The link between male sex performance (MSPA) and panic attacks
It is quite normal to sometimes feel anxious before sex. However, if your nerves are at such a high level that you cannot have or enjoy sex, it can mean that you have sexual performance anxiety. MSPA is mostly governed by stress and anxiety, including issues such as low self-esteem, and a lack of self-confidence. The higher your levels of anxiety, the more prone you will be to other symptoms of stress, such as stomach pain, nausea, muscle tension, and the most distressing of all – unexpected panic attacks.
The symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Chest pains that give you the idea that you might be having a heart attack.
- Shaking and tingling sensations in parts of the body.
- Difficulty catching your breath.
- Feeling faint, light-headed and dizzy.
These symptoms, which happen without any warning, can be scary - and you could end up being taken to the ER.
What can you do if you have a panic attack during sex?
Research has indicated that a panic attack during sex is not an everyday occurrence. However, studies have shown that a panic attack can happen during a sexual encounter. The first thing to do is to stop the intimacy and step back. Although you may be shaking and trembling, explain to your partner that there is nothing wrong. Make it clear that it is a panic attack caused by anxiety, and that it can happen anytime, mostly without any warning.
Your partner may at first find it difficult to understand what is happening, but once you have explained that it is nobody’s fault, should begin to calm down. If your relationship is strong, and a panic attack during intimacy has never happened before, it would be a good time to have a discussion on how to prevent it happening again.
Impact on MSPA
Unfortunately, if you suffer from sexual performance anxiety, an occurrence like a panic attack during sex, will only add fuel to the fire. The only treatment to prevent panic attacks, is the same as treatment to alleviate the symptoms of a generalised anxiety disorder. It is more than likely the anxiety disorder that is the root cause of panic attacks, which impact the existing MSPA.
Should the MSPA degenerate into a serious erectile dysfunction (ED) a visit to the doctor needs to be scheduled. With the ED condition uppermost in mind, the doctor will first do a physical examination and possibly some blood-work to see if there is a physical issue or medical reason causing the ED. If all is well physically, the doctor may conclude that it is probably a symptom of the performance anxiety, in conjunction with a generalised anxiety disorder, causing the problem. In other words, a psychological or mental health issue, which requires a different type of treatment to that of a physical condition.
Your doctor might also suggest that you consult a therapist who will able to help you with stress and anxiety, and will also help to eliminate the fear – and risk – of another panic attack.
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