It’s easy to confuse sexual performance anxiety with erectile dysfunction (ED), as both have the same effect on men. However, that is where most of their similarities end because they are not the same.
Therefore, if you want to improve your sexual health, you must first correctly identify your sexual dysfunction.
This post digs into the differences between sexual performance anxiety vs. erectile dysfunction — their meaning, causes, and treatment. In the end, you should have all the information you need in order to ask a doctor for help.
Understanding and Defining Both Sexual Dysfunctions
To begin, let us define what constitutes sexual performance anxiety and ED. From here, we can identify the immediate difference between the two.
- Definition of Sexual Performance Anxiety: Sexual performance anxiety deals with the worries regarding sexual function and whether or not his partner will be satisfied with his performance. Due to the many thoughts creeping his head, he cannot achieve an erection as a result. This disorder affects 9-25% men according to the National Library of Medicine.
- Definition of Erectile Dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability of men to get an erection due to physical and medical conditions, which we will discuss later. Roughly half of all men above 40 years old will report having erectile dysfunction at one point in their lives.
Not all men who suffer from performance anxiety have ED. However, men with sexual performance anxiety can develop ED due to the constant stress caused by worrying about sexual activity.
The stress hormones could narrow the blood vessels of the penis, causing them to limit their ability to get an erection fully. In this case, what was once all in the mind (performance anxiety) has manifested itself physically (ED).
Common Causes of Performance Anxiety and Erection Issues
There are psychological factors at play that lead to sexual performance anxiety among men. Much of it stems from their inability to meet the expectations they have set for themselves.
If you are into pornography, you have the highest chance of developing sexual anxiety disorders. You compare what you see in adult films and expectations to real-life experiences, which triggers feelings of disappointment and inadequacy.
For example, your penis is not as big or takes less time to ejaculate than the men in the adult videos you have seen. Or you do not find your partner as physically attractive as the ones in the adult films.
The often unrealistic portrait adult films paint about sex has tainted your view of it in reality, often leading to sexual performance anxiety. You begin questioning your ability to satisfy your partner in bed, or your partner does not compare to the people in the films you have seen. As a result, you find it very difficult to get an erection.
Unlike performance anxiety, the cause of ED is physical. Due to the narrow blood vessels preventing blood from flowing through your penis, you find it extremely hard to get an erection that is good enough for sex.
There are many causes of the fatty deposits in the blood vessels. Below are some of the more popular ones:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Nerve damage
Therefore, even if they want to get erect, it’s physically difficult for them due to the lack of blood flowing to the penis.
Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Anxiety When Feeling Stressed or Nervous
As mentioned, sexual performance anxiety is triggered by psychological factors, while erectile dysfunction is the physical response of the body when its penis is not receiving any blood. This distinction between the two, therefore, means they require different treatment.
To begin, however, you must talk to your doctor to determine if you are suffering from either or both. From here, you can get the right professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding your erectile problems.
To give you an idea of what to expect when diagnosed with sexual performance anxiety, below are some of its common treatments.
- Talk to a sex therapist: Through sessions with sex therapy, you will be able to work through your body image and self-esteem issues and build other health improvements such as reducing your alcohol intake. These help you overcome the mental health conditions causing your ED and gain more control over your erection.
- Communicate with your partner correctly: From your therapy sessions, you will also learn communication techniques that you can apply in your sex life. The key here is to be open with your partner about your intimate feelings so they are not felt left out when you cannot get an erection.
- Build intimacy without the sex: If the thought of sex pressures you, you can still find ways to sync with your partner. You can engage in sensual activities like taking a warm bath together or giving each other body massages.
For people with erectile dysfunction, methods to curb sexual performance anxiety may not work here because the problem stems from the lack of blood flow or other physiological root causes. In this case, it’s recommended to receive a diagnosis from an erectile dysfunction professional to understand how to safely increase blood flow on their penis.
Anxiety Reduction Techniques to Improve Sex Life
As seen above, sexual performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction have different causes and require different treatment. At the same, many men confuse one for the other because they share a root cause: stress.
Since both disorders disable men from achieving an erection, they experience a tremendous amount of stress as a result. The stress can lead to high blood pressure, which adds a lot of pressure to your artery walls. Constant pressure then could lead to blockage in the artery and restrict the blood flow to the penis.
Aside from the stress, having ED increases the risk of depression among men by 192% according to The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
To prevent this from happening, you need to learn stress management. For example, developing an exercise program in line with your fitness level decreases the adverse effects of stress. It also releases endorphins, known as the feel-good neurotransmitters of the brain.
Another way to combat stress is to engage in meditation and relaxation techniques. You can perform these tasks while you are in deep stress to help you relax and refocus.
Applying different stress management techniques allows you to treat the anxiety disorder causing your sexual performance anxiety. They also boost your heart health, allowing the proper amount of blood to flow all over your body.
Consult an ED Specialist for a Customized Treatment
Ultimately, knowing the difference between ED and sexual performance anxiety allows you to get suitable treatment options. It’s one thing to confuse anxiety-induced ED for ED caused by lack of blood flow to the penis. It’s another to take the wrong treatment because you didn’t talk to your doctor.
That said, consulting your physician will help give you the right diagnosis and provide medical advice appropriate to your condition.
If you’re in need of erectile dysfunction treatment or another sexual dysfunction, call the team at Precise Men’s Medical Center in Cleveland now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff. We are one of Ohio’s leading men’s clinics providing ED therapy, PE therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, hormone therapy, and much more to support men’s sexual health.