We live in a society saturated with sex. According to our sex obsessed societies, everyone is having sex all the time with many people and absolutely loving it. Putting sex under the spotlight like never before, is helping many of us bring our anxieties surrounding sex to the fore front. The truth is that many of us harbour certain anxieties surrounding our sex lives. In men, feeling anxious about having sex often translates to performance anxiety, which is experiences incredibly commonly by most men at one time or another.
The process of having sex is an extremely intimate experience and when we feel emotionally, mentally or physically anxious, being physical with our partners can feel overwhelming, especially if we believe that everyone is having sex quite happily all the time. There are many reasons why sex can provoke anxiety. Many reasons are common to both sexes, but there are also very specific sex related fears and obsessions that prevail in one gender only.
Am I good enough in bed?
Men are expected to be the sexual aggressor or the dominant sexual partner. Many men feel that it is their job to instigate sex. A large number of men saddle themselves with the heavy burden that if the sex in their relationship is unsuccessful, or unenjoyable, it is somehow their fault and their fault alone. Naturally this is a huge burden to carry and can be the source of incredible emotional and mental discomfort. Such intense anxiety can often lead to performance anxiety as one is living too much in the head rather than the body.
How to combat it: Boosting confidence elsewhere in life can greatly improve sexual prowess. The great thing about sex is that you can constantly work on it and improve. Think about times when your partner has complimented you about something that the two of you have sexually experienced together. If you fear disappointing your partner, ask your partner what they would enjoy in bed. Communication really helps dissipate many sex related anxieties.
What if this leads to something as serious as pregnancy?
The biological purpose of sex is to produce offspring. Humans are one of very few species in the world who have sex for pleasurable purposes. Many men, particularly those raised in religious or traditional households, may feel unwarranted anxiety surrounding the risk of pregnancy. After all parenthood is a life changing experience. If you have intricately fused your fear of becoming a father with the process of sex, the experience can feel more frightening than fantastic.
How to combat it: Two words – Contraceptives and condoms. Again, communication with your partner is so essential here. Discuss whether or not they would like to have children now or in the future. If you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the risk of pregnancy, use contraception. Your partner may be on the pill but whether she is or isn’t, using condoms in conjunction with the contraceptive pill greatly reduces the likelihood of pregnancy.
What if I catch a disease or something?
Another fear that can really take the heat out of a sexual encounter is the fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. It is quite possible to grow fixated on the potential negative repercussions of sex rather than the pleasurable outcome.
How to combat it: Sleeping with a new partner is often taken too lightly in our sex saturated societies. Before sleeping with a new partner, no matter how unromantic it may seem, having an STI check is essential. Once you are sleeping together you should build a sense of trust. Condoms decrease the chances of contracting most diseases and infections but regular STI checks will catch any conditions quicker meaning that they can be treated more effectively.
What if I can’t get an erection?
Having sex can feel like taking centre stage. Some men find themselves preoccupied over whether or not they will be able to get, or sustain, an erection. Focusing too much on this matter and becoming increasingly anxious is likely to lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Likewise increased consumption of alcohol or drugs to abate such fears can also increase the risk of an un-erect penis.
How to combat it: There are many reasons why a man may not be able to get an erection. It is important in this instance to consider what is holding you back. Porn addiction can cause men to find real life sex unstimulating as can excessive masturbation. Other times, it is simply a matter of excessive anxiety. Discussing your fears with a qualified Sexologist is a great way to get to the bottom of the matter.
What If I can’t put a condom on?
For men practising safe sex,i.e, placing a condom is not always easy. If one is anxious or uncomfortable, it can be difficult to focus on putting the condom on properly. For many, obsessing over putting on the condom can really kill the moment especially as condoms often interject the natural progression of sex. That is both partners must stall sex to ensure adequate protection is enforced before proceeding.
How to combat it: Thankfully with condoms, practice can make you perfect. You could also ask your partner to help you put on the condom during foreplay.
What If I come too quickly?
Many men fear premature ejaculation. The truth is an orgasm does not take a set period of time. Some men will ejaculate very quickly while others take more time. If a man has not had sex for a long period of time or is used to masturbating he is more likely to come quickly. The more sex a man has, the more he is able to elongate his ejaculation time. Premature ejaculation is incredibly common and effects many men at one point or another of their sex life.
How to combat it: Premature ejaculation is very common and sometimes can’t be helped. Most partners will be understanding about this. A Sexologist can help you practice exercises that will improve your performance time. Sometimes lifestyle factors can contribute to such sexual dysfunction. Again a Sexologist can advise you if your diet, consumption or lifestyle habits are negatively influencing your performance. Exercise and a healthy diet can really help.
What if my penis isn’t big enough?
Penises come in many sizes. There are many reasons why a man may grow anxious about the size, length and/or width of his penis. A common reason in today’s society is the influence of porn which can give many men unrealistic expectations about the normal size of an erect penis leading to unfruitful comparisons.
How to combat it: Firstly, don’t compare yourself to the men you see in porn or any external stimuli. Secondly, most of us have heard of the common saying, ‘it’s not the size of the boat; it’s the motion of the ocean.’ Penis length is a very small part of what makes sex satisfying. Most women feel more stimulated outside of the vagina on their clitoris. Working with your partner to offer internal and external stimulation will eliminate any anxieties you feel about the length of your penis.
If your anxieties are longstanding and negatively impacting your self-esteem, sex life or relationship, contacting a professional Sexologist is a great first step.