For those who experience erectile dysfunction after treatment for prostate cancer, it may seem that your sex life is over. But this attitude can have a significant negative impact on a man’s psychology and his relationship. Many men at this time withdraw from their partner, and can even experience depression. Though things have changed, there are many ways couples can still enjoy physical intimacy that is deeply satisfying to both partners. One strategy sex therapists often promote is called sensate focus, first proposed by psychological paragons Masters and Johnson. This is a series of exercises practiced by couples, done in stages that take place over several weeks. In the first stage one person becomes the “giver” and the other the “receiver.” This practice should be done in a safe, relaxing space free of worry, anxiety, or judgment. Remember that the goal is not to achieve arousal or orgasm but merely to practice touching in a way that stimulates one another.
At stage one touching takes place where the giver touches the receiver. The giver starts with the person’s face but does not stay there. Different kinds of touching can occur such as kissing, stroking, tickling, caressing, and more. These can move to anyplace on the partner’s body the giver wishes to go. Lovers should do this at their own pace. No talking occurs. Instead couples give each other physical cues such as gently removing the hand if one doesn’t like the sensation, or placing it more firmly should they enjoy it. Each area of the body is explored. After 20-30 minutes partners may switch roles. An erection can occur. But lovers must not have intercourse. Also, realize that orgasm is not the goal. Couples should take part in this practice two to three times per week for one to two weeks.
At stage two, stage one is enacted. But here lovers can move on to the genitals and breasts after completing the first stage. One person takes each role and switches after 20-30 minutes. Intercourse should not be attempted. Do this two to three times per week for two to three weeks. Stage three starts with stages one and two. This is followed by mutual touching. Practice at this tier for the same length of time as the other two. Intercourse should still not be attempted. Finally, at stage four all the stages are included sequentially. At the end of mutual touching, body rubbing can occur. If the man is able, full intercourse can take place at this stage as well. Speak with your doctor or a urologist if you are going through prostate cancer, or are struggling with sexual issues in the aftermath.