For many men, the erectile-dysfunction drugs Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are the answer to their prayers. But, according to Sexuality in Midlife and Beyond, a new report from Harvard Medical School, these pills offer no help in untangling the emotional and relationship pressures that frequently accompany erectile dysfunction (ED).
For one thing, the medications work only if the man is feeling sexual desire for his partner. If emotional issues are impinging on libido, the pills won't help. A man struggling with ED may be so embarrassed that he is no longer willing to attempt sexual activity, and his partner may mistakenly believe that he is no longer attracted to her. She may assume that her partner's newfound erections are merely a chemical phenomenon, not the result of his interest in her. In these cases, sex therapy may be helpful.
When intercourse is suddenly a possibility again, relationship issues can emerge or resurface, as can dramatic differences in libido. The bottom line is that couples should try to regard these drugs as an opportunity to renew their sexual relationship, while realizing that ED drugs are neither a mandate to have intercourse nor a panacea for every problem in the bedroom.
Sexuality in Midlife and Beyond is a 48-page report edited by Alan Altman, M.D., Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Suki Hanfling, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., certified sex therapist. This report helps readers understand
• sexuality and attitudes about sexuality and aging, including emotional and social issues
• how health problems, including medications, affect sexuality
• the pros and cons of treatments for common sexual problems
• the role of sex therapy and what to expect
• how to use self-help strategies and put the fun back into sex.