One of the shortcomings of American health care (and I think this reflects American culture in general) is that specialties have become experts on a particular subject. This has resulted in a level of expertise that is simply amazing. Specialization has resulted in HIV becoming a treated disease, leukemia becoming a treatable disease, and allowing diabetics to lead largely normal lives. However, this specialization comes at the expense of broader knowledge. What often happens is the loss of cross-pollination of ideas, treatments, and approaches that can most effectively help the patient.
In the complex world of human sexuality, there have traditionally been two approaches to sexual problems: medical intervention and sex therapy. Both are valuable and, depending on the problem, a combination of these treatment approaches often leads to successful results. However, there is one very important facet that is often missing: education.
I often draw parallels between sports medicine and sexual medicine. We understand that playing golf, for example, involves just as much mental endurance as physical endurance. It is very important to get the athlete in shape both physically and mentally. However, a player in a sport must be trained to practice the sport. We cannot imagine physically training a soccer player and yet not teaching him how to actually play the sport, understand the rules of the sport, and equip him with various strategies to achieve his goals. Athletes at all levels will find that as they age, they play smarter, not harder.
However, when it comes to sex, it seems to me that most doctors (and very many sex therapists) agree that education about the basics of sex is not necessary. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Most men learn sex from teenagers and porn. If you haven’t already guessed it, both sources are completely wrong when it comes to sex. But because most men are able to penetrate someone with their penis, it is assumed that they know how to have sex.
The sex that most men have is usually some kind of recreation of a porn scene. The sexual experience is usually a strict adherence to a sequence of events that begins with turning it off, followed by genital stimulation and subsequent intercourse – which must end in an orgasm. When there is variation in this sequence of events, the gender is bad, or at least “less than,” and the result is usually humiliation and a sense of failure.
When it comes to sex medicine, we need to treat the whole person, mind, body and spirit. Training the mind / brain about sex is where most health services fall short on human sexuality. We can treat the body so that it works optimally, we can help people to fully realize themselves, but if we don’t provide a competency-based understanding of human sexuality, we fail our patients.
Sex education should have absolutely nothing to do with what most of us experienced in middle school. Real sex education means understanding what sex is, why we have it, what we want to achieve through sex, and ultimately, learning a range of skills that will help us achieve our goals for sex.
Just as most of us should strive to learn for life, so should we strive for the same during sex. The sex we have as we age should bear less and less resemblance to the sex we were in youth. Like any aging athlete, we should have sex smarter, not harder.
At Maze Men’s Health we always treat the entire patient, taking into account both physical and psychological factors, supplemented by education. If you have sexual concerns, contact us for a free phone consultation to learn more about how we can help.