A guide to female performance anxiety

This post was inspired by a recent evening when I was in bed trying to get in the mood to have sex.

Despite wanting it, I felt anxious at the thought of having to “perform”.

I don’t mean actually to be good in bed. I’ve been with my guy for ages and feel real comfortable with him.

Instead, my worry was around whether I could become aroused (e.g. wet), and instead of relaxing, my brain became more and more focused on what I needed to do.

This resulting in me feeling so anxious I struggled to function instinctively, and instead tried to  “think” my way through sex, resulting in issues becoming aroused.

The awful vicious cycle!

After some thought on the issue, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

This is “performance anxiety”!


Noun (uncountable)

  1. Anxiety or fear about performing in front of an audience; stage fright.
  2. A similar anxiety about the impressiveness of one’s sexual performance.

But it was never something I thought would apply to me.

We NEVER talk about women worrying about their performance.

Isn’t it only blokes not being able to get hard??!

Is there something super wrong with me?

blue red and yellow chalk
Photo by Viktoria Goda on Pexels.com

Well, since then, I realised that many women experience this too, because by focusing so hard on trying to get turned on, you can end up over-thinking to the extreme.

Instead of enjoying sex as an active participant, you end up doing what Dr Lori Brotto refers to as “spectatoring”.

You’re watching yourself have sex, not in the moment, and completely in your own head.

Sex then becomes an intellectual task rather than an enjoyable and sensory experience.

Since researching more about the issue, I found this Bustle article  which really brought to life the impact female performance anxiety (FPA) has on desire.

To demonstrate happens in your brain and body if you experience FPA, I’ve drawn this handy diagram….


  1. FPA begins with anxious thoughts, worries and fears floating around in your head, sometimes triggered by the initiation of sex/foreplay.
  2. This leads to a fear of displeasing your partner- performing badly, looking silly, being judged.
  3. We then feel anxious, which means we trigger a fight or flight response in our brains and our stress hormones actively shut down our libido, meaning it’s harder to get ready for sex or want it in the first place.

FPA impacts then on our ability to have and enjoy sex. All of these worries combine to just keep us in a cycle of feeling more and more stressed out, instead of relaxing and enjoying sex as we should be.

It’s pretty bloody horrible- and because of it, you might find yourself stuck in your own head, paralysed, numb, and getting little pleasure from sex.

How about you- have you experienced FPA?





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