Dear Dr. Jenni,
My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years ago. The treatment left him impotent. We are in our early 50s and have everything we always had together, except sex. I too am a breast cancer survivor, and fully support him. But I have a great appetite for sex and I can’t imagine going the rest of my life without it! What should I do? I don’t want to suffer forever.
—Confused and horny
Your sex life need not suffer just because your husband cannot attain an erection. As such, your question is really one that asks: What is sex? It sounds like your history as a survivor allows you to better empathize with your husband’s situation. Like you, he may be reconstructing what his masculinity means, post-cancer. Many men associate a robust erection with strong, potent manhood. However, a man is more than just his penis. Human beings are sexual inside and out, head to toe, in mind, body and spirit. And sex can be defined in just the same way.
Rather than conceptualizing sex as purely a genital experience that begins and ends with an erection, can you consider it a dance of body and mind — a sensual play of words and full body touch? Similar to when you experienced a mastectomy, you might have had to re-learn your erogenous body map. If you want penetration, get creative with dildos and strap-ons.
Keep in mind that because erection, orgasm, and ejaculation are separate events, your husband might still be able to orgasm without his erection. This can be an opportunity to dive deeper into intimacy and various ways to pleasure one another. Explore fantasies, desires and unknown erogenous regions, like toes or the back of the knee, and see what the world of sexual pleasure can hold when you expand sex beyond just the dance of genitals.Dear Dr. Jenni,
However, he can do nothing but talk about sex. Sex, sex, sex — it’s all he talks about, and it seems it’s all he wants. It drives me crazy. In the past six months, I have broken up with him twice already because of this. He says he’ll stop, does so for a while, then is right back at it again. Is it normal for a 25-year-old guy to think of nothing except sex? How do I get it across to him that I am not a receptacle and don’t want to feel used? I want to be more than just a fuck buddy.
—Frustrated Fuck Buddy
You seem to be confused. On one hand you feel like your boyfriend might possibly be “the one.” On the other hand, you feel like his fuck buddy. These feelings seem inconsistent.
To answer your question — yes, many young men in their teens and 20s, and up to their 70s and 80s, constantly think about sex. Younger men raging with hormones may think about sex even more. Now, if he is unable to talk about anything else, to the extent that you broke up with him twice in a short time span, what makes you stay in the relationship?
Another question to consider is, how do you feel about yourself as a sexual woman? Is he implying that you are a receptacle, or do you feel this way because he is leaving out how he also feels about the rest of your character traits? Rather than telling him what not to say, perhaps tell him what you also need to hear.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.