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The Heartbreak of Male Performance Anxiety

I get a dozen or so messages a month on this topic. I’ve written about it in numerous postings and spoken about it in several podcasts, but still the email comes.

One of the real bugaboos for anyone, regardless of gender, is living up to our own expectations of sexual performance. So many things can get in the way, literally and figuratively, of fully enjoying ourselves and/or pleasuring our partners.

The arousal stage of our sexual response cycle is particularly vulnerable to a disruption. And when there’s trouble there, there’s no hiding it. A limp dick or a dry pussy can put the kibosh on all festivities that we may have hoped would follow.

However, performance anxiety can strike any of us, regardless of age, and at just about any point in our sexual response cycle. This is a particularly galling when it seems to come out of the blue. And regaining our composure can be more far more difficult than we imagine.

Today we will be focusing on male performance anxiety.  I’ll address female performance anxiety at a later date.

Here’s Bob, he’s 26:
Doc, this has never happened before. But I couldn’t get it up tonight, and this chick was H.O.T. Now I’m not gay at all, but I haven’t had sex in about 3 years because I was locked up…so I masturbated pretty regularly, about 3 or 4 times a week. But I can’t figure out why I was soft… the only thing I can think of is I ate clams tonight and I’ve never had them before. Could it be that or should I get checked out?

It weren’t the clams, darlin’! And I don’t think you need to get “checked out” either…at least not right away. If you could back away from the situation a bit and stop freaking out, I think you’d discover the source of your problem all on your own.

Here’s the thing—while you were out of commission there in the slammer, you relied, as you say, on jerking off. Okay, cool. We all do what we gotta do. Now the first time you try to score after your release…you go soft. This tells me you have a mild case of performance anxiety. We all get that from time to time.

There’s probably nothing wrong with you or your johnson. You just got the jitters first time you tried to get you some after being away, that’s all.

The anticipation of boning this H.O.T. chick—fueled by some predictable self-consciousness; what with just getting out of the big house and all—pulled the plug on your wood. No surprise there, right?

What I don’t want to see happen is for you to replay the incident over and over in your mind’s eye til that’s all you can think about. If you do, this proverbial molehill will become a mountain. You’ll then bring all this anxiety to your next encounter, setting yourself up for even more disappointment. You can see how this shit can snowball? If you interpret every less than satisfying encounter as a failure, your fears will become self-fulfilling. You’ll begin to avoid partnered sex and you’ll develop a full-blown sexual dysfunction. And your self-esteem will take a nosedive, too.

If you’re preoccupied with your performance, it’s less likely that you’ll be fully present during sex with a partner. This pretty much fucks up your sexual responsiveness and any hope for spontaneity. Why not just relax into the whole sex thing and not try to prove your manhood with your pecker?

Then there’s Steve with a slightly different take on this meddlesome problem:

My partner and I have been together for just over 3 years now in a monogamous relationship. I am the top and he the bottom. Our problem is not premature ejaculation on his part, but his inability to have an orgasm at all. No matter what I try and even if he masturbates, sometimes it is impossible to get him to cum. Is this a medical issue? Have you ever heard of this?

Delayed ejaculation is the difficulty one has ejaculating even with a firm erection and sufficient sexual arousal and stimulation. This problem is not uncommon. For most men, delayed ejaculation occurs during partnered sex more frequently than while masturbating. In fact, 85% of men with delayed ejaculation can usually cum by jacking off. However, in partnered sex, the guy may be unable to ejaculate at all, or only after prolonged partnered stimulation. This problem can be very frustrating and cause distress for both partners involved, as you already know.

What causes delayed ejaculation? Well, it could be a number of things. It could be something as simple as performance anxiety, or inadequate stimulation, or there could be neurological damage.

I don’t want to be too reductionist here, but most of us experts believe that the majority of instances of delayed ejaculation aren’t physical in nature, but rather are the product of psychological concerns. Simply put, there’s a difference between the psychosexual response we have when we are alone and the one we experience with a partner. There’s probably nothing wrong with your partner’s unit. It’s all in his head…or his mind, to be more exact. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s got a real bad case of performance anxiety.

When I see this sort of thing in my private practice, I always begin the therapeutic intervention by calling a moratorium on fucking of any kind. This immediately takes the pressure off the couple. From there we begin to rebuild the partnered psychosexual response one step at a time. We begin with sensate focus training (Sensate Focus is a series of specific exercises for couples that encourage each partner to take turns paying increased attention to their own sensations. More about these helpful exercises in the weeks to come.), stress reduction and relaxation exercises. These applications are designed to reduce performance pressure and instead focus on pleasure. The idea is to get them to stay in the moment; absorb the pleasure present without worrying about what is “supposed” to happen.

Finally we address as frankly and openly as possible any fears or anxieties that they may have—as individuals or as a couple. I have the greatest confidence in this method; it succeeds over 90% of the time.

Ok, let’s recap shall we?

Overcoming sexual performance anxiety is dependent on five simple things.

  • First, a guy needs to be attuned to his sexual response cycle — arousal, plateau, orgasmic and resolution phases. He should know what kind of stimulation he needs at each phase to fully enjoy himself and satisfy his partner.
  • Second, the more worried a guy is about a performance issue, the more likely that problem will present itself. A bad experience in the past can often set the stage for its recurrence.
  • Third, don’t be afraid to talk this over with your partner. Withdrawing from your partner or shying away from sex altogether will only increase the likelihood that the problem will persist.
  • Forth, be proactive! Fearing the loss of your sexual prowess or feeling sorry for yourself is counterproductive. Confront the challenge head on. Employ sensate focus training stress reduction techniques and relaxation exercises to help you push past this temporarily impasse and regain your self-confidence.
  • Fifth, free yourself from the mindset that your dick is the center of the universe. Your manhood or your capacity to be a great lover does not reside in your genitals. Expand your sexual repertoire. Remember, pleasure centers abound in your body as well as your partner’s.

Good luck!

IN THE MOOD

Hey Sex Fans!

We came dangerously close to having a fantastic Sex EDGE-U-cation podcast for ya today.  Unfortunately, my scheduled guest had technical difficulties and we had to put off the interview till next week.  Such is life!

In lieu of a podcast, we have some swell Q&A.

Name: Brian
Gender:
Age: 40
Location: Canada
After a guy ejaculates can he have another ejaculation? Like after I cum if I put on a cock ring will it stay hard enough to continue with intercourse and achieve another orgasm? I basically want to cum twice in a row.

Yep, that’s doable.  All depends on your particular refractory period and how turned on you are.  Let’s take a quick look at the male sexual response cycle again, just so we understand what we’re talkin’ about.  Ok?

The sexual response cycle refers to the sequence of physiological changes that occur as we become sexually aroused and move through to afterglow. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution. Both women and men experience these phases of course, although the timing usually is very different for each gender.  In addition, the intensity of the response and the time spent in each phase will vary from person to person and from situation to situation. That’s why I say cuming twice in a row is doable.  But is it gonna happen for you?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, huh?

Ok, Phase 1: Excitement (or the boner stage)

  1. Muscle tension increases.
  2. Heart rate quickens and breathing accelerates.
  3. Our skin may become flushed particularly on our chest and back).
  4. Our nipples may become erect.
  5. Blood flow to the genitals increases, thus the boner.
  6. Our balls swell, our sack tightens, and we may drip precum.  Mmmm, precum!

Phase 2: Plateau (or the strokin’ or pumpin’ stage)

  1. Everything in phase 1 intensifies.
  2. Our balls may pull up into body cavity.
  3. Our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increase.
  4. Our toes curl, face contorts and hands clench.

Phase 3: Orgasm (or the “yabba dabba doo” stage)

  1. Involuntary muscle contractions begin.
  2. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing excelerate.
  3. There’s a rapid intake of oxygen.
  4. Muscles in the feet spasm.
  5. There is a sudden, forceful release of sexual tension.
  6. Rhythmic contractions of the muscles at the base of our cock result in the ejaculation of spunk.
  7. A “sex flush” may appear all over our body.

Phase 4: Resolution (or the “I need a nappy” stage)

  1. During this phase, the body slowly returns to its normal level of functioning, and the parts of your body that swelled and engorged return to their previous size and color.
  2. This phase is marked by a general sense of well-being, enhanced intimacy and, often, fatigue.
  3. Most women are capable of a rapid return to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and may experience multiple orgasms.

Men, on the other hand need recovery time after orgasm, this period is called the refractory period.  This doesn’t have to be the end of sex.  Like you suggest, a cockring may prevent your dick from going soft.  But don’t count on an immediate second ejaculation, even if your dick stays hard. Don’t forget, the duration of the refractory period varies and is situational.  It will also increase as we age.

Name: Ivan
Gender: Male
Age: 33
Location: Spain
I am considering the social usage of Viagra or Cialis to improve sexual performance. Which of the two would you recommend for recreational usage?

I don’t recommend recreational use of prescription drugs, particularly these vascular dilators.  And certainly not when used in conjunction with other non-prescription drugs.  Maybe you ought consider a low-tech solution like a cockring instead.

I hasten to add that I’m not averse to using some drugs recreationally.  But I think that we’d do well to stick to those that are more natural.  The less processing involved and fewer added chemicals the better, in my humble opinion.

Did you know that health officials in the UK and here in the US are investigating reports of blindness among men using Viagra and Cialis?  Why risk that if ya don’t have to.

I’m really concerned with the alarming rise in recreational use of these drugs by younger men, men in their 20’s and 30’s.  And like I said, this is even more troubling when they combine these drugs with ecstasy, cocaine, or crystal meth.  If your young body is having difficulty producing an erection at this tender age, then you need medical attention ASAP.

Besides the risk of blindness, there are several other reasons why you ought not abuse Viagra or a similar drug just so you can have wood that lasts for hours.  Your body will habituate itself to the substance and, in time, you won’t be able to get it up at all without ever increasing doses of these drugs.  This will surely fuck up your cardiovascular system big time.  In fact, you may very well be inducing the very sexual dysfunction the drug is supposed to help.

Consider the person who overuses eye drops or lip balm or any other otherwise innocuous over the counter health and beauty products.  Their bodies stop making the natural substances that these products are intended to assist.  It’s counterproductive and it’s ill advised.  And if this is a problem with relatively harmless over the counter products, you know you are playing with fire when you abuse powerful prescription meds.

Name: Yuri
Gender: male
Age: 20
Location: Russia
I want to make love kisses on my girlfriend’s vagina.  But I never did this.  What can I do?

Love kisses on her vagina, huh? You Russians are so romantique!

I think you are talkin about some good old fashioned cunnilingus, right?  Or as we say here in the US or A — eatin’ out at the Y, munchin’ carpet, muff divin’, pussy lappin’ and what have you.

If your girlfriend is as unfamiliar with gettin’ love kisses on her vagina as you are at givin’ them, you might want to give her a head’s up on what you plan to do.  Ya see some of our women folk are none too keen on the idea.  They have it in their head that their pussy is icky and not for oral consumption.  This is very unfortunate, but it is what it is.  If you think you’re gonna get a lot of resistance from your lady friend, you might start kissing her on the face and neck, then to the tops of her tits, her nipples, and her belly.  This will give her an idea where you’re headin’.  If you’re doin’ this right, hopefully she’ll be so busy enjoying herself she’ll not protest your trip south.

Proceed slowly. Make sure you’re you’re both comfortable. If you’re lying down, you best be on your stomach between her legs so that your string of kisses is as effortless as possible. Have a pillow ready to shove under her hips to raise her a bit if she’s willing to proceed.  If, by the time you get to her pussy, she doesn’t try to stop you, you’re home free.  Basically she is giving you tacit permission to proceed.  Of course you could check in with her and ask if you can continue.  But sometimes, in delicate situations like this, you may be better off keeping the conversation to a minimum.  She might be fine with it if she doesn’t actually have to agree to it.  Women are like that sometimes.

Try scooting her butt to the side of the bed while you kneel on the floor between her legs. This will give you all the access you’ll need.  And hey, don’t go divin’ right in there, for heaven’s sakes.  Take a moment to two to admire the beautiful spectacle before you.  Lordy, lordy ain’t that a sight for sore eyes.

Gently nuzzle, kiss, and lick her inner thighs and the area around her vulva.  With a little luck your gal-pal will be so aroused she’ll begin to guide your head into her snatch.  Lick her outer lips. Run your tongue up and down them. Nibble them gently with your lips. Next, work your tongue in between the outer lips to caress her smaller, thinner inner lips.  Circle her vaginal opening and perhaps dart your tongue inside her cunt.

I hope you know your way around a woman’s genitals, because If you don’t you’ll be bumbling around down there to no great effect.  And, while you may get an “A” for effort, you might very well wreck the moment by being too aggressive on her more sensitive parts.  Her clit is her magic button.  If you don’t know a clit from a hole in your head, do some research before you head south.

Approach her clit very slowly and gently.  Some women enjoy a tongue lashing directly on her clit. Others find direct contact too intense, even uncomfortable. Now is a good time to check in with her.  Ask for direction on how she wants you to proceed.  She may prefer you to circle her clit with your tongue, avoiding direct contact.

If your gal is unfamiliar with this kind of pleasure, she may not  kow to direct you.  If that’s the case, you’re gonna have to ask direct questions like:  Do you want it lighter? Or would you like more pressure? More of this?  Not so much of that?  Soon you will be able to tell on your own by observing her pelvic movements and listening to her moan if you’re doing a good job.  Sometimes the best communication is non-verbal.

While you’re down there, why not employ a couple fingers to spread things apart?  Add a little massage.  Use the tip of your tongue, then the flat of your tongue, then your lips as you move around her vulva.  All three feel a little different and each provide subtly different sensations.  Some chicks love pussy raspberries, you know…

Come up for air from time to time.  Look into here eyes, caress and massage her boobs.  Try slipping a finger or two into her mouth so she can suck them while you’re licking her. Or move into a 69 position and enjoy a little blowjob with you’re eating her out.

You may want to incorporate some ass play too.  Insert a lubed finger into her butt hole.  Just make sure that whatever goes in her ass doesn’t then come in contact with her cunt.  You definitely don’t want to introduce bacteria that can cause a urinary infection.

Good luck ya’ll

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