13 Effective Ways – How To Break The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety (2024)

This guide explains how to break the cycle of sexual performance anxiety for men. 

It includes 13 steps that men can take to break this cycle, and also includes tips for women to help their partners overcome this state of mind.   

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping people with various types of anxiety – and sexual performance anxiety is more common than you may realize. 

That’s why I’m pleased to share this guide on overcoming sexual performance anxiety with you. 

So, let’s dive in.  

Performance Anxiety
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What Happens To The Male Body: The Link Between Performance Anxiety And ED.

To overly simplify it, anxiety is essentially being overwhelmed with negative thoughts.

When this happens, an overflow of blood rushes to the brain.

This state of increased stress can cause sexual dysfunctions for men, because it weakens the rush of blood to the penis needed for a strong erection.

The end result tends to be erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.

In more severe cases of sexual performance anxiety, the male body can activate its ‘fight or flight’ response. This leads to an excess of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol putting your body into a state of panic. This can harm the blood flow to the penis too.

Anxiety attacks are also during extreme cases of sexual performance anxiety, which will surely  leave men in no state to perform sexually at all.

To achieve and maintain the strongest erections during a sexual encounter, the male body has to be ‘relaxed’.

When you’re overwhelmed with fear or anxiety, your body is in an extreme state of stress management.

In such cases, the key to solving your sexual dysfunction is reducing stress. The guide below is packed with ideas to help you reduce stress, no matter how high your anxiety levels currently are.   

What Is The Cycle Of Performance Anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety can last forever for men unless they take steps to address it. This is because they can easily get stuck in the following negative feedback loop. 

  • Something happens which leads a man to believe he didn’t ‘perform’ well in a sexual experience. Perhaps he suffered from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
  • These perceived sexual failures can lead to a loop of negative thoughts, such as shame, fear of losing their partner, stress and anxiety (not that it should).
  • This guy may end up over-thinking about what went wrong, engaging in more negative self-talk, creating more stress and anxiety long after the sexual event.   
  • These negative thoughts have a harsh impact on his mental health. He wants to avoid feeling like this ever again. 
  • During his next sexual encounter, he’s now more worried about sexual inadequacy than he is excited. 
  • This creates the physical symptoms of performance anxiety, which causes the physical problems he was worried about. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  
  • Now it’s happened again, he becomes even more anxious, which makes the sexual problems even more likely to return next time. 

This vicious cycle of performance anxiety is even more likely if the guy doesn’t know what’s happening to him.

If he thinks his erectile dysfunction is due to a physical problem out of his control, he may be more prone to panicking during his next encounter.

On the other hand, if he understood that he was just nervous, he might find it easier to relax next time.

Sadly, that’s easier said than done. That’s why I have created this list of ideas to help you  overcome sexual performance anxiety.  

Male Performance Anxiety Solutions

Don’t worry, you may not need all of these solutions. In fact, the only solution you need is to just relax.

Below is a list of ideas to help you to do that.

1. Stop Thinking Of Sex As A ‘Performance’

Start thinking about sex as a means of connection, intimacy and showing your partner you care about them.

The more these feelings are present, the greater a sexual experience tends to be for men and women

It’s not about pumping your woman as hard as you can for as long as you can.  

This attitude appears to have spread since the internet gave us easier access to adult movies – and it can be particularly harmful for young men who don’t know any better.

Male Performance
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2. Don’t Rush

There’s far more to sex than penetration.

Most women need foreplay before they’re ready to be penetrated. And there’s a lot of women who can’t orgasm from penetration. 

Yet, for whatever reason, a lot of men want to rush straight into it – and panic if their penis doesn’t get hard straight away.

That’s ironic because women commonly complain that their partners don’t focus enough on foreplay during sex.  

It’s a far better attitude to want to take your time – and enjoy every moment of physical intimacy with your sexual partner.

Tell yourself (or even tell her) that you might not get to full penetration – and that’s fine. You’ll both still have a great time. 

By taking the focus off of full sex – and simply enjoying each other’s bodies – you’ll often wash away any worries you have about erectile dysfunction.

3. Communicate

It’s not helpful choosing to ignore your anxiety and erectile dysfunction. What you resist persists, what you embrace dissolves.

It’s not weak to admit that you’re nervous and you’ll need your partner to be patient with you. That’s STRENGTH.

Now, your partner can let go of any fears that she was the problem.

What’s more, if she cares about you at all, she’ll now hopefully be able to help you realize that there’s no rush and you can relax.  

4. Be Present

If you catch yourself stuck in your thoughts during sexual activity, take a deep breath and return to the present moment.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds – especially if you’re managing performance anxiety – but it’s a skill you can practice and improve over time.

Meditation is a great exercise to help you. For more ideas, check out this list of 11 proven ways to empty your mind 

5. Take A Break From ‘Hook-Up Culture’

As long as you’re taking care of your sexual health, there’s nothing so bad about hooking up with someone you just met. It can be a lot of fun.

However, if you’re suffering from insecurities about your body image, penis size or sexual performance, sleeping with people you barely know is unlikely to help.

In fact, it’s common to feel more anxious sleeping with people you just met. In these types of encounters, there tends to be less focus on intimacy and more on performance. This can fuel the cycle of performance anxiety which is so hard to escape from. 

To overcome sexual performance activity, you’re probably better off developing a relationship with a partner who you know cares about you. 

You’ll find it easier to communicate honestly and focus on intimacy with a partner like this, safe in the knowledge that this person likes you for who you are. 

6. Stop Judging Yourself

In recent times, there appears to have been a lot of false ideas about masculinity spreading through society.

The idea that a ‘real man’  has a gallant sexual history and can plow through women endlessly is certainly an example of toxic masculinity.

‘Real men’ can suffer from mental health problems like anxiety, trauma or depression. It is not a reflection of their masculinity at all.

So, stop linking your anxiety and erectile dysfunction with your identity as a man. There is no correlation at all.

7. Avoid Adult Movies

Adult movies don’t just give men a false idea of their partner’s expectations.

They can also desensitize them to the thrills of real-life sexual activity.  

There have been several peer-reviewed studies from various academic research institutions linking regular watching of adult movies to a decreased sex drive. This can lead to ED symptoms and other mental issues.

You’re better off cutting them out of your life altogether.  

8. Avoid Drugs And Alcohol

Alcohol and other drugs can remove you from presence, lower your sexual desire and increase anxiety.

Worse yet, regardless of these issues, they can unbalance your hormones, making it more difficult to get an erection. 

That’s the perfect formula for disappointing sexual experiences, then.

If you’re trying to overcome sexual performance anxiety, drugs and alcohol clearly aren’t the answer.

9. Reduce Stress In Other Areas Of Your Life 

Stress has the same physical impact on your body, regardless of what you’re stressed about. This includes muscle tension, high blood pressure and lower sexual desire, among other things. 

So, you’re just as likely to suffer from physical symptoms of ED when you’re stressed about work, family or anything else.  

By reducing stress in other areas of your life, you’re less likely to suffer from these problems.

Of course, sex can be a great stress relief, if it’s not sexual activity that’s worrying you in the first place. Ideally, you’ll be able to put on some romantic music or a sexy movie, become intimate with your partner and witness all your other troubles melt away, at least momentarily.  

10. Work On Your Low Self-Esteem

Those with low self-esteem may be more likely to fall into the trap of thinking they need to ‘perform’ well to keep a woman interested in them.

Those with high self-esteem might be able to relax, knowing they deserve a beautiful woman and that she’ll enjoy spending time with him regardless of his sexual prowess.

11. Does Viagra Work For Performance Anxiety?

Viagra might work as a placebo for a man with sexual performance anxiety. 

If he believes that viagra will solve his erectile dysfunction, he’ll relax and it probably will.

However, various men’s health and medical news sources state that if a man is still suffering from the physical symptoms of performance anxiety, Viagra still might not be able to help him.

It’s recommended to seek professional medical advice before taking Viagra.

In many cases, you’ll only be prescribed it if a doctor believes there are physical causes for your erectile dysfunction. If you admit you experience performance anxiety, you’re more likely to be recommended assistance with your mental health.  

12. Commit To A Healthier Lifestyle

The following lifestyle changes could lead to naturally stronger erections, which may in turn help to alleviate a man’s sexual performance anxiety.

  • Physical exercise;
  • Eating healthy;
  • Giving up smoking;
  • Better sleep;
  • Meditation;
  • Any other activities linked with improved testosterone. 

13. Speak Professional Help From A Therapist

Sometimes, sexual performance anxiety is linked to a traumatic event. In this case, it can be particularly difficult to overcome by yourself.

If overcoming performance anxiety alone is a struggle, I would urge you to seek professional help from a therapist.

A sex therapist specialises in mental blocks linked to sexual problems. However, any accredited therapist will be aware of how to help a client overcome the causes of sexual performance anxiety and prescribe the correct treatment plan. 

Hypnotherapy is a particularly useful therapy technique for healing men with performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction – or any generalized anxiety disorder.

Related Content: Ways How To Overcome The Fear Of Driving On A Highway 

Dating A Guy With Performance Anxiety

Photo By wayhomestudio On freepik

Let’s close off the article with a quick guide for women to help their partners overcome performance anxiety.

What Does Performance Anxiety Feel Like? 

When a man is experiencing performance anxiety, his body is essentially in a state of panic.

You might be doing all sorts of pleasurable things to his body, but he’s too stuck in his thoughts to truly enjoy them.

When this happens, blood flows to his brain instead of his penis.  

It’s not that he’s not attracted to you, it’s that he’s too panicked for his penis to get fully hard.

This can create even more panic and shame within him, making the problem even worse. 

Performance Anxiety With New Partner

Sexual performance anxiety in men is most common with a new partner.  

This is because a lot of men are plagued with the idea that they have to ‘perform’ in order to impress and keep their new partner.

Ironically, this mindset often makes it more difficult for him to do that.

Signs He Has Performance Anxiety

The most obvious signs will be downstairs. He’ll either be suffering from erectile dysfunction or he’ll ejaculate far too quickly.

Other signs of performance anxiety might occur before you even take your clothes off. These could include any nervous behavior or a general lack of presence 

What To Do When Your Boyfriend Has Performance Anxiety

The best thing you can do is to let your man know it’s not a big deal. 

Tell him that there’s no rush to get to full penetration. Show him you love it when he pleasures you in other ways. Let him know that there will still be another date in the future (if that’s how you feel).

When you do this, you’ll be surprised how often he relaxes and you end up having a ‘successful’ sex session shortly afterwards.  

The worst thing you can do is ask questions or make statements that fuel his anxiety. 

“What’s wrong with you?” 

“Hurry up.” 

“Is it broken?”

Women typically do this because they think they are to blame for his sexual dysfunction and become defensive.

Hopefully, now you understand the link between performance anxiety and ED a little better, you’ll choose to be supportive instead. 

Related Content: How To Help A Man With Low Self-Esteem 

Any More Questions On Overcoming Sexual Performance Anxiety?

Thanks for reading my guide!

I hope you better understand why men experience performance anxiety and the various psychological factors at play. 

If you have any confusion about the link between performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction or how to overcome it, feel free to ask a question in the comments section below.

It will be great to hear from you.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.