It's real, but it doesn't have to last forever.
That's probably because I was like, thirteen.
But when you become an adult with an anxiety disorder, you quickly learn that every aspect of your life is affected by that anxiety, even your sex life.
For a while, I thought I had a whole separate sex anxiety disorder, but then I learned that sexual dysfunction for people with anxiety is really common.
You can have a sex anxiety disorder. Or fear, panic, and disgust when you're actually considering having sex can be a symptom of another condition at play.
If you associate sex with anxiety and wonder why, here are few different conditions and disorders where sex and anxiety are closely linked.
Sexual aversion disorder
If the idea or act of sex itself is causing you extreme anxiety, disgust, fear, or revulsion, don't worry.
You aren't alone.
You may have a sexual aversion disorder.
Sexual aversion is different than a dwindling or changing libido.
If you aren't feeling desire, that's one thing, but if you think of sex and feel like you're going to throw up, that's a sign of something more serious.
There are many different causes for sexual aversion disorder, but most of them involve your interpersonal relationship with your partner.
They include discovering your partner's been cheating, learning your partner is mismanaging money, or other interpersonal problems within your relationship.
Sexual aversion disorder can be treated by therapy and medication, and it should be!
Don't let fear or shame keep you from seeking help so that you can get the healthy and active sex life you deserve.
Sexual intimacy anxiety
People who describe themselves as "sex addicts" more likely suffer from sexual intimacy anxiety.
People with sexual intimacy anxiety often have a hard time committing to just one sexual partner because of deeply-rooted psychological trauma that makes getting close to a romantic partner a very real struggle.
They enjoy the act of sex, but they find the intimacy required to sustain a meaningful romantic relationship next to impossible.
Sufferers are more likely to act out sexually rather than express their fears regarding intimacy.
Therapy and communication are paramount to help people suffering from sexual intimacy anxiety for the bonds they long for.
Panic and anxiety disorders
People with panic or anxiety disorders (an umbrella term that covers everything from generalized anxiety to OCD) often can experience sexual dysfunction.
In people with anxiety, their orgasmic response may be hampered by their own body chemistry.
The sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your "fight or flight" response.
Its little brother, the parasympathetic nervous system, is responsible for your sexual arousal.
So, if your anxiety is high, your sexual response could be limited.
If you're experiencing panic attacks during or after sex, that could be your body reacting to your elevated heart rate.
Having an elevated heart rate is normal during sex, but it's also a normal trigger for a panic attack.
In other words: it's not your partner, it's your anxiety.
There are many ways to manage your anxiety with therapy, meditation, medication or a combination.
Sexual performance anxiety
Men who report sexual dysfunction are often caught in a cycle of anxiety.
In a prior sexual encounter, they may have prematurely ejaculated or been unable to get or maintain an erection.
The memory of that self-perceived sexual embarrassment can inhibit the man from achieving the erection he desires going forward.
This is totally normal and something every man will most likely combat at some stage in his life.
Communication with his partner, time, relaxation, and promoting a healthy perception of masculinity (one where being a man is not reliant upon how hard he can get his penis) will help break this cycle.
Men and women who have been sexually or otherwise abused as children or adults may find sex difficult and anxiety inducing.
There are those of us are who are lucky to have a simple relationship with sex: it's something that feels good that we do with people we trust.
But for abuse survivors, sex can be much more complicated.
Abuse survivors diagnosed with PTSD may find sexual encounters triggering.
There is ZERO reason to feel shame or embarrassment when this crops up.
You're working through something gut-wrenching and awful.
With the support of friends, therapists, and others, you can address your concerns about sex life and find workable plans of action.