Imagine navigating the mating dance and having the person of your dreams in bed. You suddenly get imposter syndrome or performance anxiety. Your heart races in your chest, but otherwise, there's no blood flow or signs of life where you need it the most.
This is a problem that messes with your psyche and can hurt your romantic relationships.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) has a close to 50% prevalence for Canadian men. Knowing you're not alone may or may not make you feel better.
Understanding the link between anxiety and sex can help you make changes. In this article, we'll discuss the following:
Here are some points you should learn about how anxiety and sex go hand in hand.
The answer to this question is a resounding "yes." Your brain is the most important sex organ that you have. Anxiety sends your brain into a fear-based overdrive. This makes it less effective and hampers your ability to enjoy sex and sexual feelings.
About 3 million people in Canada have an anxiety disorder. People get it in varying degrees. Some are only triggered by anxiety attacks in social situations or in instances that trigger past traumas.
So how does this play out in a man's sex life?
A man dealing with anxiety problems will likely see these issues manifest in the bedroom as well. Many men who live with anxiety also deal with sexual dysfunction as a byproduct. Your nerves will get the best of you when it matters the most.
Erectile dysfunction is one of the biggest anxiety-induced problems that men deal with. When it's a physical issue, it is usually related to heart problems, high cholesterol, or poor circulation.
Many healthy men still deal with poor erections or the ability to get an erection when they need to. Anxiety causes stress and mental fog that can hamper your ability to get or maintain an erection.
Getting an erection starts with your ability to relax into the moment. A heightened stress response ruins your focus, and the accelerated heart rate obstructs the flow of blood to your penis. A distracted mind will quickly cause you to lose an erection.
The heightened stress response can also lead to premature ejaculation. About 30% of men in Canada deal with premature ejaculation. This can be equally embarrassing and can lead to self-esteem issues.
Anxiety and sexual dysfunction create a chicken-and-egg situation after a while. The anxiety you feel leads to sexual dysfunction. Living a sex life filled with dysfunction will lead to further anxiety.
Your anxiety can become compounded to the point that you start avoiding sex and relationships altogether.
Sex avoidance and anxiety go hand in hand for many men. It's not popular to talk about since men are held to certain standards of sexuality and performance. Men who repeatedly get performance anxiety or are stuck in their heads during sex may begin to avoid sex altogether.
Sexual activity for today's adult men 18 to 24 is already declining. About 33% of men had no sex in the past year. It's due to a variety of factors, including changes in social activities, busy work schedules, and high internet use. Adding anxiety to the mix of other reasons can put a damper on anyone's sex life.
The reverse is also true in some cases. High sex drive and anxiety can also combine to create sex addictions—some people with anxiety process it in a way that makes them erratic and hyper-sexual.
Sex and anxiety disorder might also cause someone to participate in high-risk sex or fall into substance abuse or gambling addiction.
Anxiety doesn't just affect the mind – it can also take a toll on your body. About 6 million Canadians live with chronic pain. It often happens due to wear and tear or injury.
Many instances of chronic pain are due to patterns of tension created by stress and anxiety. Anxiety keeps you in a state of fight or flight. This unconsciously causes your body to tense up.
Chronic tension from anxiety leads to chronic pain in the neck, back, shoulders, head, and other areas.
Sexual blockages will also lead to imbalances in your life.
Does sex help depression and anxiety?
When you have sex, your brain produces chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals improve your mood and produce feelings of euphoria.
Sex also causes decreases in the cortisol stress hormone. This alone will ease pain and reduce the amount of tension that you carry around.
Having sex for stress and anxiety can create healthy associations and habits. Adding plenty of good sex to your weeks can have you back in the office on Monday, relaxed and ready to go.
So does this mean that sex cures depression and anxiety? Not quite.
Everyone's cases are different. You should always check with a medical professional to get to the bottom of both your anxiety and sexual dysfunction.
Once you recognize you have anxiety, you need to build your lifestyle around techniques that protect your erection for years to come. The golden rule with this issue is finding sexual partners that you feel the most comfortable with.
Form loving sexual relationships with people that you can confide in and open up to. Being able to talk through it can lift a weight from your shoulders and undo some psychological damage you've suffered.
You should also consider talking to a therapist. They'll walk you through the root of your anxiety issues. You'll come away with strategies that will help you overcome your sexual dysfunction.
Does sex relieve stress and anxiety?
When you start overcoming hangups of sex for anxiety and depression, you'll have an overall sense of calm that carries over. Since social anxiety and sex often go hand in hand, you'll find yourself more likely to form social relationships.
Study exercises that help you calm yourself and build sexual energy in your body. Taoist sexual practices and books like "The Way of the Superior Man" can help you ground your energy and move in your sexual essence.
Now that you understand the core of the issue, it's time to build a better, stronger sexual self. This happens by making yourself better outside of the bedroom.
Physical fitness is an excellent tool for becoming the sexual master that you'd like to be. Build your body tough and durable with muscle through weight training and resistance-based callisthenics.
Strength training also helps you to build testosterone and regulate your hormone levels.
Make sure that you're also watching what you eat each day. Fill your plate with lots of leafy green vegetables, beans, and lentils to stimulate more blood flow. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low.
Meditation can also help you enjoy quality sex and anxiety relief. Something as small as 15 minutes a day will teach you to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. You'll rewire your brain one session at a time and will teach yourself to relax and enjoy sex.
If you've had erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or any other problems, you're not alone. Many men with chronic anxiety also experience these and other sexual side effects.
However, fixing your sexual issues and anxiety can help you get your mind right and enjoy the best sex of your life.
Can sex help with anxiety and depression? Great sex boosts positive emotions and can help reduce the hangups that you're having.
However, always look at it like a holistic matter that you'll have to bounce back from, piece by piece.
So what are the main takeaways you should understand?
Understanding the link between anxiety and sex can help men reclaim their libido and performance. Start with the tips above to begin moving past these problems in your life.