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Performance Anxiety


Performance Anxiety and Erectile Dysfunction

Take, for example, erectile dysfunction. It is a disorder that can develop as an outgrowth of performance anxiety. Isolated episodes of not getting an erection or of losing an erection at an inopportune time are so common that they are almost a universal occurrence among men.

Such isolated episodes do not mean that a man has a sexual dysfunction. They may occur as a result of a temporary physical stress (having a cold, being tired, having consumed a large meal or too much alcohol), or may relate to other problems like tension, lack of privacy, or nervousness about a new partner.

If the man does not take such incidents in stride and becomes upset by his failure to respond physically, he may set the stage for difficulties in future sexual experiences by worrying about his ability (or inability) to perform.

Fears of sexual performance ("Will I lose my erection?" "Will I satisfy my partner?") are likely to put a damper on sexual arousal and cause loss of erection. Eventually the fears may become so pervasive that they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and the man will experience an actual inability to get or keep an erection.

"The most important thing to be learned about performance anxiety is that the anxiety itself works against sexual arousal and sexual functioning," says sex and relationship expert Dr. Drew.

Women aren't immune to performance anxiety. "They tend to be very concerned about the experience the male is having," says Dr. Drew. "They blame themselves for how they look, how they are acting or moving — for any shortcoming in the interaction." What women should keep in mind: "The reality is that men are delighted that you are there — they are overjoyed. It's almost impossible for the experience to be screwed by anything you do," says Dr. Drew. "Probably the only way you can enhance the experience for a man is to show a little enthusiasm and to actually be aroused. If you're worried about your performance, I suggest to you that you are wasting your time worrying about something that you are incapable of screwing up."

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute


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