I recently posted about realising I have female performance anxiety (FPA).
It was never something I thought would apply to me.
Isn’t it only blokes not being able to get hard??!
However, since researching more about the issue, I found this Bustle article which really brought to life the impact FPA has on desire.
Read on to find out how….
To demonstrate happens in your brain and body if you experience FPA, I’ve drawn this handy diagram….
- FPA begins with anxious thoughts, worries and fears floating around in your head, sometimes triggered by the initiation of sex/foreplay.
- This leads to a fear of displeasing your partner- performing badly, looking silly, being judged.
- 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.
It’s pretty bloody horrible- you’re stuck in your own head, paralysed, numb, and can’t enjoy sex at all.
For me, it’s like being a rabbit caught in headlights. Because I’d worried a few times about getting turned on during sex, then EVERYTIME I started worrying about worrying and then I was stuck in a pattern of initiation-worry-self-fulfilling prophecy.
Annoyingly, FPA can become a vicious cycle where initiation of sex triggers performance worries, so sex ultimately becomes associated with panic/anxiety, arousal isn’t possible or great, and then (if you manage to have) sex isn’t the best. This means FPA increases around future sexual encounters as we get stuck into a negative feedback loop.
Because of this, it seems like FPA can also be a cause of your sex drive.
In the article, Dr Emily Morse says:
Now, let’s take a look at some of the mental and emotional things that happen to a woman when she is experiencing performance anxiety. “It can be seen in a woman feeling disinterested in sex altogether — why would anyone want to regularly partake in an activity in which they feel consistently inadequate? Many women withdraw and make excuses to avoid having sex to avoid these anxious feelings and perhaps convince herself that she just ‘isn’t that sexual of a person.’ Maybe she would be if the priority was on her pleasure versus her performance.”
This really blew my mind! I thought that was only impacting me occasionally in the moment, not impacting my overall sex drive. But now I’m in a bit of a spiral where even him touching me makes me worry that I can’t have sex- I’ve associated sex with panic.
So it’s no surprise you don’t want sex if it causes panic, discomfort, and generally isn’t pleasurable/stress relieving!
So, how to get over FPA?
They recommend the usual- touching yourself, self-care, speaking to someone, and initiating sex. I found that helps too!.
Also, anything to decrease your general anxiety is helpful.
I also found that to stop worrying about worrying, it can be helpful to accept the worry- embrace it, validate yourself that it’s OK to worry about this, and then keep breathing through the worry and using all of the tips and techniques to stay present I’ve provided here.
If this is you, ask yourself- what do I need to do to break this cycle?
I’d love to know if you’ve ever experienced FPA and what you do to soothe yourself below.