Sex is supposed to be exciting and pleasurable, and most men spend a great deal of time and energy seeking it out. Yet, when it comes down to the moment, it is not unusual for a guy to feel anxious and worried - will he be able to perform? Is he doing it right? Is his partner enjoying him- or herself? When these concerns turn into obtrusive thoughts that interfere constantly with a man’s ability to perform, or even cause him to avoid sex altogether, he may be experiencing sexual performance anxiety. The cycle of worry and inability to perform can be difficult to break, but with the right treatment, in combination with a healthy approach to penis care, men can overcome their anxiety and go on to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sex life.

What causes sexual performance anxiety?

There are many different factors that can lead to anxiety about one’s sexual performance. These can include:

- Worry about the ability to please a partner;

- Body image issues such as worrying that one is too fat or unattractive;

- Relationship problems;

- Concerns about penis size;

- Fears about premature or delayed ejaculation;

- Previous experience with erectile dysfunction or other performance problems;

- Generalized anxiety

The sexual response is not only physical; the emotions and a man’s overall state of mind also play a very important role. Feeling anxious and worried during moments of intimacy with a partner are likely to interfere with this response, leading to an inability to enjoy the moment, to be attentive or to perform well.

What are the symptoms?

Anxiety about being unable to perform or to satisfy a partner can cause a stress response in the body. Stress causes the blood vessels to constrict - part of the body’s so-called "fight-or-flight" response to a perceived threat. Constriction of the blood vessels can make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection or maintain it long enough to reach orgasm.

Men who have experienced this problem naturally worry about it happening in the future, and this worry can lead to further performance problems, setting them up for a cycle of anxiety and failure. This can cause frustration, anger, loss of self-esteem and relationship problems, and it can diminish a man’s general quality of life, so getting help is an important step.

What can men - and their partners - do to reduce sexual performance anxiety?

It can be difficult to seek help for problems related to sexual performance; few men really relish the idea of talking to a professional about their perceived failure to perform. However, a medical professional can provide helpful information, as well as recommendations for treatment. In most cases, they have seen similar problems many times.

Before recommending a plan for treatment, a physician may run a variety of tests to determine whether an underlying physical or mental health problem, or a medication that a man may be taking, is causing the performance issue. After ruling out or confirming these possibilities, some treatment options available include:

- Medications for erectile dysfunction;

- Counseling therapy to help men deal with any psychological issues;

- Couples therapy;

- Techniques for preventing premature ejaculation

Additional care measures

Beyond medical treatment and counseling, there are other things that men can do to feel better about themselves and about their ability to perform:

- Talking openly with a partner about the problem and assuring them that it is not a lack of physical attraction can help create a closer bond and reduce levels of anxiety for both partners.

- Finding other ways to be intimate - cuddling, bathing together, engaging in mutual masturbation without the expectation of sex - can take away the sense of pressure to perform and help a couple to feel closer.

- Exercising regularly can also be highly effective. Exercise is recommended for most types of anxiety, because it raises the levels of "feel-good" neurotransmitters in the brain and can help men to feel relaxed and confident. It also increases blood flow and improves stamina - all important factors in a man’s ability to perform.

- Engaging in personal care and hygiene is another way that men can take control and feel better about the way they look - which can in turn increase their level of self-confidence and lower anxiety. Showering daily, shaving or keeping the beard trimmed and dressing in clean clothing are good places to start. Men may also want to give their groin area a little bit of extra attention by trimming the hair (which can cut down on unpleasant smells, along with making the penis appear larger). Applying a top-shelf penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) that is enriched with natural emollients, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants can also leave the penis feeling healthy, responsive and ready for the next intimate encounter.