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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!

If That Don’t Beat All!

Name: Ned
Gender: Male
Age: 59
Location: usa
My wife enjoys using my penis as a tic tac dispenser. I insert one (or several) into my urethra. Shortly afterwards, she sucks them out. It’s enjoyment for both of us. My question: sometimes there’s a little discomfort that usually goes away in a day or two. Is there something I can use to lessen this sensation? Is this practice too risky to continue? Can I do damage to myself?

tic-tac-fresh-mintAlrighty then; this is pretty out there, Ned. I have to say; no one’s ever reported being a human tic-tac dispenser before. So you get some extra points for the novel use of your pecker. But I’m sitting here trying to imagine how this play got started. I mean, who had the brilliant idea to shove tic-tacs in your piss slit first — you or your wife?

It’s not like I haven’t had guys tell me about the odd things they’ve slipped into their urethra. And ya know what? It’s generally a guy thing. I’ve not had a woman report such activity. I do know a couple of women who are into using urethral sounds, but nothing more exotic than that. In terms of the guys though, I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on end.

You say “sometimes there’s little discomfort that usually goes away in a day or two.” Ya don’t say! Several things could cause the discomfort you report. Two come immediately to mind. 1) The mint in the tic-tacs will no doubt be an irritant to the sensitive mucosa in your urethra. 2) You’re probably forcing the tic-tacs into your piss slit without using lubrication too, right?a little nuts

Is the practice risky? Probably! I’d never suggest anyone insert anything into his urethra that is not sterile. However, if you insist on continuing this play; the least you could do is add a drop of lube on each tic-tac before insertion. Just know that if you’re not careful such behavior carries a risk of severe irritation; tearing your urethra; or a nasty urinary tract infection, which can become more serious if it spreads to your bladder or kidneys.

My rule of thumb when considering unique uses for one’s body parts is if there is pain, something is amiss. If you can diminish the pain by being more thoughtful and careful about how or what you are doing then, things will probably be better than if ya don’t.

Good luck

What a pain in the ass!

Name: Dan
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Location: Illinois
My wife and I have enjoyed anal sex (giving and receiving to each other) for years, but now I have a problem I need help with. I had a hemorrhoidectomy surgery 3 months ago and we waited 3 months to start up again. Now using the same strap-on as we have been using it was very uncomfortable. The strap-on is only 1-1/2 “thick and I tried again by my self but it did not matter how much lube I used it still hurt. Then I started bleeding. It seems that when the hemorrhoidectomy surgery was done it made my rectum smaller. The question I have is; is there away to stretch the rectum back to the pre-surgery size or do I have to buy smaller toys (the 1-1/2” is the smallest we own right now)? I appreciate any help you can give.

Sorry to hear about the pain in your ass, Dan. I know that recuperating from invasive surgery like that isn’t fun.

ass-painHere’s the thing; I believe that you’re gonna need way more than 3 months to heal completely from the hemorrhoidectomy. I know, bummer, huh? If I had to guess, your down (pardon the pun) time will be more like 6 months to a year.

At 3 months, your ass is, no doubt, healed enough for comfortable bowel movements. But butt fucking is quite another thing. And I don’t think it’s simply an issue of stretching your rectum or the amount of lube you use. Internal healing isn’t like external healing. Plus, there’s the fact that every one of your bowel movements is stressing your rectum making the healing process more lengthy. I encourage patience.

That’s not to say that you still can’t enjoy your hole. External simulation on your rosebud will feel real nice. Digital stimulation, just inside your hole, might also be possible. Just don’t over do it or you will find the healing process will take even longer.

I have a question. Are you able to stimulate your prostate without pain? Or do you experience pain with any insertion to any depth?

Since you’re not here to fill me in on the gory details, I’ll try to respond to my own questions. If you are able to stimulate your prostate without difficulty, I recommend that you keep your anal wanderings to that depth. If, on the other hand, you can’t even go that deep without discomfort, then I suggest you stick to external stimulation for the time being.pain-in-the-ass

I already suggested butthole massage, but don’t forget your perineum, or taint, if you will. I suggest that you find a good strong vibrator, perhaps one that has a pointed (phallic) shape to it. You’re gonna want some fine pin-point accuracy for this stimulation. Move back and forth between your hole, over your taint, to your balls. Stimulate the whole shebang down there. I think you will find that pressing the vibe into your perineum will shiver your prostate in the most delectable way. Done correctly you will discover that your whole pelvis will light up.

[Anyone out there who is afraid of anal insertion, but wants to experience some of the fabled pleasures associated with being a butt pirate, will want to give this external vibration thing a try. Who knows, one day you might wind up slipping the phallic shaped vibe in your ass for real and discover that your insertion fears were unfounded.]

Dan, give your ass at least 3 more months to heal. At that time try doing some very careful and tentative insertions to see how things feel down there. If there is even the slightest pain [internal pain as opposed to sphincter discomfort] stop what you are doing. Don’t try and force the issue. Like I said, this could take a year to heal properly.

Keep me posted on your progress.

Good luck

Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?

Name: BJ
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Location: PA
I’ve been sexually active for several years now and have yet to reach an orgasm. Oral sex, intercourse nor masturbation have been effective. Is there something wrong with me, what might help?

I’d be very much surprised if there was actually something physically wrong with you. But you clearly have some difficulty letting go. And simply put, an orgasm is letting go of built up sexual tension.the big O

Lot of preorgasmic women don’t feel entitled to an orgasm, for one reason or another. Other women are simply unversed on how to make the big “O” happen in their own fine self. Sometimes it’s a combination of both resistance and a lack of know how.

I once had a client, a woman in her late 30’s, the mother of three and a devote Catholic. She was preorgasmic too. Her big stumbling block was fear. You got it; fear of having an orgasm. She had heard from other women over the years how powerful orgasms were and how much fun they were. My client somehow got it in her head that if she were to ever let go and give up that long-awaited screamin’ meme, her entire world would collapse. She’d become a sex addict, neglect her children, divorce her husband and turn her back on God…the whole enchilada.

With that kind of mindset, this little lady wasn’t gonna let herself cum no how.

the big O 2I had to reassure her that, as delightful as orgasms are, they are not like crack cocaine. I told her there was no chance that she’d fly to pieces as a mother, wife and friend of Jesus if she were to diddle herself once in a while. I had to keep repeating this over and over till it finally sank in. You talk about hardheaded! In the end, she had her precious orgasm, joined the ranks for the sexually satisfied and lived happily ever after. …Well, I can’t honestly say about the happily ever after part, but she sure did smile a whole lot more afterwards.

Back to you BJ, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could have one of your gal-pals show you how it’s done, is there? The reason I ask is most guys learn how to choke the chicken by watching, or being instructed by another guy. Us men folk are really good about doin that for one another. Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to do this for one another as much. Which is a freakin’ pity, if ya ask me.

If you can’t (or won’t) get a pal to show you around proper pussy pleasuring, I have another suggestion for you. Mozie on over to DR DICK’S HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY  and check out a swell instructional video. (There’s a link to this marvelous resource in the header.) Do a quick search for “female masturbation” and let the experts show you a thing or two. You’ll be so glad you did.

Another great resource: The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime by the brilliant Mikaya Heart. By the way, you can find a dynamite two-part interview with Mikaya HERE and HERE!ultimate-guide-to-orgasm-for-women-lg

Here are a few tips:

Get in the mood

Relax as much as you can. Whatever that means for you. Take a warm bath or have a glass of wine. Ensure your privacy: turn off the phone, lock the door for privacy from roommates, kids, whoever. Find a comfy position. Most women start out lying on their backs, legs bent and spread apart, with feet on the ground. Remove most or all of your clothing (or as much as your comfortable with).

Explore your body

Run your hands along your body, lingering along areas that are more responsive to touch than others. If you’re able to do it, and you’ve never done it before, you might want to try to look at your genitals in a mirror. Because so many women are raised with negative messages about their bodies, and particularly their genitals, being able to see while you touch can be powerful and surprising. Find and touch your inner and outer labia, your clitoris, your vagina and your perineum.

Touch yourself

Using one or two fingers, rhythmically stroke the different parts of your vulva, paying particular attention to your clitoris and labia. Experiment with different types of pressure, speed and motion. Try placing a finger on either side of the clitoris and stroking up and down, or placing two fingers on the clitoral hood and rubbing in a circular motion.

Experiment

Try different types of touch: stroke, tickle, knead, pinch, or lightly pull your genitals. Try using one or several fingers, the palm of your hand, even your knuckles.

Build up excitement

Learn to hold onto sexual excitement by building up and then reducing or temporarily stopping the stimulation. (Men do this all the time when they jack-off.  It’s called edging.) Pay attention to how your body is responding. It will tell you the particular stroke that feels best and when to pick up or slow down the tempo.

Don’t forget to breathe

Many women hold their breath as they get excited. Be mindful of your breath and learn to play with breathing during arousal. Try to breathe deeply rather than hold your breath. This can help release the sexual energy, rather than fight it.

Moving a little

In addition to often holding our breath, many women tense up and don’t move much at all when wtheye masturbate. This might work for you just fine, but if you haven’t explored movement, it’s worth a try. Moving while you are getting turned on, and moving during orgasm can change the way you experience pleasure in your body. For some women this means rocking their pelvis. For others it means moving their legs or torso side to side. Find what movement works for you and then intentionally start doing it while you masturbate.

Letting go

If your hand gets tired, give yourself a rest, switch hands, or try a vibrator. If you’re on the brink of orgasm, but can’t quite get over the hump, try to become more conscious of your breathing, give yourself extra stimulation: caress your nipples, or try thrusting your other fingers or a dildo in and out of your vagina.

Ride the Wave

As you begin to orgasm, continue the stimulation through the orgasm. Lighten up on the stimulation during the first extremely sensitive moments but keep it going to enjoy those little pleasurable aftershocks. Your first orgasm may feel like a blip or a blast, but the more you practice, the more variety you will experience.

Fantasizing

Sexual fantasy can be a double edged sword when it comes to masturbation. If you have trouble getting yourself in the mood or getting over the top, a hot fantasy may be just the ticket. I often suggest reading erotica to get in the mood. However, when we fantasize some of our attention is taken away from what’s happening in our bodies in the moment. Sometimes what is getting in the way of us enjoying masturbation is that distance from our bodies. It’s good to try everything, but be mindful of whether or not your fantasies are acting as an enhancer or a distraction.

hitachi-magic-wand-2Some final thoughts…
Vibrators take some of the manual labor out of masturbation by providing direct, intense physical stimulation to the clitoris.  check out all the marvelous vibrators we’ve reviewed for you at Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews.

Many women learn to jill-off in the bath or shower. A direct the stream of water on your vulva and clitoris can be a game changer. Vary the pressure, the pulsation, and the temperature. Alternate methods: slide your butt over the drain so your legs are up in the air and your genitals are up under the tub faucet (rather awkward but do-able for some), or use Jacuzzi jets.

Rub against something–a pillow, the corner of some furniture, a washing machine in operation.

Dildos can be a pleasurable accompaniment to clitoral masturbation, as they offer the fullness of penetration and can also stimulate the g-spot.

Write back again, BJ, and let me know how things go. If you’re not successful, I still have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

Good luck

Boys Will Be Boyz

Name: TJ
Gender: Male
Age: 41
Location: ma
ever since i was a teen i have had the hots for my dad. i would walk into the bathroom on him, or his room to seesmoking him naked and to see his dick. i use to love catching him jack off. i loved to see him in his boxers, and would jack off in his boxers. i even would play with him when he was a sleep get him hard and jack myself off. i thought i was over this till he stayed with me over the weekend. he came out of the bathroom in just his boxers. i was only wearing my boxers also. i became hard and excited. the old thought of playing with his cock came back. that night i went into the guest room took out his penis from his boxers and played with it. till it was erect. i then took a pair of his boxers and jacked off in them. i am 41 now should i have out grown this attraction to my dad?? he knows i am gay, we have talked several times about my playing with him but should this attraction continue?? — lost and confused in dads boxers

This is precious, TJ. You’ve been fondlin’ and jerkin’ off your old man for decades, albeit while he “sleeps.” (He’s one hell of a deep sleeper, huh?) He knows all about you, your attraction to him and your late night play sessions with his cock and underwear. But he still comes for a visit. And predictably, you set upon him again in his sleep. How may more incredible things could you possibly add to a single paragraph?

And all you want to know is, is it odd that you continue to behave like this with your father and continue to have this attraction to him now that you’re 41 years old. AMAZING! Odd? Yeah, I’ll say it’s odd!

Where to begin? Oh skip it! If you and your dad (now somewhere in his late 60’s or even 70’s) are still playing at this little game it must be pretty harmless by this time.

Your behavior and attraction continue because you feed it, darling. No big mystery there.

Name: Alan
Gender: Male
Age: 41
Location: Victoria
I find it takes me for ever to jack off even watching videos it can take 40 minutes an when I do shoot it is only a small amount.

nipplesYou don’t say, Alan! I’ve never heard that question before. No wait, that’s baloney. I’ve heard and written extensively about this very issue.

Look to your right. See the CATEGORY pull down menu in the sidebar? EXCELLENT! Now search for the terms: “Ejaculate” and “Ejaculation Concerns” and “Cum.”  Between these categories you will find the answers you are looking for.

Here’s a tip: you’ll also want to check out what I’ve had to say about “Kegels.” You’re gonna want to know all about these handy-dandy exercises to tone up your PC muscle. Both men and women need to attend to their PC muscle. Not sure what the fuck I’m talking about. Not to worry. You have some fun reading and listening ahead of you.

Good luck

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