What you need to know:

If you’re being chased by a tiger, is that the best time to have an erection?
Bodies are smart. I do not claim to understand the intricacies of evolution, however, if I was to design a human from scratch I would include in the recipe : ‘when not safe, please release a chemical that will make human hyper alert to surroundings, turn off pleasure - and all bodily functions associated with pleasure’

The chemical our actual human bodies produce when we feel ‘not safe’ or ‘stressed’ is adrenaline. Adrenaline is very helpful when we are in a tiger-chasing situation. We need razor sharp focus, energy, fight or flight mindset and response. However, it also tells our bodies not to feel pleasure or create erections. So in a sexual situation, it’s not the best ingredient to add for the best time.

The problem though is that there is possibly nothing as stress provoking as wondering if you are going to get an erection. This situation is so common that we have a term for it: ‘performance anxiety’. I mean, the fact that an erection is referred to as ‘performance’ is stress producing in itself!

I have seen clients feel more pleasure, more enjoyment and yes, more physical response, when they move their focus onto two simple but powerful questions before sex or pumping:

“Do I feel stressed or unsafe right now?”

“What could I do to feel more safe and relaxed?”

What to do next:

  • Try these now. Five ways to help move adrenaline out of the system in 10 seconds or less:
    - Three deep breaths from the belly and focus on how your body feels as you do this.
    - Shake out your hands, roll your shoulders back, adjust your posture so you are sitting or standing strong.
    - Think about ‘softening’ your head, eyes, jaw. Imagine you are taking off a helmet of tension.
    - Look around your environment, what small tweaks could help you feel more safe? It might be closing a door for more privacy, picking clothes off the floor and putting them away so your surroundings are clean, clearing papers off your desk that remind you of work.
    - Massage your hands or temples of your head. Touch from yourself or on/from a partner releases oxytocin, this hormone is all about switching pleasure on, the opposite of adrenaline.

  • If you’ve got 20-30 minutes, try these worksheets by Dr. Emily Nagoski. The ‘stress’ and ‘sexy contexts’ ones are particularly good to do with a partner so you can better understand each others different stress triggers.

  • Level 5: if you want to explore the idea of working with stress further, I recommend ‘mindfulness’. This is a meditation-type practice that focuses on non-judgmentally noticing sensations and thoughts. A lot of research has come out in the last decade about how mindfulness can help increase sexual enjoyment as well as help with the many flavours of anxiety and depression. This Australian-based app Smiling Mind is free and introduces you to exercises ranging from 1 minute - 15 minutes.