Performance anxiety isn't limited to the bedroom, and sex-based nerves don't only apply to partnered play. When you consider the intricate physiological, emotional and psychological dance required to make everything feel just right, it makes sense that anxiety can affect a solo session, which is why sperm donation might have you freezing up, too.
So, how can guys who want to donate sperm—or who have to produce a sample for testing—get past the natural anxiety of having to do it in a clinical setting?
Read on to find out what guys can expect at the sperm-donation clinic and to discover some general tips for overcoming this particular, and peculiar, type of performance anxiety. But first, let's take a closer look at anxiety in general and how it can affect a man's ability to achieve an erection and ejaculate.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is such a common phrase in today's vocabulary that we can forget what the condition means at its most serious. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as a condition having to do with intrusive thoughts, worry and tension that can result in physiological changes such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Keep in mind that to achieve an erection, numerous systems in the man's body must work in concert: blood vessels, nervous system, emotions, muscles and hormones. Now think about the last time you were feeling anxious. It likely affected these same systems, right?
Dealing with the sperm bank
While sperm banks try their best to make what can be an uncomfortable situation as painless as possible, the rooms where you "perform" are almost universally bleak, depressing places. They're lit with too-bright fluorescent lights, they feature cold signage that instructs you to wash your hands and genitals beforehand, and they have a desultory stack of dated and worn-out middlebrow porn to help you "produce."
Imagine masturbating in your accountant's office while perusing your dad's collection of 1980s Playboys while a receptionist answers the phone just outside—the same receptionist waiting to collect your sample. Are you ready to sign up?
Even if we're exaggerating a bit, the environment is such that maybe a little performance anxiety is to be expected, and that's without the added stress and emotional implications of why you might be asked for a sperm sample in the first place. But how can you combat this anxiety? We have some tips.
Medical science has come a long way toward understanding the mind-body connection. Humans aren't just squishy machines producing various fluids on demand; it takes a careful balance of factors to make a successful climax. Many clinics have accepted that their facilities don't fit in well with this delicate interplay and have procedures that allow men to produce their sample at home as long as they can deliver it within 30 minutes.
The collection device known as a fertility condom allows you to produce your sperm sample while having sex with your partner. Note that this is not possible with a standard condom—spermicides are not conducive to a procedure that requires living sperm—so don't roll up to the clinic with a used Trojan after a sexual encounter.
Provide your own entertainment
If you must go to the clinic, remember the tiny computer you carry with you everywhere you go. Why not load up some of your favorite porn on your phone? The tattered old magazines the sperm bank provides might work for you, but why take any chances when you don't have to?
Shift your focus
Psychologists explain that anxiety is a future- and outward-oriented thought process. Often, men experience sexual performance anxiety due to worry over what might happen in some imagined future. Relaxation and centering exercises such as meditation and deep breathing can help tremendously toward refocusing your attention on the here and now.
What to remember
Donating sperm in a clinical setting probably won't be easy for you, but no one in the clinic cares what you're doing in there. It's kind of what they do; they're used to it.
If you have to go in to donate, remember you're not the first guy to pass through their doors for this purpose, and probably not even the first that day. The staff really doesn't care as long as you follow the procedures.
The best you can do is lock the door, put on your headphones, look at whatever turns you on and try to relax in the moment.
And, please, make sure the outside of the sample receptacle is clean before you hand it in.