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Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
Today’s episode of the Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is about performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction.
The Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is dedicated to educating and empowering men to address erectile dysfunction, improve confidence, and enhance the satisfaction in their relationships. This podcast is hosted by certified sex therapist, Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST.
Transcript of Episode 8 – Performance Anxiety and Erectile Dysfunction
In this episode of the “Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast,” we’re talking about performance
anxiety and erectile dysfunction. If there is one word or one phrase that I had to pick that I believe is most associated with erectile dysfunction and with sexual function in general, it’s got to be performance anxiety. And I think it makes a lot of sense.
Performance anxiety is not limited to erectile dysfunction. It’s probably a part of any sexual dysfunction and, in my estimation, is probably one of the most common features across the board for men who have experienced or are continuing to experience erectile dysfunction.
So what exactly is performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety is a pronounced worry or fear about engaging in or completing a specific task. This can happen in a wide range of areas of life, including school, work, sports, and other forms of public performance. I think that’s an important point.
Performance anxiety is almost always in the context of being in front of another person or people. Performance anxiety, when it comes to sex and erections, is most likely to happen when you are trying to engage with a partner.
Keep in mind, erections that you use to engage with a partner almost always originate with some form of desire or arousal. Anxiety is mind occupying and takes you away from those elements. Anxiety also elicits emotions, like fear, and your body can respond with avoidance, and that includes erection problems.
How can you tell if you are having performance anxiety, and in particular, if that’s contributing to your erectile dysfunction? Well, if you are listening to this podcast and are experiencing ED, there is a good chance that you experience performance anxiety. I want to emphasize this though: I think that it’s normal to experience some performance anxiety.
Not all anxiety has to be eliminated. And realistically, it may not be able to. Anxiety has to be managed, and performance anxiety is no different. Again, anxiety has to be managed to the point that it is not overly distressing and there is room for desire and pleasure. If anxiety is overly distressing, why would you want to be there? What is in it for you?
So what does anxiety feel like? Anxiety is going to feel different for each person. There are physiological signs, there are cognitive signs, and there are emotional signs. Some of the physiological signs include increased heart rate, sweating, feeling like there’s a pit in your stomach, breathing heavy. Cognitive elements generally include what is called ruminating or racing thoughts.
How that rumination is experienced will vary from person to person, from guy to guy. Some men will experience a low grade, almost unnoticeable train of thought, while others will experience pronounced thought intrusion.
Common thoughts include, “I’m not big enough,” “She won’t or doesn’t like it,” “I won’t last long enough,” and “I will lose my erection.” The most common emotion that goes along with anxiety is fear, the fear of rejection, fear of being shamed, fear of being embarrassed. A guy may feel nervous, and he may also feel helpless.
What fuels performance anxiety in erectile dysfunction? A common trigger for performance anxiety is a negative experience. This can happen in a solo setting but more commonly happens with a partner.
Sometimes this is driven by a partner’s reaction, but more often than not, that performance anxiety originates in what the guy thinks about his own performance and in what he thinks his partner is thinking about his performance.
Another driver of performance anxiety is misinformation. High expectations lead to increased performance concerns. The less you know about what to expect of yourself and to expect of your partner, the more likely you are to be nervous, to be fearful, and to overthink what you are doing and what is happening.
A very important driver of performance anxiety when it comes to erectile dysfunction is when a man doesn’t trust his erection process.
Like anything in the body, if you focus on it, if you are worried that something is wrong, you will notice and feel things in a more pronounced way. There is a high likelihood that those things are happening in your body quite often. You just don’t realize it.
As an example, if I ask you to stand and pay attention to what you are feeling in your feet, you will probably notice things that you haven’t noticed before. That’s normal, and it’s not a sign of anything problematic. Your erections are the same thing.
As you pay attention, you notice things that you are not aware of before. That does not mean that you have discovered a problem. Erections wax and wane. They shift, they pulsate, they fluctuate in rigidity. It was like that before your ED. It just didn’t matter, and you didn’t pay any attention to it.
If you don’t trust that process and you’re paying attention, natural movements and fluctuations will fuel performance concerns.
Performance anxiety is a topic unique to every man who is experiencing ED and even those who are not experiencing ED. You do not have to have erectile dysfunction in order to have performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is probably a part of every person’s sexual interactions.
If you think performance anxiety might be impacting you and your erection process, if you have a medical solution for your ED and you’re experiencing distress, fear, worry, concern that it won’t last long enough, it won’t be hard enough, if you’re finding that these thoughts are intrusive, that they’re getting in the way leading up to and during sexual engagement, you may want to spend some time addressing this performance anxiety.
Learning how to build a more trusting relationship with your erection process and ultimately increasing your sexual satisfaction.
I generally end these podcasts by saying, if you think that these factors are impacting you, however, I’m rather certain that these factors impact everybody.
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