For some of us, a carefree sex life is something we take for granted. When it comes to all things under the duvet, we don’t think twice about opening a pack of condoms, throwing one on, and getting down to business.

But for some, there can be a real anxiety when it comes to sex. Sure, we’ve all felt a little nervous about sex at some point in our lives, especially during our first time, but in some cases, it can be significantly worse to the point where anxiety is actively hampering sex.

If you want to know more, we’ve got you covered with our intro guide to sexual performance anxiety where we discuss the signs, symptoms and causes as well as possible treatments. Just remember, if you are concerned about anything regarding your sexual health, you should speak with a healthcare professional at the earliest opportunity.

What is sexual performance anxiety?

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is sexual anxiety or sexual performance anxiety? Anxiety is typically defined as feelings of worry or general nervousness. Most of us have experienced anxiety at one point or another in our lives, however, it’s the severity of the feelings and how often they arise that can lead to anxiety impairing daily living.

Sexual performance anxiety is no different to other forms of anxiety, however, the trigger is sex. Symptoms can be triggered by the act of sex, general sexual activity, or even discussions of a sexual nature. A sufferer of sexual performance anxiety will often worry that they will not be able to perform sexually or that they will not be able to enjoy sex.

It’s important to note that sexual performance anxiety is not a phobia of sex, the actual phobia of sex is known as Erotophobia. Where someone with sexual performance anxiety may be nervous or anxious about having sex, someone with a sex phobia may not be able to face any sexual act at all. You can read more about erotophobia in our guide on the fear of sex.

What are the symptoms of sexual performance anxiety?

Everyone may experience a few nerves when it comes to sex, it’s completely natural. Butterflies in the stomach, a little nervous energy, maybe even a raised heartbeat; these are all signs that you are excited about what’s to come. The symptoms of performance anxiety, however, can be significantly more impactful. They can include the following but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty becoming aroused
  • Reluctance to engage in sexual activity
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Muscle tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate

In extreme cases for men, sexual performance anxiety may even cause long-term difficulty with achieving or maintaining an erection, which is known as erectile dysfunction.

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