Top
Man sitting on edge of bed looking disappointed.

Erectile Dysfunction vs Performance Anxiety: Know the Differences

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and performance anxiety are related, but are not the same thing. Learn the difference, and how to tell the two apart, and you can address your issues more effectively.

It usually starts with that one night. The first time you can’t get an erection. You feel ashamed and your body becomes tense. You can’t stop thinking about it. I’m pretty young, I’m healthy. What’s wrong with me? Why have I failed?

Then comes the next evening. Instead of feeling the excitement at the amazing sex you’re about to have, all you can picture is yourself. Failing. Again. The vicious circle begins. The more you worry about performance, the harder it gets to have an erection.

Panic begins to sink in. I must have ED, you think. Will I ever be able to have good sex again?

Understanding the cause of erectile problems

Before you give in to despair, hear this: erectile dysfunction is treatable. Want more good news? The underlying cause of your problems may not be related to your physical health at all.

How is that good news, you might ask. It’s likely that you’re experiencing performance anxiety. This is a common psychological condition which leads to ED symptoms. With the right treatment, you can overcome it and erectile problems will be a thing of the past.

Performance Anxiety can lead to EDMan peeking out from behind a shower curtain.

Performance anxiety is like stage fright in the bedroom. A man wants to prove he is a good lover. He gets stressed out. He starts to doubt in his ability to have an erection.

If this type of negative thinking becomes a pattern, the mind may start influencing the body. Stress hormones narrow blood vessels in the penis. Enter: erectile difficulties.

Performance anxiety is one of the main reasons behind erectile issues in younger men. According to a 2018 UK survey, 50% of men in their thirties experience ED. Men across all age groups reported the same possible causes: stress, tiredness and anxiety.

What’s interesting, watching adult films can make a man even more self-conscious. For example, he may start worrying about his penis size. Pornography is a source of unrealistic role models. Actors who appear in those films are selected based on their above-average genitals.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or keep an erection. As a result, intercourse becomes impossible. Both psychological and physical factors may contribute to this sexual concern. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, common conditions affecting erectile function include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Nerve damage

It’s important to consult a physician as soon as possible to get the right diagnosis. There are different treatments for ED and performance anxiety. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and order tests if necessary. Other circumstances need to be considered too. For example, your current medication may interfere with your ability to have an erection.

What treatments are available for ED and performance anxiety?

Modern medical treatments for ED are highly successful. Your doctor will recommend the best solution. You may be prescribed oral medication, such as Viagra or Levitra. For best results, you may have to make some lifestyle changes, for example lose weight or quit smoking.

If your doctor suspects performance anxiety, you will be referred out to a therapist or couples counselor. You will attend sessions to learn about stress management and understand your insecurities.

Erectile dysfunction is not just a man’s problem. It affects his partner too. Couples counselling can help you communicate better. You will have a chance to talk about your fears in a safe environment. Not only will you regain confidence but also you will have a chance to strengthen the relationship.

Overcoming shame surrounding ED

When you first experience erectile difficulties, you may feel alone with this problem. Men often feel ashamed to tell their partner or even the doctor. The sooner you gather the courage to ask for help, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your intimate life again.

Remember that erectile dysfunction is very common and treatable in most cases. Online solutions allow you to reduce the stress of getting the treatment you need. Click here to explore your options of obtaining ED medications safely and discreetly.

Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy parents solve their intimate problems.