Q: How does a guy get over performance anxiety? My penis works in private. I can masturbate, but since my divorce I've been with four or five women and I've had a hard time getting and keeping it hard. On one second date, the woman decided to take off my pants and give me a blow job, but I just couldn't respond. I think the problem was initially depression and fear. Another issue was I wasn't really that attracted to these women, but just going through the motions. Nearly two years after getting divorced, I'm feeling much better, but all I can think about is whether I'll be able to perform if I do meet someone attractive. Any advice on how to quell the panic and over-thinking?

A: As a woman, I'm envious of a few things men have the unique ability to do: urinate standing up, jack off in the shower and get ready to go out in five minutes (vs. my hour and five minutes). One thing I'm glad I don't have to deal with, however, is male sexual performance anxiety. Sometimes girls aren't into the moment, but at least we can still go through with it. But there's not a whole lot going on if you guys aren't into it, besides rolling over, going to sleep and dreaming of pancake breakfasts.

Before you deal with the psychological, make sure all the physical aspects are in check. How's your fitness? Healthy blood circulation is key to popping and keeping your chub, so make sure you're getting enough heart-pumping exercise. The body functions best when it's in good shape all over; add a little yoga or Pilates to a regular jogging routine and you'll be primed for sexual activity. Also, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use can all put a damper on your bedroom activities.

How's your diet? I'm a huge proponent of fixing your body with whole foods. Zinc is great for boosting libido function, and you can find it in pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. Vitamin B-complex and potassium are good for reducing stress, and you can find them in bananas, avocados and coconut water. Vitamin A helps promote testosterone production, so eat plenty of carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.

Getting your body in check will help alleviate stress, which contributes to all forms of anxiety, including sexual. Getting enough sleep will also help, as it allows you to accomplish more during the day so you can keep a clear mind when it's time to get naked.

If you tell yourself to stop thinking about your erection, the only thing you'll be able to think about is your erection, and subsequently you'll lose it. So try thinking about nothing. It's basically impossible, but will help clear your mind of other distractions. Use a condom to ease any worry of pregnancy or STIs. Take the pressure off by not having intercourse, instead just exploring each other's bodies with massage. When you do have sex, try doing it in the morning when your little soldier is more apt to stand at attention on his own.

All that said, I had an enlightening conversation with a guy friend recently. He was sort of in the same situation as you: He had just started dating a girl exclusively, and after one incident of not being able to keep it up, he successfully psyched himself out of being able to stay hard every time thereafter. He found his solution in a little blue pill. The next time he was ready to have sex, he popped a Viagra and kept a nice erection all the way through the act (and a little while after, which I suppose is a hazard of Viagra). His lady friend was none the wiser, and overcoming the problem just once gave him the confidence to keep it up from then on, without pharmaceutical help. Remember the Little Engine That Could? If you think you can, then you know you can and you will.

  • Alexis McKinnis is taking your questions about sex, dating and relationships. Send them to advice@vita.mn or submit anonymously at www.vita.mn/alexis. Don't leave out the juicy details!