Performance anxiety is a rather common problem (occurring more in men than in women) where the affected individual has anxiety about how well he/she can engage in sexual activity. The debilitating fear of not performing sexually has many consequences: avoidance of sexual encounters, lowered self-esteem, relationship discord and sexual dysfunction.

Once you’ve suffered through one instance of this type of anxiety, chances are that it will escalate because now it’s something that you’ll worry about happening again. This type of anxiety creates some physical conditions that then make things even more difficult. Anytime you become anxious about anything, your body releases chemical intermediaries into the bloodstream. These are called catecholamines and they include hormones like dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline. These hormones set off and automatic “fight-flght-or-freeze” response.

This then causes certain “less important” blood vessels to shrink, so that the blood flow to areas that are crucial to immediate survival (the heart, lungs and skeletal muscles) remain stable.

It helps that you know the biology behind what happens emotionally so that you can understand that what you are undergoing is a totally normal (and healthy) reflex that kicks in for survival. Obviously you realize that it’s a problem because it’s occurring at the wrong time.

So what can you do to combat performance anxiety? Well, first of all, the more you worry about combating it, the more you give power to the anxiety. So, what you need to do is concentrate on taking the pressure off of yourself. And, above all, remember there are two of you involved in this situation. Take the time to think of your partner and appreciate what you have. If you concentrate more on her/him and less on yourself, your nervousness is likely to fade away.

Another important fact to keep in mind is that this type of anxiety affects almost everyone at some time or another. It may be just one time or it could be often and in certain situations. But most people have gone through it at least once in their lives. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not a freak of nature and you are definitely not alone. So, try to stay positive and and know that your body is working the way it’s supposed to.

It’s also important to communicate with your significant other and discuss the situation. No need to go overboard but starting to talk about it can actually get you going on a sexual tangent that might bring you back into the right frame of mind.

Remember that when it comes down to it, the power of positive thinking can help you accomplish anything, and if you believe that you will have great sexual relationships, you will. Once you’ve mastered overcoming this anxiety, you will have the confidence to turn your self-fulfilling prophecy into something positive.

The above information about performance anxiety does not substitute medical advice given by a health professional.