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Is Rocket Man's aborted lift-off due to stinking thinking?

answered 03:23 PM EST, Fri December 02, 2011
I am not sure if this is supposed go under anxiety or what – but it is something I am very stressed and anxious about.

I am a 20 year old man and I have been sexually active since I was 15 and I have had 11 sexual partners and had sex hundreds of times without any problem at all. Last month I met this girl at a bar and we went home together and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t get it up. I don’t know why but it really sucked but I guess I didn’t feel too upset by it. But then a couple of weeks later I hooked up with an old fling and we went out and ended up back at her place. Just for fun like. But as soon as we started fooling around I started to think about what happened last time and the more I tried not to think about it the more I did think about it. I couldn’t enjoy myself at all and the same thing happened again. I was so embarrassed I just rushed away.

Now, I am totally freaked out. How can I ever sleep with another girl for the first time? As soon as we start getting intimate I am totally going to be wondering if it’s going to happen again and it’s totally going to happen again. How can I break free from this? I am very worried about this.

Art Matthews Says...

Your lack of performance is very likely related to anxiety, now that you experienced the initial "failure to launch". Just to be sure there isn't something going on physically, make an appointment with your physician.

Rest assured this has happened to many, many men; more so than are willing to admit it. Based on what you have said, you understand the real culprit here which is your thinking. Once you think about not getting it up (and how horribly humiliationg, awful, terrible that will be), you activate the Fight/Flight response which is controlled by the Sympathetic Nervous System. The SNS is supposed to initiate this response in relationship to a threat, but can be activated by an extreme psychological stressor or an accumulation of stress.

The physiological mechanism that makes erections possible can only occur when the Parasympathetic Nervous System is activated causing a relaxation response to the body. In the language of the ancients, you have "psyched yourself out" with all the catastrophic thinking of how bad it will be if it happens again. You need to chill out and be in the moment, enjoying the physical sensations and paying attention to anything but worrying about Mr. Happy taking a stand.

Pay attention to your breathing and learn some relaxation breathing techniques to reverse the Fight/Flight response. Trying to force an erection is like trying to force yourself to go to sleep. It ain't happenin'! It may be good to talk with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist or someone trained in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. I highly recommend Dr. Andrew Weil's "Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing" audio CD.

If you start to get a little twinge of worry or anxiety while becoming intimate, focus on her happiness and enjoyment. Not all women find intercourse the most satisfying sexual act. Mastering the art of massage, touch, rubbing, and "going downtown" can make you a very popular man indeed. Of course one word of caution, stay safe. Know your STD status and the status of your partners. Put a rubber on it, use a dental dam, and use spermicidal lube with anti-viral additives. There are also vaccines for Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) and Hepatitis B (Hep-B) you can also consider but neither are effective as protection against HIV/AIDS.

Negatively anticipating, judging yourself and focusing on the negative if you should fail to get or keep an erection will lead to adrenaline production and the triggering of the SNS's Fight/Flight response. Work on reducing your anxiety with breathing and mental distraction through focusing on what is happening in the here and now. Paying more attention to her and her happiness can get your starship off the launching pad and put her in outer space!

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Page last updated Dec 02, 2011

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