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‘Do I have too much anxiety to have sex?’

‘Do I have too much anxiety to have sex?’

Devin had a stroke at age 22, after catching a rare virus that caused his internal organs to shut down. Six years later, he’s recovered and has met the love of his life, but gets terrible headaches each time he tries to have sex with his girlfriend. Now he’s worried he might still be too unhealthy to maintain a sexual relationship. Can anything be done to alleviate his fears?

My Advice:

Devin, given your medical history I can understand why you might be nervous about the headaches you’re experiencing. But, first, let me reassure you that I don’t believe your headaches are related to your past stroke. I also don’t see any medical reason you should abstain from sex.

You’re telling me you’re scared that if you have sex with your girlfriend, this will result in more physical trauma. I think it’s that fear and anxiety that are causing your headaches and, at the same time, making it more difficult to get and keep an erection. Anxiety naturally shunts blood away from the extremities … and, in this case, that includes your penis. So what we need to do is find a way to reduce your anxiety and just relax about sex.

If this really is the girl of your dreams, you owe it to her to be as candid as possible about what’s going on for you. Your girlfriend probably doesn’t understand why you act weird in front of her; she most likely doesn’t even realize that you get headaches. If you really want your relationship with her to last and grow, you need to communicate everything you’re feeling, and trust that she’ll accept your fears and love you anyway.

I realize it’s not easy to start these kinds of conversations, but once you do, I think you’ll find a great relief in getting things out on the table. She’ll probably be relieved too…and be impressed at your courage for bringing it up in the first place.

Devin, I think you’re on the right track. I suspect the solution to your problem is communication and relaxation. But if you are still getting headaches when you are sexually aroused, even after things are clear and relaxed between you and your girlfriend, then you should see your doctor. Pay attention to the headaches: do you also get them when you exert yourself physically? If your headaches seem to occur whenever your blood pressure rises (for any reason) then you should have that checked out.

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