This is an extract of Chapter Seven of From Princess to Queen: Heartbreaks, Heartgasms, and Everything In-Between – the third book of Relationship Counselor and Clinical Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching published in 2017.
Anxiety is a normal part of life. We all have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. In fact, anxiety is one mechanism that evolved to keep us alert and help us cope in stressful events or situations. More specifically, performance anxiety refers to self-consciousness about the quality of one’s performance that, in turn, decreases the quality of one’s performance.
Sexual anxiety may present itself as a form of performance anxiety. Typically, there is so much preoccupation with the anxiety itself that the person becomes less fully involved in the sexual interaction, bringing about the very failure that is feared.
Male sexual performance anxiety is usually described as when a man has trouble getting an erection. This issue is hardly ever discussed openly by men, for fear of losing their projected ‘macho’ image.
Fears of sexual performance are not limited to men. For women, it might include worries about physical responsiveness – such as the speed with which vaginal lubrication or orgasm is attained, or the length of time that lubrication or orgasm is maintained. On a broader level, anxiety can also be reflected in how much passion, tenderness, intimacy, and sensitivity a person feels toward his or her partner.
Sexual anxiety may also be part of a social anxiety complex where people may feel that they are inferior to others in some important way, or where they are overly concerned about other people’s reactions. Whether sexual anxiety is part of performance or social anxiety, it can result in lowered self-esteem, avoidance of sexual encounters, relationship breakdowns and further sexual difficulties.
In this cycle, anticipation of the next sexual encounter arouses the same anxiety coupled with the memory of the previous failure and often perpetuates the problems. It might lead to an avoidance of sexual activity altogether, or at least a minimization of the amount of sexual interaction that occurs. In turn, the partner might misinterpret the behaviour as a form of rejection. The underlying reason for avoidance is usually to save face so the person feels more in control and less guilty about being inadequate.
These are a few suggestions where anxieties revolving around sexual performance are concerned:
- The first remedy has to be communicating with your partner about what is happening. Attaining the understanding and support of your partner should reduce some of your symptoms. If you find other sexual activities that you can do in bed, this should take some of the stress off sex.
- Focus on enjoying the whole process of sexual intercourse and don’t torment yourself by thinking solely of the end result or goal – the Big ‘O’. The emphasis is on the sensations – staying in your body, remaining in the moment.
- Let go of the erroneous belief that men are always ready, willing, and able to perform sexually. Besides sexual anxiety, there might be other factors at play such as tiredness, illness, resentment, not being attracted to your partner, or just not being in the mood.
- Sexual coaching can take you from where you are at the moment, to where you want to be. Home assignments are given where your goals are broken into smaller, achievable exercises which will help you learn how to overcome your sexual anxiety.
- Hypnosis can reduce sexual performance anxiety to promote a more relaxed and confident sense of self; optimize self-esteem, happiness, and boost self-confidence.
- Prescription drugs can be used to treat erectile difficulties. The medication works by enhancing nerve signals that causes nerve signals to be sent from the brain to the male genital organ, which results in the organ becoming erect. Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Zydena (in Malaysia) are some of the drugs you can talk to your doctor about.
Lastly, sex is supposed to be un-self-conscious and pleasurable. Until you let go of what you ‘ought’ to be doing, or of what is ‘right’ or ‘best’ for you or your partner, you are not going to be able to enjoy the experience. We need to learn to let go of control, receive, release, and feel.
This article first appeared on The Online Citizen in Nov 2010.
Like this? You can purchase the book From Princess to Queen: Heartbreaks, Heartgasms, and Everything In-Between here. Download your sample chapter of my third book From Princess to Queen here! http://ow.ly/Z34q30gNLg8
About Dr. Martha Tara Lee
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and completed her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in 2017. In practice for eight years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, Orgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.