Possibly every man will suffer from sexual performance anxiety at one time or another during the course of his sexual life. Sexual performance anxiety occurs when a man anticipates having some form of difficulty, such as difficulties with, or maintaining erections, or lack of arousal, causing him to be anxious or even panicked approaching or during sex. This can lead to a lack of desire or an avoidance of sex altogether. If one is able to have normal erections at other times apart from sex, e.g. when waking in the morning, or when masturbating, one is capable of having erections firm enough for intercourse, and thus the cause is unlikely to be physiological. If this isn’t the case, it’s a good idea to get a checkup rather than leave it to chance. The problems performance anxiety causes in relationships aren’t limited to simply the lack of physical sex, but the lack of mutually intimate expression, feelings a man has about himself, his partner, and sex itself.
Physiologically, anxiety is a reaction, meant to be a warning system of a threat or danger; an evolutionary remnant from when our species was potential prey to predators. For example, when a saber-tooth tiger preyed upon early humans on the Savannah, some the symptoms resulting from anxiety-heart beating hard, fast, or pounding, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, and fears of losing control, came in handy escaping predators. Still, even in the saber tooth tiger situation many of these symptoms are not ideal-one wouldn’t necessarily want to deal with vomiting while trying to run from the saber-tooth tiger. And when the situation is the prospect of having sex with a partner one is attracted to, they are not wanted at all. In fact, they go counter to the immediate experience.
Humans are not geared to be anxious and have sex at the same time. Further, the symptoms of anxiety cause excessive worry and give one an exaggerated view of their problems, leaving them irritable, easily scared, and even depressed. If a man is anxious that there may be a problem during sex, his warning system doesn’t differentiate between real and perceived danger, but simply does its job, releasing chemicals that interfere with his sexual performance. More often than not, the real danger around sex is emotional, or psychological, and the resulting anxiety a rather unfortunate manifestation of these. But because the warning system acts on a perceived problem, without the man’s buy-in-he certainly doesn’t want this particular response-he not only has this unwanted, or unwarranted anxiety but a physiological response that feels out of his control. This creates a self-fulfilling fear.