Sex is supposed to be an enjoyable and intimate experience for couples. However, when your mind is racing a mile a minute, enjoying sex can be difficult. Overthinking and stress can lead to performance anxiety, and that can prevent you from getting an erection in the first place.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can strain your relationship and ruin your sex life. So how does overthinking lead to ED, and what can you do to prevent it?
Overthinking Vs. Being Thoughtful
Before talking about erectile dysfunction, we need to define what overthinking is since some people might mistake it for being thoughtful. Overthinking is when you can’t shut your mind off. You go through every scenario that could go wrong, create different what-if situations in your head, and worry about them all day. This overthinking stems from fear and anxiety, and it is not helpful. It can cause you to lose sleep and have difficulty performing sexually, even in men who would typically have no issues holding an erection.
On the other hand, being thoughtful is to think through what you’re doing. It’s when you’re being considerate and not acting impulsively. There is a fine line between overthinking and being thoughtful. If fear, emotion, and worry drive your thoughts, it’s overthinking. If you feel calm and collected while these thoughts run through your head, and there is no pressure, then it’s just you being thoughtful.
Reasons for Overthinking
The primary cause of overthinking is insecurity. Constant worrying and negative thoughts are also the underlying causes of performance anxiety.
Thoughts troubling your mind include your body image, penis size, and worry about whether you will satisfy your partner. The effects of overthinking are not limited to bedroom-specific thoughts. External stresses like general relationship issues, financial problems, and work matters can also add to these thoughts and worsen the situation.
How Overthinking Leads to Erectile Dysfunction
It’s a common misconception that ED only impacts senior men. In reality, erectile dysfunction is one of the five health issues in men that doesn’t just affect older guys. ED can affect men at any stage of their lives, especially when it is brought on by anxiety and overthinking.
Getting an erection is an involuntary physiological response governed by urges and feelings. You disrupt this response when you start monitoring it. By overthinking about your erection and sexual performance, you create a feedback loop that ruins everything. You interrupt the involuntary mechanisms for gaining and maintaining an erection and become more stressed.
Stress and Erectile Dysfunction
According to studies, psychological reasons such as stress and performance anxiety are among the most common causes of ED, affecting about 90% of young men. When you are stressed and think you can’t meet your partner’s expectations, you can feel inadequate and unworthy. This inadequacy will have physical symptoms like erectile dysfunction.
Mental health conditions like stress can also affect your brain and how it signals your body. Stress will interrupt the messages your brain sends to your penis to increase blood flow and keep you from gaining an erection.
The Vicious Cycle of Overthinking, Stress, and ED
The worst thing about overthinking is that it seems uncontrollable. When you overthink about getting an erection, you start monitoring yourself and become stressed. With increased stress, you’re unable to achieve an erection. After the first or second time that you struggle with achieving or holding an erection, you’ll likely worry about the issue even more, creating a vicious stress-induced cycle.
How to Manage Overthinking and ED
The advice most people give to overthinking is: Just stop and don’t overthink it. This advice is useless to those who constantly worry. Overthinking in itself is an unconscious process. If someone tells you to stop overthinking, they will only direct your attention more toward the problem or make you feel like something is wrong with you.
Apart from that, there are ways to avoid overthinking and boost your performance. Here are some of them.
Avoid the Cycle of Overthinking and Stress
It’s normal to have an underwhelming sexual experience from time to time. You might have difficulty gaining an erection due to the general stressors from work and life. However, this doesn’t mean that every intimate moment from then on will be like that.
It is essential to acknowledge that this is a normal part of life at any age, and there is nothing wrong with you if you sometimes struggle. Giving yourself this kind of acceptance can help you avoid the vicious cycle of overthinking and stress that leads to further disappointment.
Shift Your Focus to the Sensations
Overthinking can also happen during intercourse. You might start worrying about how your partner feels or how they perceive you, causing you to struggle to maintain an erection in the middle of intimacy.
Try not to let your mind wander during sex. Instead, focus on the different sensations you’re feeling at the moment. Pay attention to what your eyes can see and what your hands can touch. You can enhance the sensory feelings by lighting a scented candle or playing music. Staying focused on the task will help you avoid those negative thoughts.
Exercising is not only good for your physical health. It can destress your mind and calm your racing thoughts, too. Studies show that regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of ED and help you enjoy better sex life.
Find an activity you enjoy doing so you can stick with it. Try running, hiking, hitting the gym, or just walking. If you want to improve your performance, you can also try kegel exercises.
Use a Penis Sleeve
Some men turn to medications and surgical options to battle ED. However, there is a non-invasive and non-surgical solution for dealing with ED, and that is penis sleeves.
Realistic penis sleeves made of skin-safe silicone go over the penis to add length and girth to increase pleasure for you and your partner. These prosthetics can ensure your partner is satisfied and help ease the worry in your mind.
Try Other Techniques to Calm Your Mind
You can also use various techniques to stop overthinking and avoid ED. Relaxation techniques like guided meditation and yoga are efficient tools for calming a restless mind. You can also try improving your diet to see how it affects your mental health.
It’s also helpful to talk to your partner about your thoughts. Open communication will reduce your worries. Plus, your partner can help you find solutions to overcome your stress. ED doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.
See a Doctor
Have you tried everything but still suffer from ED and overthinking? Then it may be time to visit a doctor just to make sure there are no underlying conditions contributing to your ED.
A doctor uses a step-by-step guide to diagnosing and treating mental illness. They will ask about your symptoms and perform physical examinations and blood tests. These diagnostic tools will help them identify the root of your issue and recommend the best course of treatment.
Calm Your Mind to Enhance Your Sex Life
Erectile dysfunction can have many reasons, and overthinking is one of them. Use the above tips to relax your mind and control your racing thoughts. A calmer mind allows you to be present in the moment and enjoy sex like never before. So start taking better care of your mind!