may lead to an avoidance of sex, and loss of self-esteem.

Going to a certified sex psychologist, or other psychologist who has had experience in this particular area is often useful. Always make sure that they're well-referred and that they're people who are qualified. In addition, take some time to learn stress skills and relax about sex.

Amy Otis is a registered nurse, a writer and an educator. Amy's the founder and President of a popular teen health website. For honest sexual health, visit CoolNurse - You might just learn something.

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