How a Therapist Can Help Couples Navigate Sexual Performance Anxiety

Sexual performance anxiety can take a toll on relationships, particularly when it comes to intimacy. 


In such cases, couples often find solace in seeking the support of a therapist. A skilled therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for partners to explore their anxieties, understand the underlying causes, and develop effective coping strategies. 


By addressing the psychological, emotional, and communication aspects of sexual performance anxiety, therapists can play a vital role in helping couples overcome their challenges and enhance their intimate connection. 

What is Sexual Performance Anxiety?


Sexual performance anxiety (SPA) refers to the fear, stress, or worry experienced by individuals regarding their performance or ability to satisfy their partner during sexual activities.


Those experiencing sexual performance anxiety often feel significant pressure to perform perfectly, leading to heightened self-consciousness and a preoccupation with potential negative outcomes such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or difficulty reaching orgasm. 


In the realm of intimate relationships, performance anxiety can cast a shadow on the most passionate encounters, leaving couples feeling disconnected and frustrated. 


By offering a unique blend of expertise, guidance, and compassionate support, these therapists play a pivotal role in helping couples navigate the complex terrain of sexual performance anxiety, rekindling the flames of intimacy and fostering a renewed sense of confidence and fulfilment. 


In this article, we will explore how a personal sex therapist can be a guiding light for couples seeking to conquer performance anxiety and reignite their passion.


Is it Common?


Sexual performance anxiety is an incredibly common problem that can affect anyone


Based on a study conducted in 2020, between 9% and 25% of men experience SPA, which can lead to premature ejaculation and psychogenic erectile dysfunction (ED). Among women, SPA affects approximately 6% to 16% and significantly hinders sexual desire




Symptoms of sexual performance anxiety can vary from person to person, but they often involve psychological, emotional, and physical manifestations. This includes:


  • Having little/no interest in engaging in sexual activities.
  • Premature ejaculation when you have sex. 
  • Being unable to have/sustain an erection.
  • Finding it hard to orgasm during sex.
  • Feeling self-conscious or ashamed during sexual activities.
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, or shaking.


Common Causes of Sexual Performance Anxiety


Numerous factors contribute to sexual performance anxiety, which can stem from apprehensions or concerns associated with sexual activity. Common causes include:


  • Ageing.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Recovery from an illness/surgery.
  • Alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Illegal drugs and some prescription medicines.
  • Previous negative sexual experiences/trauma.
  • Lack of sexual experience.
  • Self-esteem issues.
  • Over-consuming pornographic content.
  • Feeling as if you are observing or standing outside of yourself.


How Can a Sex Therapist Help?


A sex therapist plays a crucial role in assisting individuals in navigating and addressing sexual performance anxiety. 


Through expertise and specialised training, sex therapists provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for clients to discuss their concerns and fears related to sexual performance. 


Sex therapists employ various therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness exercises, and communication skills training, to help clients understand and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to anxiety. 


Sex therapists also work collaboratively with clients to explore and address any underlying psychological, relational, or physiological factors that may be contributing to the anxiety. 


By guiding clients through tailored interventions and strategies, sex therapists help individuals build confidence, improve sexual self-esteem, and develop healthier attitudes and behaviours towards sex. 


Ultimately, the goal is to enhance overall well-being and enjoyment while alleviating the distress caused by this issue.


Lena Fenton Counselling 

If you’re experiencing difficulties in your sexual life, Lena Fenton, a psychosexual therapist, provides psychosexual counselling that can assist you in navigating and resolving the concerns outlined in this article. For more information, fill out the form or call us on 07721 633 521. Follow our Instagram to stay up to date.