Relieving the Pressure
Sexuality is multidimensional, involving anticipation, desire, love and attachment. Psychological treatment strategies therefore vary with each person. Most therapists will begin with conversation to get to know an individual's life circumstances, needs, hopes and worries. A treatment regimen might include 10 to 20 therapy sessions, along with partner exercises at home. These may involve massage or stroking in which both partners take turns, as well as simple guidance from the therapist about how they can unwind together. By doing these exercises, the partners begin to unlearn fear and to take pleasure in natural body contact.
An erection is triggered psychologically; without this impetus, the potency pills are of little help.
Most treatments are not based on long-term therapeutic intervention. Some regimens are as short as one week, during which patients relearn how to relax and how to stay worry-free during sex. Exercise and other physical interventions short of drugs can also play a part; some plans may include deep-relaxation procedures and, as in hypnosis, may synchronize a subject's breathing with words voiced by the therapist.
Other counselors will prescribe exercise sessions with machines that strengthen the pelvic musculature. A recently published study by urologist Frank Sommer of the University Medical Center in Cologne, Germany, showed that regular, targeted exercise improved the sexual potency of 80 percent of the men who tried it, compared with 74 percent of men treated with Viagra. Many men feel better simply because they have some kind of handle on the situation.
The success of sex therapy cannot be measured simply by whether a man regains his sexual potency--even though that is why most men seek treatment. A man who learns to live in harmony with his partner and not race through life pursuing a self-image as a sex machine has already taken a giant step toward a more satisfying sexual life.
This article was originally published with the title Talk It Up.