Performance Anxiety & Erectile Dysfunction: The Difference

Performance Anxiety & Erectile Dysfunction; What’s the Difference?

by | May 31, 2022 | Erectile Dysfunction

Like most men, you’ve probably felt anxious before sex at least once or twice.

It is extremely common for men to feel nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable before and during sexual activity.

This is a common problem known as sexual performance anxiety or just sexual anxiety.

But sexual anxiety isn’t the same as having erectile dysfunction, although the effects of performance anxiety can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction.

Sexual performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction (ED) are troublesome issues, and a man can have both.

(Check out our article, How to talk to your doctor about ED medication.)

However, there are some clear differences.

We’ll take a look at the differences in the article below.

What Is Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety is a common issue typically due to nervousness and anxiety before or during sexual activity.

Common reasons men experience this are:

  • Having high expectations about sexual performance. This can include worrying about satisfying your partner or thinking about past failed sexual attempts or a bad experience prior. 
  • Having body image issues, like concern over your weight, height, or penis size.
  • Experiencing relationship issues, like a lack of emotional connection or discontent with your relationship.
  • Experiencing stress in any area of your life, like at work, other relationships, or other non-sexual aspects of your life.
  • Dealing with other mental health conditions or anxiety disorders.
  • Nervousness about sex or sexual activity in general

Sexual performance anxiety is caused by stress that releases powerful stress hormones that constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to your penis.

This makes it almost impossible to develop and maintain an erection, affecting your ability to enjoy sex with your sexual partner.

Many men also have a feeling of nervousness before they engage ins sexual intercourse with their partner. This is a common experience and can have physical effects that can make it difficult to perform the way you’d like.

We’ll take a look at some ways men can decrease their level of anxiety before sex, but first, let’s look at what ED is. 


What’s Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a sexual disorder caused by many things, not just stress.

ED is when a man is incapable of getting or sustaining an erection.

It’s more common in older men, but men of any age can develop ED.

Various physical and psychological factors can trigger erectile dysfunction, and performance anxiety is just one of them. Usually, the biggest cause of erectile dysfunction is the lack of blood flow to the penis. 

The most common causes of ED are:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking and drugs
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Side effects of medications, like blood pressure medication
  • Other health conditions that might cause ED, like high blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drugs like anti-depressants

Having trouble getting an erection every once in a while is common and isn’t ED.

ED is when a man has trouble getting or maintaining an erection at least half of the time he tries to engage in sexual activity.

This can cause erection difficulties and can even lead men to develop anxiety during sexual situations. 

If you have erectile dysfunction or sexual performance anxiety, you need to be evaluated by a doctor like a urologist, andrologist, or a sexologist.

Your doctor will design a treatment plan to treat your sexual anxiety that could include therapies like guided imagery, relaxation exercises, couples therapy, sex therapy, etc.

ED, however, needs oral medications and sometimes surgery along with therapy. Shockwave therapy can also be an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.

There are many common treatment options to help you overcome erectile dysfunction and enjoy sexual intercourse again.



The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Performance Anxiety

Erections and sexual arousal are complex processes involving an interplay between emotional and physical factors in men.

Psychological changes can lead to the physical issues of erectile dysfunction and vice versa.

Sexual anxiety can contribute to a problem with a man’s sexual function in several ways.

If you are worried about your sexual performance too much, you might start feeling unworthy and incapable.

These feelings of can result in ED. 

Previous sexual experiences play a huge role in sexual performance anxiety.

If you’ve ever had minor issues with erections, premature ejaculation, or any sexual dysfunction in the past, these negative experiences can create negative feelings about intercourse in general.

That can cause your desire to have an active sex life to decrease as you worry about your abilities. 

Overcoming ED And Performance Anxiety

Understanding your partner is very important if you have ED or performance anxiety.

Here are a few tips that can help decrease performance anxiety and improve your sexual experience.

Don’t Focus On The Past

Having an occasional difficulty getting an erection firm enough for sex doesn’t mean you have a chronic issue with your sexual health.

It just means that you were more stressed on that night, and it affected intercourse.

The issue probably wouldn’t have existed if the stress weren’t present.

Try to shift the focus on why the erectile dysfunction happened instead of the negative outcome.

Open communication with your partner and some anxiety reduction techniques may help prevent future performance issues. 

Live In The Moment

This sounds cliche, but you need to stay in the moment.

If you aren’t fully present with your partner, it takes away from the sexual experience. 

Staying present and fully engaged without being distracted helps couples have an enjoyable time together and can help you mitigate the effects of anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation and other relaxation techniques can help train you to focus on the present moment.

Lifestyle Modifications

When men are going through an incredibly stressful period, it affects every aspect of their life, including their sex life.

Whether the stress is caused by their job, relationship, or something else, it can initiate ED or make it worse.

Higher stress levels and generalized anxiety are related to decreased sexual satisfaction in men and women.

When men address the issues causing stress in their daily lives, it usually improves their overall sexual experiences.

Smoking, alcohol, or any illicit drug may also make it difficult to get a firm erection and worsen overall health. 


Choice Men’s Health Can Help With Your Erectile Dysfunction

If you’re having performance anxiety or erectile dysfunction issues, it’s time to see a medical professional.

Once they have diagnosed you with ED, they can treat it so you can lead a happier, healthier life.

If you have questions about erectile dysfunction or sexual performance anxiety, Choice Men’s Health in Atlanta, Georgia, helps men have great sex.

Make an appointment with our ED Specialists to start treatment today. They have the best treatments for erectile dysfunction that can help you reconnect with your partner. 

Schedule an appointment with our ED Specialists to get started on your Erectile Dysfunction Treatment by calling (404) 400-3717 or filling out a form here.



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