How To Overcome Performance Anxiety In Bed (Plus: A Woman’s Perspective)

Performance Anxiety In Bed

You may be a pretty confident man over-all. There’s nothing wrong with your techniques and delivery, and you’ve been with girls who’ve gushed about your sexual prowess.For some reason though, things are just not going your way, and when I say your way, I mean, things are just not looking up for you, in the least bit.

Living with performance anxiety is not easy.

It’s something that can tear away at your confidence little by little, making it harder to face sexual activities each and every time. Most importantly, it can put a lot of strain on otherwise happy and fulfilled relationships.

The first thing to know is that it’s actually pretty common. No, you’re not broken and yes, you can overcome this terrible development.

ED (erectile dysfunction), PE (premature ejaculation), and DE (delayed ejaculation) are all common sexual anxiety related issues and often have psychological origins.

It’s always a good idea to check out your lifestyle too, though, as this could be a factor in your performance anxiety. Things like stress, lack of exercise, body weight and even a bad diet can make a huge difference and add or detract from your sexual performance. However, far and above the rest, it seems that sexual performance anxiety stems pretty much directly from a concern related to sexual intimacy.

Let’s take a look at anxiety

Anxiety can really do a number on your body.

Not only does angst have physical repercussions, it can change your behavior drastically. Actually, the fight or flight response is a pretty helpful one that has its place and has served mankind well over time.

When you’re stressed, the body releases cortisone and adrenaline, great for some people, awful for others.

This is what gives you drive or freezes you up in an action-packed situation, like a sexual encounter. However, prolonged exposure to stress has the opposite effect in that it lowers the body’s coping mechanisms and opens the way for anxiety, or anxiety disorders to form.

The symptoms of anxiety can be prevalent, or they can be so subtle that it’s hard to pick up on whether you are suffering from it or not. But it’s important to note the subtle signs so that you can be prepared and start making those changes.

  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Constant worry
  • Lack of desire to do things that were usually pleasurable
  • Lack of confidence in performing a task

What’s your take on sex?

Society has a love-hate relationship with sex. But it’s a pretty natural element of life. Of course, there’s a ton of things that go into having a healthy sexual relationship and it’s definitely not as cut and dry as pants off, bra off, burn some rubber and smoke a cigar.

But that’s just it. Mostly, we’re in 2 minds about sex: we love it, but there are limits. We want it, but not so much that it messes with our psyche.

And then, most of us take sex for granted. It’s a way to burn steam. But is it really? I mean, yes that’s certainly one of the advantages of sex, but what is the purpose of sex, other than the physiological reasons? 

There’s nothing wrong with having a thriving sexual confidence.

In fact, it’s the stuff men are made of. But painting a picture of perfect confidence all the time is going to set your expectations at a very high, sometimes unattainable level.

Many would have you believe the reason ED, DE, and PE is so prevalent is that men cannot hide when things don’t work out the way it was planned. If you’re not hard and nothing works to get you hard, then there’s nothing more you can do. But this thinking is wrong and it limits your options, sending you further down the spiral of anxiety. Essentially, it’s this thinking that can lead to compounded anxiety and tension problems later on.


How can your view of sex lead to performance anxiety?

It’s quite simple and much the same as anxiety phobias. Something triggers a feeling of inadequacy: this could be an event, something a woman has said to you directly or indirectly related to your performance, techniques or body, or it could be as a result of not meeting your own expectations.

Once this feeling is triggered your mind tells you it would rather not experience that again. Or it was so directly embarrassing, you yourself feel as if you do not want to go through that again.


How does porn fit into the whole situation?

We’re taught to be sexually in control of the situation, ourselves, and our partners. It’s insinuated in the different media avenues all around us and in one in particular: Porn. Women are portrayed as vulnerable and in need, always for the taking. Men are portrayed as strong and masculine. Being ready to perform and do so for hours being a top priority.

The fact of the matter is that it’s unrealistic. This portrayal, as exciting as it is, can be deeply damaging to the way we eventually come to perceive sex. The act of intimacy is not always about being in control; essentially, it is about giving up that control with the person you’re with. (Note, I did not say losing control).  Things almost always play out differently, and when your expectations are not met, this could give rise to sexual anxiety.


A quick look at how porn can affect your performance

  • High expectations are set.
  • Your own performance doesn’t match up to the views you formulated while watching porn.
  • Your lady friend’s performance doesn’t match up.
  • Porn doesn’t teach you long term sexual relationship intimacy


Now that you have the psychological background to why porn may not be the best thing for you, but there’s also a very physical take on it and that’s the one of masturbation. Or, at least, extreme amounts of masturbation.

Many sex therapists believe that over-masturbating could cause a lack of sensation. Every time you watch porn or experience an orgasm the brain overflows with dopamine. Meaning that too much action requires ever higher levels of dopamine to keep you satisfied over extended periods of time. Eventually, this over-stimulation leads to a drop in sensitivity, thus leading to an ED problem.



Are you doing the following things that could be damaging your view on your sexual performance and cause performance anxiety?

  • Watching porn. And here’s the kicker, it’s often the type of porn that can also dent your confidence, as strange as it may sound.
  • Masturbating often and fantasizing about what you see in porn magazines, shows and online.
  • Often putting yourself down pre or post sexual encounters due to unmet expectations
  • Living an unhealthy lifestyle

I want to explore the possibilities and options with you, and hopefully you can identify with and find yourself in this list of ideas.

Don’t block your performance anxiety out

One of the biggest no-no’s is to block out what you’re feeling or keep it hidden. It’s one of the worst things you can do, and opening up about it can heal and has healed many a man, eradicating the signs.

Try not to concentrate on your shortcomings

Sex is meant to be fun and feel good. It’s meant to be a shared experience between two people who want to connect. Concentrating on your shortcomings and getting lost in thought is the quickest way to cut off that connection. Plus let’s be honest, how sexy is the thought: am I doing this right?

Think differently

Ok, bear with me here. Thinking differently can be a huge lifesaver at the moment, trust me. Use the question mentioned in the above point, “am I doing this right?” That can be a pretty discouraging or encouraging point to concentrate on depending on how you choose to see it. You could ask a question like that or you could ask: what can I do to make it even more explosive than it already is?

Realize that it’s not a game changer

Because performance anxiety is so crippling, thinking of it has a domino effect, it’s going to make it worse, much worse and it can quickly become a completely debilitating condition. Instead of thinking there’s nothing worse, realize that what you’re experiencing is not permanent, and that there are many other ways of experiencing intense and amazing sexual pleasure even when your tools of the trade aren’t playing the game.

Play games

Instead of relying on porn to do it for you, leave the fun for the times you spend with your lady friend. Give her a fresh stage and get involved, fantasize about her, about her curves, about the way she moves. After all, you’re with her for a reason.



I asked a female friend for her take on performance anxiety. Here’s what she is really thinking about a man with ED, DE or PE problems. And it’s not nearly as bad as we all think.       

(The following is written by “Jennifer”)                                                                                                                     

What do women think about performance anxiety?


I’d like to give you insight into how we think. I realize it’s not direct techniques for change, but it will help you put some things into perspective, hopefully allowing you to lessen your sexual anxiety. 

We don’t define our men by their sexual acts. (Unless you do something really dodgy)

To be honest, most women would probably see this as an opportunity to connect with you in ways other than penetration. As a side note, penetration can be pretty boring if that’s your main focus. Blunt, I know, but I’m saying it as it is and hopefully you’ll take it up as a positive thing.

The biggest turnoff

Is not that you can’t get it up. It’s that the fun ends when you realize you can’t get it up. Or worse, we now have to spend 5 hours focusing solely on trying to make it work. 5 hours that could have been spent exploring the nether regions in glorious and explosive detail.

It’s also the idea that sex is solely for your pleasure (i.e. sex = penetration. If there is no penetration, then there is no pleasure, if there is no pleasure, then you turn your back on the person you’re with. (insert frown here) not cool.

With regards to PE. It’s quite simple, if it’s all going to end when you come, she’s going to be upset.

Premature ejaculation is really not all that bad to us ladies. 

Just don’t quit while you’re ahead. If you can’t penetrate her further, Use your tongue, use your hand, or use her secret dildo. Don’t feel embarrassed; just give her the best damn reason to keep coming back for more. 

You’re hot

The equation is quite simple. You’re hot. You’re in her bed, (or on the counter, wherever) because she wants you there. Yes, she wants you to be gentlemanly and be amazing in bed, but that really boils down to character and consideration first, then technique, then the rest.

To clarify that:

Character – Don’t be an asshole. Treat her right. Don’t do things she DOESN’T want you to do.

Consideration – Let your inner freak out and allow her to let hers out. LISTEN to what her body is saying and follow that wherever it takes you, so long as you’re both comfortable. Can’t go wrong with this one.

Remember this one thing:

We’ve got so much anxiety plaguing us as well. Will he like what I have? Will I taste ok, does he think I’m fat, should I shave more, should I shave less? Does he really like me or is he just using me? These thoughts cripple us too, probably at the same time your performance anxiety is crippling you.

If you shut out the woman in your life, and you don’t let her know what’s going on, you’re likely killing the sexual pleasure she has for you. By denying her the opportunity to understand that it is not her fault, you’re slowly making her feel that she’s unwelcome in the bedroom.

By opening up, you allow her to continue to want you and want you bad.

Trust me, she’ll wait.

We know that performance anxiety can wreak havoc and break your confidence. We go through the same (hence the faking orgasm problem) Most men feel that it is their duty to perform a sexual act on a woman… bear with me here, please… when, in fact, it is your duty to perform it with a woman, to a woman, over a woman, inside a woman. Get what I mean? The one makes a woman feel like an object, the other brings out the raw, uninhibited and guilt-free intimacy in a woman.

Be open to new experiences, de-stress your lifestyle and let her explore your body and your mind.

Because sex is a two-way road, it’s important that it’s an open two-way road.  Tension over a bad experience will only grow if you don’t make room for it to come out. Too often, for those struggling with sexual anxiety what happens under the sheets begins to define their lives and character.

Let your woman walk the road with you. You’ll feel lighter letting out the load of carrying the tensions, and she can clear things up for you. It’s likely you may have the wrong perspective and you’re allowing it all to hang on that one nail – no pun intended.


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    About Ryan

    Ryan K. Atkinson is an aspiring writer who has a keen interest in coaching wellness and promoting growth and understanding about the natural body - and it's needs.


    1. Really great to hear a women’s perspective! Thanks for the read.

    2. THE absolute best article on this subject that I’ve read over the years… and I genuinely mean that. Puts so many things in perspective and I’m especially grateful for making me realise that how you choose to react to the circumstance, truly makes all the difference; as you advise: the fun needn’t stop just because your member may not be working on that particular occasion. A woman will appreciate your honesty and willingness to please her in other ways regardless… Many thanks again buddy!

      • Hi Martin,
        Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m really glad you liked the article. I think there is a lot to be said for how you react to the circumstances!

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