How To Deal With Performance Anxiety And ED In Your Sex Life

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Apr 11, 2024
performance anxiety

There are few things that can dampen the sexual flame between two lovers like a man not being able to maintain his erection. For men, this can cause crippling confidence issues and problems around masculinity. For women, having a boyfriend with performance anxiety can cause frustration. Feelings of unworthiness can surface as they blame themselves and question their level of attractiveness.

Performance anxiety and ED can drive a real wedge between couples. Thankfully it is common and easily overcome.

In this article, I will explain what sexual performance anxiety and ED are. I will explain how they arise. I will give you some practical advice for both men and women on how to overcome the problem.

If you or your boyfriend has performance anxiety or erectile dysfunction, please don’t worry. You can be assured that it is not at all uncommon. It is usually quite easily rectified. Most importantly – please read on!

What is performance anxiety and ED?

When a man is anxious about his ability to please his partner in the bedroom, he has performance anxiety. Men with chronic performance anxiety often go on to develop erectile dysfunction (ED). 

ED differs from just performance anxiety in that a man with ED is unable to get or maintain an erection. Therefore he is unable to engage in proper love making with his partner. Penetration requires the penis to be erect. 

It is important to note that this has absolutely nothing to do with his level of arousal. A man can be feeling very turned on and aroused by his partner but be unable to get or keep an erection.

Reasons for performance anxiety and ED?

Sometimes, there are medical reasons for why a man has ED. 

Often, however, perfectly healthy men can have trouble getting or maintaining an erection. It is in these instances that the ED can be attributed to performance anxiety. 

Expectations and the problem of pornography

We live in a world where there are expectations of all kinds placed upon men and women. In traditional gender roles, men are expected to be strong, secure, and grounded. Men are providers. Women are expected to be petite, dainty, meek, and fragile. Women are the receivers.

At the same time, pornography is rife. According to porn, men are expected to f*ck and f*ck for hours – ‘giving it’ to the woman whilst maintaining a strong, solid erection. Although this is not impossible, it usually requires one to have studied and practiced tantra in depth for quite some time. 

For men who have not spent years of their lives practicing the manipulation of their energy, this expectation can lead to feelings of anxiety in the build-up to sex. Anxiety is a natural response when we are faced with a daunting scenario. In the same way that public speaking and job interviews induce performance anxiety, so does sex.

Stress-related performance anxiety and ED

When we are anxious, our sympathetic nervous system is activated. The sympathetic nervous system is active when we are in fight or flight mode. When it is active, the body releases stress hormones adrenaline, and cortisol. In addition, our blood vessels constrict and less blood can flow to different areas of the body. 

This is why men suffering from sexual performance anxiety can develop ED. When they are stressed about sex, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This restricts blood flow to the penis. It is therefore difficult to get or maintain an erection. Particularly with a new partner whom we are eager to impress, this kind of performance anxiety related ED is not at all unusual.

Once it has happened once or twice, performance anxiety and ED often become a vicious cycle. A man feels anxious because he was unable to get an erection in the past. This leads to more stress and anxiety. This leads to more erectile dysfunction, and so on…

man on the bed in his pajamas looking sad and thinming

The problems associated with performance anxiety and ED

Despite feeling aroused by his woman and really wanting to have sex, a man who is experiencing performance anxiety simply cannot. For both parties, this is a difficult scenario to navigate. 

For new couples, sex, when there is performance anxiety or ED, is awkward and clumsy. There are feelings of embarrassment on both sides. In this world, masculinity is so closely tied to sexuality and – thanks to pornography – the ability to f*ck endlessly for hours. The man is left feeling emasculated and ashamed of his lack of abilities. The woman is confused, disappointed, and disempowered to help.

During the tender early stages of a relationship or dating, there might not be enough emotional rapport to address the problem in conversation. 

Sex requires intimacy but it also helps tremendously in the building of intimacy. 

Sex can be rampant, hot, and steamy f*cking but it can also be a truly deep and spiritual merging of two souls. 


Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.

There is a reason why women are very likely to develop strong feelings for the men that they sleep with. Without sex, the levels of intimacy a relationship can reach are limited. It is difficult to build a healthy and strong relationship without it. For this reason, many new relationships where there is ED do not last long.

In more established couples or inside of a marriage, ED can chip away at the relationship and create distance. 

Societal norms, masculinity, and erectile dysfunction

We live in a world that positions men as the givers. They are the providers, the doers, the bread-winners, and protectors. Therefore no longer being able to ‘keep it up’ or in some cases, not being able to get it up at all, can put a large dent in a man’s confidence. It can lead to problems in other areas of life such as depression and more general anxiety seeping in.

A man who develops ED feels like he has lost part of his masculinity. 

A woman whose long-term boyfriend or husband develops ED is likely to blame herself. She will wonder why he no longer finds her as sexy as he used to. She will question whether or not she is attractive. 

Proper communication about the issue is hard. The woman will not want to make the man feel bad. Simultaneously, she may feel disappointed and unsatisfied. The man will feel ashamed and not good enough. BOTH parties can develop serious issues with their self-esteem and confidence. Tensions can arise due to a lack of physical and emotional intimacy. When there is less intimacy and mutual understanding it is harder to resolve conflicts. 

It is not uncommon to hear someone say that they ‘didn’t have sex for months’ before the end of a relationship. Lack of sex may not have been the actual cause of the breakup. Nevertheless, though, it is often a big contributing factor.

unhappy woman in her pajamas with the man in the background

What to do about performance anxiety and ED inside of a relationship?

Although they might not be eager to admit it, the truth is that most men and women have encountered this at least once before.

If you are a man reading this, you have most likely felt anxious about your sexual performance on one occasion or more. You have also probably failed to get or to maintain your erection at least once.

If you are a woman reading this, you have probably witnessed a previous boyfriend or sexual partner suffer in this way. You are probably familiar with the feelings of confusion and heartache that it can cause if and when it becomes chronic.

Fortunately, there are many things both men and women can do in order to ease performance anxiety and overcome erectile dysfunction.

Advice for men suffering from performance anxiety and ED

Identify if the problem is physical or mental

Check in to see whether or not the loss or absence of an erection is a physical or mental problem. 

A healthy man experiences at least 2 and sometimes 5 erections per night. If this is not the case for you, the problem is physical.

Diet and lifestyle

If it’s physical, ask yourself the question – ‘am I truly healthy’? Poor diet, diabetes, and being overweight are the main physical causes of ED. Improve your diet. Cut out meats, fast foods, smoking, and alcohol. And sometimes doing a complete fast is recommended to get results.

Sex/heart connection

If you have ruled out a physical cause, you might want to look into the communication between your sexual organs and your heart/emotions. The body is infinitely wise. It often gives us signals in the form of physical disturbances when something is not right with our emotions or our spirit. These physical disturbances can become obvious to us before we notice any emotional shift.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I really want to make love right now?
  • Is this woman someone who I actually want to make love with?
  • Am I stressed or worried?

If the answer to either of the first questions is no, the answer is obvious.

If the answer to the third question is yes – you have your solution. You need to work on your stress levels.

Tantric approaches to love making

If you are stressed or worried about your performance in the bedroom, you can take a tantric approach to lovemaking. This involves the practice of non-goal-oriented sex. Here, there is no agenda to have or give an orgasm. Sex can even take place without penetration within this practice. 

Masculine energy is by nature goal oriented. It has an inclination to want to impress and perform. By dropping the goals and the need to perform, we relieve ourselves of the pressure and stress. 

Non-goal oriented sex is a tantric approach to love making. Try dropping out of your head and into the present moment with your partner. Take your time with foreplay and don’t rush. There is no destination – only the present moment which is to be enjoyed

This alone can have a huge effect on taking us out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic, which actually promotes blood flow due to its vasodilatory effect upon blood vessels, therefore assisting with obtaining and maintaining an erection rather than working against it.

Meditation and breathwork

There is plenty of evidence that regular meditation and breathwork positively impact stress. By sitting in silence for 10-15 minutes a day we can reduce anxiety. We can rewire our brains and create new neural pathways. Maintaining a single point of focus lowers our stress response. This makes us less susceptible to feelings of anxiousness in any scenario.

man facing the window doing yoga in lotus position

When to get professional help

If you have tried the methods above and you are still suffering from performance anxiety, you might benefit from the help of a professional tantra teacher or a sex coach.

Premature ejaculation can be a cause of major stress in the bedroom. Fear of premature ejaculation causes performance anxiety. This increases the likelihood of erectile dysfunction. In these cases, I strongly recommend you work with a professional to overcome premature ejaculation and regain your sexual confidence

Advice for women

There is a lot of advice for men on the subject of performance anxiety. There is not so much for women. It can be hard to witness your partner struggling in this way, especially if you love them very much. 

Hopefully, you realize that the problem isn’t you. You are sexy enough and you DO turn him on. 

Even so, when your boyfriend has ED it can leave you feeling powerless.

You don’t want to see him suffer. At the same time, you don’t know what you can do to help. You’re Not the one putting pressure on him. The pressure is coming from within himself. 

The most important thing for you to do in order to support your boyfriend or partner who has performance anxiety is to communicate with him about it. The more an issue like this is swept under the carpet and ignored, the bigger a problem it will become. 

My advice to women is to talk to your man about the methods I outline above. Particularly non-goal oriented sex. Be sensitive when approaching the subject. It is quite likely that your man is fully aware of the problem. He may well just be too ashamed to speak about it. 

If you are thinking about suggesting viagra, I suggest not doing so. This will only cause more feelings of unworthiness. Viagra just masks the problem rather than addressing the root cause. It is unnatural and can cause feelings of numbness and disconnection.

Ultimately, you want to assure your man that he is worthy and that he has nothing to fear. Drop all words and language related to judgment and expectation.

If you ever watched porn together – stop!


Performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction are so common. Yet they are not often talked honestly about within society.

Hopefully, you are now assured that it CAN be overcome.

If you are a man and you want to look further into the subject of erectile dysfunction and how to work through it, I have a free training here. In the training, we will go deeper into the issues surrounding performance anxiety and sexual confidence. When you complete my training you will come out feeling empowered, with the ability to take your sexual performance back into your own hands.

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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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