One of the shortcomings of American healthcare (and I think a reflection of the American culture in general) is that specialties have evolved to become expert in a specific topic. This has produced a level of expertise in subjects that is simply amazing. Specialization has resulted in turning HIV into a managed disease, making leukemia a treatable disease, and has allowed diabetics to lead largely normal lives. But this specialization does come at a cost 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 at hand, a combination of these treatment approaches often results in successful outcomes. 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 the game of golf for example, involves just as much mental stamina as physical stamina. Getting the athlete in great physical shape as well as mental shape is very important. However, a player of any sport must be educated in how to play the sport. We cannot imagine training a soccer player physically and yet not teach him how to actually play the sport, understand the rules of the sport, and equip him with various strategies to accomplish his goals. Athletes at any level will discover that as they age, they play smarter not harder.
Yet when it comes to sex, it seems to me that most doctors (and an awful lot of sex therapists) feel that education about the rudiments of sex are not needed. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth. Most men learn about sex from teenage boys and porn. If you have not guessed yet, both of those sources are completely wrong about sex. But because most men are able to penetrate someone with their penis, the assumption is they know how to have sex.
The sex most men are having 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 making out followed by genital stimulation and then intercourse – which must end in an orgasm. If there is any variance in this sequence of events, the sex is bad or at the very least “less-than”, and the result is usually humiliation and a sense of failure.
When it comes to sexual medicine, we must treat the whole person, mind, body, and spirit. Training the mind/brain about sex is where most human sexuality healthcare falls short. We can treat the body to function optimally, we can help people to be fully realized, but if we do not offer skills-based understanding of human sexuality, we are failing our patients.
Sex education should bear absolutely no resemblance to what most of us experienced in middle school. Real sex education is understanding what sex is, why we are having it, what we hope to accomplish from having sex, and finally learning of a set of skills that help us accomplish our goals for sex.
Just as most of us should strive to be lifelong learners, when it comes to sex we should strive for the same thing. The sex we have as we age should bear less and less resemblance to the sex we had in adolescence. Just like any aging athlete, we should have sex smarter, not harder.
At Maze Men’s Health, we always treat the whole patient, addressing both the physical and psychological factors, supplemented by education. If you’re experiencing a sexual concern, contact us for a free phone consultation to learn more about how we can help.