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Overcoming sexual performance anxiety

By: Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M.D. on January 10, 2018 — Written by Jon Johnson
Source: Medical News Today
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Whether due to expectations or personal worries, it is common for men of all ages to experience performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction at some point.

Stress about sex can lead to performance anxiety. This, in turn, can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED), which is difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

Some simple coping methods may help men deal with ED related to performance anxiety.11

Stress and anxiety can cause sexual dysfunction, which may lead to ED.

Performance anxiety and ED may be linked in several ways. Stress and anxiety about performing sexually or pleasing a partner can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

When these personal sexual expectations are not met, it may lead to a downward spiral of feeling unworthy or incapable.

In men, these feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem may turn into physical symptoms, such as ED.

Research notes that there is a clear link between a man's state of mind and his ability to perform sexually.


Performance anxiety is typically caused by negative thoughts about one's ability to perform well during sexual activity. This may include feelings of sexual inadequacy or the inability to please a partner.

These feelings may be influenced by body image, penis size, or by perceptions about manliness or a man's role. More generalized negative thoughts about one's life may also contribute to performance anxiety.

Dealing with stress at work, in the family, or with money may also influence a man's mental state and contribute to performance anxiety.

Smoking, drug abuse, and alcohol may all contribute to ED.

ED is a symptom caused by a range of complex contributing factors. ED can occur when there is a disruption in any of the processes related to getting an erection, including the man's mental state. ED can also be related to the nerves, hormones, or even circulation of blood.

In addition to performance anxiety, other things that may contribute to ED include:

  • depression
  • disinterest
  • stress
  • low testosterone levels
  • smoking
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • chronic illnesses
  • kidney disorders
  • nerve damage from diabetes
  • stroke
  • injury
  • pelvic irradiation
  • recent surgery

Some medications may also cause ED, especially those that disrupt or alter the hormones, nerves, or circulation in the body. These include:

A doctor or pharmacist can help identify these potential side effects before a person starts a new medication.


Performance anxiety affects everyone differently, as everyone responds to stress and anxiety in different ways. In the body, this could produce various symptoms, such as premature ejaculation, inability to orgasm, or loss of interest in sex.

The physical symptoms of ED include trouble getting or keeping an erection and may also lead to a loss of sexual desire.


There are many tips that can help people cope with performance anxiety and ED, and help them have positive sexual experiences.


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