Men talk about sex a lot and think about it even more. But researchers have found they engage in sex far less often than their level of interest suggests.
One reason is they simply can’t do it. You might say their minds are willing but their flesh is weak. So weak that Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs are among the best-selling in history.
Many factors underlie this flaccid situation, according to experts. For one thing, the brain is indeed the body’s largest sex organ. And men’s brains are bombarded with conflicting messages about sex.
“Young men find it hard to understand when their body is telling them to enjoy (their penis), but their parents or their church or the people around them are telling them it’s wrong,” said Scott Story, a Janesville-based sex “mentor.”
Story and his wife are raising their children to feel comfortable with their bodies, he said. Clothing is optional in his home. A recent family dinner conversation, he told me, focused on the volume of male ejaculate.
Story’s clients include a lot of gay and lesbian couples trying to save relationships that have been driven to the brink due to one partner’s lack of sexual interest, he said. For LGBT people, sex is especially fraught with psychological complications. In addition to all the ordinary stressors that adversely affect sexual interest and performance – work stress, relationship problems, money issues, depression, poor body images, etc. – gays often are raised to believe their sexual feelings are abnormal and sinful.
Having a healthy sexual experience while your super-ego mind is shrieking, “Shame on you, pervert,” is not a cakewalk, say therapists who work with the LGBT community. The subconscious shame that’s chiseled into many LGBT people’s brains during childhood is considered the leading factor behind high suicide, drug abuse and alcoholism rates in the community.
Ironically, another factor underlying sexual dysfunction is the pervasiveness of Internet porn – a mulitbillion-dollar worldwide industry, (Interestingly, Elmhurst, Ill., is the nation’s top city for porn searches, Sunday is porn’s busiest day online and Utah has the highest online porn subscription rate.)
One of the effects of all this porn consumption is that people are becoming increasingly insecure about their bodies and sexual capabilities, Story said. This is particularly true for young people, who are learning about sex from porn sites. They believe that the sculpted bodies, gymnastic copulations and copious ejaculations they see online are normal.
With constant exposure to porn star sex and porn star bodies, young and old people alike are sometimes crippled with the fear of disappointing their partners. For men, this can cause impotence, which leads to depression and relationship problems, which results in more impotence, said Dr. Chris Asandra, a practicing partner at NuMale Medical Center in Wauwatosa. Men caught in this loop wind up feeling woefully inadequate.
For many men, there’s nothing more embarrassing than a limp penis during a sexual encounter. An erect penis is the symbol of masculinity and strength, and “men in general, gay or straight, have difficulty dealing with anything that can reflect (negatively) on their sense of masculinity,” said John Meier, a Milwaukee counselor with a large gay clientele.
Use it or lose it
Besides all the psychological factors limiting men’s sexual pleasure, there are many physical causes for ED, including aging, declining testosterone levels, nutritional deficiencies and an epidemic of modern illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. But even when ED doesn’t begin as a physical problem, it can become one, according to Asandra.
The penis is like a muscle, he explained. Blood vessels run along both sides of the penis. Sexual stimulation causes those vessels to engorge, flooding the surrounding spongy tissue to create an erection.
Like a muscle, the penis requires exercise or it loses its ability to function. After long periods of inactivity, it atrophies. Asandra explained during a recent visit to his clinic.
At NuMale, doctors restore the penis to full functionality by giving men a chance to exercise it. Their first step is to administer vasodilators – drugs that relax smooth tissue, causing arteries to open and allow blood to flow in – directly to the base of the penis. Because the procedure is so precisely targeted, it succeeds more than 95 percent of the time.
Although urologists have been using vasodilators to induce erections for at least a decade, NuMale has taken the treatment to a new level. Asandra demonstrated the treatment on a patient who asked not to be identified by name.
The treatment began with an assessment of blood flow to the penis using an ultrasound device. A loud whooshing sound and a strong pulse indicate healthy bloodflow.
The patient, a gay man over 60 we’ll call Peter, had audibly healthy blood flow on the right side of his penis. But the blood flow on his left side sounded faint. No wonder he hadn’t had a strong erection in well over a year, he said.
After confirming that blood flow was a problem for the patient, Asandra took a detailed patient history and went over the list of medications Peter takes on a regular basis. He said he would use the information, along with the result of the ultrasound test, to determine which vasodilators to use on Peter and at what dosage.
The treatment was handled in a friendly and supportive but thoroughly clinical manner. Asandra quickly put the patient at ease, and soon we were chatting about Peter’s Johnson as if it were a separate object.
But “This is very serious medically and not something to be taken lightly,” Asandra stressed. “A lot of people say the penis is the window to the body. If you’re having trouble getting blood flow down there, it usually signals something else is wrong in the body. It could be bad circulation, diabetes, even heart disease.”
Not using the penis only adds additional health problems, he added.
“The more you have sex and the more you ejaculate, the more you lower your (chances) of getting prostate cancer,” he said. “You keep your sperm and testosterone levels at a healthier level than if you ignore your penis.”
Ultimately, Asandra believes that men should exercise their penises three or four times a week – “the same as going to a gym,” he said.
Asandra left the room and returned with a concoction of vasodilators specifically chosen for Peter’s age, weight, medical history, and level of dysfunction, he said. He also brought a device that looked similar to an insulin pen. Asandra called it a “micro-applicator.”
“This is not going to hurt,” he promised Peter, who looked a bit scared. “What you’ll feel is like a thunk.”
Peter braced himself for the application, which took a few seconds. But afterward, he was beaming. “It really didn’t hurt,” he said. “It felt exactly like a thunk.”
Peter was told to massage the medicine into his shaft. A few minutes later, he was fully erect and looking awfully pleased.
Peter’s erection lasted 55 minutes, within the 45 minutes to an hour target time that the doctor was shooting for.
In addition to having a higher success rate than ED drugs, physically administered vasodilators have fewer side effects. That’s because the active ingredient in pills circulates throughout the entire body. Because they’re systemic rather than targeted, ED pills affect different areas of the body in different ways that are unique to each individual. Viagra, for instance, can cause headaches, changes in vision that make everything appear bluish and nasal congestion.
A potential side effect from NuMale’s treatment is priapism – a prolonged, painful and potentially dangerous erection. That’s why patients must initially try the medication in the doctor’s office. Asandra has to ascertain that the erection lasts no longer than desired. An antidote is on hand if the formulation proves too strong.
Once the right dose for the patient has been established, the patient receives an instruction session and a kit to take home, so he can use the therapy at leisure. The applicator is inconspicuous and simple enough to use without detection.
The equipment comes with a 24/7 hotline that provides users of the product support by phone in case questions arise. The cost per treatment is lower than that of Viagra. But, because it’s not mass-produced but rather formulated according to each individual’s unique situation, it’s sold in larger quantities than pills.
Peter purchased a year’s worth, based on a usage rate of three times weekly. Using the product two days in a row is not recommended.
Asandra said NuMale’s treatment actually cures ED. Regular use returns normal blood flow to the penis, along with increasing its size and girth, he said – and he should know. Asandra said he’s seen patients whose penises have shriveled to mere nubs after decades of neglect.
“I’ve always been interested in men’s health and vitality, and I wanted to offer a place where men could come to talk about and share their sexual health problems and dysfunction,” Asandra said. “A lot of guys don’t talk to their primary doctors about it. And when they do, they’re just given pills and told, ‘Good luck.’ This treats the condition therapeutically rather than just putting a Band-Aid on it.”
Asandra added: “Nothing is more gratifying to me than when a patient (in an unraveling relationship) says, ‘Doc you’ve restored my relationship and rekindled something we’d lost 20 yeas ago.’”
Although the majority of Asandra’s patients are in their 50s and 60s, they range in age from their early 20s to 94. His 94-year-old patient has intercourse with his 87-year-old wife twice weekly, thanks to the vasodilators.
“It really only takes about six months to cure ED,” said NuMale president Brad Palubicki. “The vast majority of patients will even say they got their size back.”
“The ultimate goal is penile regeneration,” he said. “It’s a size thing, a confidence thing, a relationship builder. Most people come in either because their wife or boyfriend made them. They want them to engage in sexual activity.”
“The use of this is primarily to save relationships,” Palubicki emphasized.
He said that besides helping men achieve erections, the treatment also helps them achieve orgasm.
“A lot of patients can still get an erection but they can’t have an orgasm because they’re not hard enough to climax,” he explained. “They go home and use this for the first time, and because they’re hard they have a climax. The phone calls (of gratitude) we get are pretty amazing.”
Palubicki acknowledged that not every patient suffers from ED or is in a relationship. Some men seek the service simply because they’re able to have “mind-blowing” sex with the boost they get.
In a world where everyone is supposed to look like – and have the endurance of – a porn star, vasodilators are apparently able to fulfill at least one of those goals.
Editor’s note: NuMale is a Wisconsin Gazette advertiser.
On the Web
For more, go to http://numalemedical.com or call 414-727-8787.