Men, Women And Sexual Performance Anxiety

Philip Holder Ph.D.
From copyrighted material
Copyright by Philip Holder Ph.D. 1999 – 2017

Sex… one of the most intimate and rewarding experiences that a person can enjoy. It is a primary enforcer and (in most instances) a healthy and natural drive. It is designed by nature to be so to assure the continuation of the species. Many men and women however never fully experience the joy of a fulfilling sex life. The numbers are surprising. In my practice I see many people each year that are unable to have the quality of sexual pleasure they desperately want. This is truly unfortunate.


Sex is a normal and natural desire. Unfortunately, as with many things, we human beings deny rather than accept our nature. Often children are indoctrinated with what is called “waking hypnotic suggestion”. These “waking hypnotic suggestions” often conflict with our natural desires thereby causing internal conflict. For example, often parents (either wittingly or unwittingly) plant within their children the idea that… sex is dirty (“Nice girls don’t do that”. “Boys who want sex are pigs” and so on.). As adults we know rationally and logically that nice girls do like sex and that boys who desire sex are not by virtue of that, pigs. Our conscious mind alone contains the rational and logical thought processes. Feelings, perceptions, and emotions are properties of the subconscious mind. No matter what our conscious mind tells us, it will not change the perceptions created at a subconcious level. Logical and rational thought does little to alter subconscious perception. The only way to facilitate changes at the subconscious level is to speak directly to the subconscious mind without interference from the conscious mind. Hypnosis is a fantastic way to accomplish that.


We live in a very sexualized society. Prime time TV today would have been far to risqué for even late night TV only a few years ago. It is virtually impossible to go to a movie, look through a magazine, or watch a TV program without seeing either blatant sexual references or at least sexual innuendo. You would think that this would give people a source of permission to enjoy sex. In fact, often just the opposite occurs. The shows and movies often create an unrealistic perception of sex that many people feel unequipped to live up to. This often leads to “Performance Anxiety”.

The general perception seems to be that performance anxiety effects mostly men. Although there are probably a greater number of men visibly effected by performance anxiety ,my finding has been that the numbers are not so far apart between men and women. It is simply more noticeable with men (e.g.: Performance anxiety can make it difficult or impossible for a man to attain an erection thereby preventing lovemaking. Women obviously do not have this specific problem). The problem still exists however to the extent that a woman may not achieve the level of enjoyment from sex that she would like to or perhaps she may be unable to achieve orgasm.


The first step in addressing sexual issues should always be to rule in, or to rule out, a medical pathology. The person experiencing sexual problems might be well served to see an endocrinologist, a urologist or a gynecologist.
If there is no medical pathology other sources can be explored.

In my practice I find that in the absence of a medical issue, performance anxiety is most commonly (though not always) what prevents people from enjoying sex to the fullest. The person may either be worrying about what he or she did or didn’t do a moment ago or about what will be happening within the next few moments instead of enjoying what is happening in the here and now. Such thoughts are distractions. They can result in lovemaking becoming more of a job than a pleasure. Making love should in fact be carefree adult playtime, not an assignment.

It is a time to share special moments of intimacy, not a time to perform as if in a circus act. People frequently take lovemaking far too seriously. The ability to “Be In the Moment” is essential. Worry about whether a person will “live up to their partner’s expectations” (or live up to some image of the perfect lover that they have from TV or movies) will take a person out of the moment. This can sabotage the opportunity for a wonderful sexual experience. As well, thinking ahead to the orgasm or WONDERING whether or not you will find reassurance or rejection at the end of the lovemaking will pull a person out of the moment thereby decreasing enjoyment. The moment is everything in lovemaking.

Often, the only thing needed to enable a person to have a better sex life is to provide them with the tools to stay in, and enjoy the moment. Orgasm is only one part of the sexual experience. It is equally important to enjoy the moments of touch, of warmth, and of play. Each moment only arrives once. If you miss it because you were focusing on the moments past, or due to anticipation of moments not yet arrived, you will miss the beauty of the here and now. If you enjoy each moment as a separate and wonderful element of the experience, you can open the doors to a wonderful sex life.

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