By martinuptonwells, 08-Dec-2013 10:02:00
Understand What Sex Does to Your Brain
By: Daniel Amen, M.D.
article in Mens Health Magazine
You're sitting behind the wheel of your van at an everlasting traffic light. The only thing slower than the traffic is your perception of time's passage.
Then you notice her.
She appears at the curb, waiting to cross. No, she's not the love of your life. She's more like the heat of the moment. It's fortunate that your wife isn't there, otherwise you'd be in deep trouble as you take in the stranger's hips and breasts, and the way her waist scoops in to accentuate both. Time is enhanced; there's a pleasing buzz connecting your temples.
Your reaction is automatic, reflexive, and quite possibly the most powerful one you'll have this day. It temporarily blots out your long-range commitments—that 10-year marriage, that kid in second grade, that responsibility to keep eyes forward at traffic lights. You've surrendered control; you're captivated by the pleasure in the vision.
"You dog!" you may whisper under your breath, embarrassed by what you're envisioning as you sit there in your family van. But it might be more correct to say, "You dopamine fiend!" As a neuroscientist of 25 years, I know that your brain is command central for everything sexual.
When you spot the object of your desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine lights up areas deep within the brain, triggering feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward. (Cocaine acts the same way.) You feel a rush, and your heartbeat quickens. Attraction, too, is a powerful drug. The brain stem also gets into the act, releasing phenylethylamine (PEA), which speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. It's no wonder your neck and eyeballs track her every movement.
But she's not gawking back at you, and it's not just because you're driving a family bus with a paint scrape on the fender. Her brain acts very differently from yours. You're keyed in to beauty, shape, fantasy, and obsession; on some biological level that she may be unaware of, she's trolling for a mate who will sire healthy children and protect and provide for her and them. And yes, maybe even buy them a family van.
Her goals are programmed for the long range; yours are often shockingly short term, right up to and including thoughts of pedestrianophilia. And she knows it, which is why she presses those short-term buttons shotgun-style: She never knows when a suitable mate might be looking.
The whole encounter can leave you quivering with pleasure, hoping for more.
It can also hijack and ruin your life.
And between the "walk" and "don't walk" signals of delight and disaster, your brain is sorting information, making choices, spurring actions. But you don't want to passively accept all that, especially because your whole life is riding on the choices you make.
That's where I come in. I know the brain processes behind the temptations, and I can help you steer clear of trouble. After all, that woman in the crosswalk could help you realize your destiny, or derail it entirely. All the more reason to get to know that big sex organ between your ears so you can control the smaller, less important one between your legs.
Why You've Always Been Horny
You've been lit up on testosterone right from the start, even when you were just a multicelled notion in your mother's womb. The inherited Y chromosome that makes you male (thanks, Dad) triggers two bursts of testosterone that change your brain and body.
The first produces a male brain: one that's more interested in objects, actions, and competition. The left (parietal) lobe flourishes in the testosterone bath and helps you visualize objects in three dimensions (good for catching a football or watching a woman cross the street), and it boosts your aptitude in mathematics (that's how you estimate that she's about a 34DD). In addition, testosterone beefs up your hypothalamus, the area of the brain that's interested in sex. The hypothalamus is twice as large in men as it is in women.
Why You Become Hornier as a Teen
That's when the second big burst of testosterone hits, causing your hair to sprout everywhere, your voice to flip from Norah Jones to James Earl Jones, and your interest in third base to go from literal to metaphorical. (Touch 'em all!) Your body now harbors 20 times the level of testosterone found in girls your age, which accounts for your sexual obsessions.
Unfortunately, your brain is maladapted for sociability, so she can overwhelm you with words, and all you have to counter them is silent (thank goodness) adolescent lust. It's an advantage she has that you'll never make up. On your side of the ledger: Your left brain—the planning center—is massive, which helps in planning the Panama Canal, a rocket launch, or a lifetime of wedded bliss.
Why She Looks at Your Ring Finger
Because it knows and tells all. University of Liverpool researcher John Manning has determined that the size of a man's ring finger is related to how much testosterone he received in the womb. That's true of your penis, as well. The more T, the longer they grow. It's interesting to note that your digital symbol of virility is also the finger on which she slips the golden shackle during the wedding ceremony.
Why You Must Watch Your T-Levels
Women are more predisposed (in brain structure and hormone secretions) to settle down and start a family than you are. But committing to family life is easier for men who have lower testosterone levels. A study of more than 4,000 men found that men with high testosterone levels were 43 percent more likely to get divorced and 38 percent more likely to have extramarital affairs than men with less of the hormone.
Guys with high levels were also 50 percent less likely to marry in the first place. Men with the least testosterone were more likely to get and stay married, maybe because lower testosterone levels make men more cooperative. If you're too cooperative for your own good, build some muscle: It will increase testosterone levels over time. You can even coordinate dating with workouts. A study at Baylor University determined that testosterone levels were highest 48 hours after weight lifting.
Why You Should Marry After 25
Quite simply, a man's brain is incomplete before then. Sure, his sexual organs are all present and accounted for, but his prefrontal cortex (PFC) is still developing. Which is too bad, because that's the part of his brain that's involved in judgment, impulse control, organization, planning, forethought, and learning from mistakes. And it won't be fully developed until he's 25.
Why Beauties Make You Stupid
You act like a goof with the Hooters waitress, leaving a tip that doubles the bar bill. But why? Beautiful women cause a man's limbic system (the amygdala and other brain-stem structures, which are in charge of emotion) to fire up at the same time that his PFC checks out, leaving the judgment area vacant. Las Vegas casinos hire beautiful cocktail waitresses, dress them in low-cut tops and miniskirts, and have them pass out free alcohol—all of which encourages men's self-control to take the day trip to Hoover Dam. No wonder the house has the edge.
How You Can Get the Edge Back
When faced with the dilemma of a bad bet on a beautiful woman, remember that her beauty is fleeting, but a bad decision can last a lifetime. It's a very PFC sentiment, in fact.
Why You Love Porn
Guys aren't shallow; it's just that the visual parts of their brains are strong and tend to twang their emotions. Using sophisticated imaging equipment, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that the amygdala, which controls emotions and motivation, is much more activated in men than in women when they view sexual material for 30 minutes, even though both sexes report similar levels of interest.
This may be one of the reasons men are much more captivated by pornography than women: For men, it's not just porn, it's personal. Back in the real world, women hijack men's brains by appealing to their strong visual sense. But women can take in a guy's visuals and think, Yeah, but how much does he have in his 401(k)? To avoid the tyranny of the visual, you need to kick-start your responsible prefrontal cortex by asking yourself, What's my goal in a relationship? That can divert you from those short-term, erotic visions.
How Your Nose Triggers an Erection
There's a direct connection between the olfactory bulb, at the top of your nose, and the septal area, the arousal center of your brain. When cells in your nose are stimulated, they send signals to your libido (and hers) to stand up and pay attention. You know what smells turn you on—the evidence is obvious.
As for her, a study at the University of California at Berkeley found that women become aroused when exposed to a chemical called 4.16-androstadien-3-one (AND). The good news? AND occurs naturally in men's sweat, hair, and skin. Take her someplace cold on your date—the favorite jacket or sweater you'll conveniently have on hand to lend her should be loaded with the stuff.
Why You Lose Your Erection in Bed
Maybe little Willie is nervous during his big moment onstage. Performance anxiety is about the fear of being judged or not living up to expectations. The body is programmed to see anxiety as a threat, and the nervous system sets up the fight-or-flight response, sending out chemicals to protect us: Our heart races, muscles tense, and blood is shunted from our hands, feet, and penis to the large muscles of the shoulders and hips so we can fight or run away. That's not such a good strategy in bed, however.
Why You Can Be Addicted to Love
As with obsessive-compulsive disorder, love decreases brain levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood and flexibility. Low serotonin means you can get stuck on ideas—you become obsessed. Which is just fine, unless she suddenly dumps you. That's when the short supply of serotonin makes you vulnerable to depression. In extreme cases, the serotonin shortage can trigger obsessive behaviors, such as exhibiting extreme jealousy or even stalking.
To get those serotonin levels back up before the police come, try exercising more, eating more carbs, and generally distracting your lonesome thoughts. (Road trip!) All of them will boost your serotonin levels.
Why Touch Strengthens the Bond
Oxytocin is your brain's love juice: the bonding and attachment hormone. When you feel connected, empathic, in love, the oxytocin jets are spurting. Women have naturally higher levels of this chemical: It boosts nonsexual bonding between a mother and newborn, and it's responsible for putting babies to sleep after they nurse.
Though both men and women secrete an extra jolt of oxytocin during orgasm, we men go through a 500 percent surge—which explains our special talent for falling asleep immediately after sex. If she complains that she doesn't feel close enough, ask for her help readjusting your oxytocin levels.
Why Women are the Dumpers
Women have greater access to the more negative right side of the brain, one of the reasons they suffer from depression twice as much as men. The right hemisphere also allows women to see the gestalt, or big picture, of relationships, so they tend to know before men when a relationship is not working out.
Where the Thrill Goes
Dopamine and PEA—your powerful attraction chemicals—are strong stuff. But, as with any high, it can't last. Intense feelings of euphoria and obsession start to wane. You again wonder what's been going on in the NFL or whether you should see your buddies. As you come down off the hard stuff, you may actually go through withdrawal, missing the high of the attraction stage.
How to Get the Love Buzz Back
You have a choice to make. Either you go right out and chase that high (and some comely tail) again, or you settle into the longer-term buzz of a committed relationship. Oxytocin and serotonin are your two best chemical friends for the drive toward your 25th wedding anniversary. They're not as exciting to the brain as the attraction chemicals, but they have longer-lasting effects. So you can trade the dizzying high for a sustainable one.
Of course, if you're really smart, you can inject the hot stuff back into any love relationship. Take her away on a trip, spoil her rotten with La Perla lingerie, send her flowers with a dirty note attached, and the little dopamine chemicals come back out and play. Just like the night you met her.
What Makes Your Eye Wander
Blame vasopressin. This hormone is involved in regulating sexual persistence, assertiveness, dominance, and territorial marking. And men have lots of it, naturally. In male voles (night-loving rodents, which probably describes you perfectly), the levels of vasopressin seem to make the difference between stay-at-home dads and one-night-stand artists. Your hormone levels are probably set at the genetics factory, but the more you give in to vasopressin, the more of it you produce. It's your choice.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Only your prefrontal cortex knows for sure. Men who have healthy activity in their PFCs have greater empathy, can focus for longer periods of time, and tend to make better husbands. Men who have overactive PFCs tend to be obsessive, oppositional, and argumentative. This can turn them into major chick repellents.
Likewise, men who have low activity in the PFC tend to be impulsive (more vulnerable to affairs), easily distracted (lousier at listening), easily bored (more "business" trips to Vegas), and constantly scamming for that attraction high (more given to looking for love in all the wrong places). To keep your PFC firing on all cylinders, protect it from injury, which can come from using too much alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. Better still, exercise your PFC by setting goals and following through on them.
Why the Guys in Bands Get Lucky
In a study in Finland, eight male volunteers underwent brain scans while they were having orgasms. (Must have been a fun study.) Overall bloodflow in the brain decreased during orgasm, but it skyrocketed in the right prefrontal cortex—as it does in creative people (like musicians) when they do their creative thing. Now, exactly why did you give up those guitar lessons?
Why She Moans During an Orgasm
It almost certainly doesn't have anything to do with you. In addition to its duties as an orgasm assistant, the right hemisphere has also been called the "God" area of the brain. When scientists stimulate the right hemisphere, their subjects have more religious or spiritual experiences. So it's not too much of a leap to guess that when she moans "Oh, God" in the throes of sexual ecstasy, she may be connecting pleasure to a deeper spiritual place in her brain. Music and dancing can jumpstart the right hemisphere, which means the nuns at your high school were right to discourage it.
Why Her Orgasms are Like Paxil
Sexual climax has an antidepressant effect. Orgasms cause intense activity in the deep emotional parts of the brain, which then settle down when the sex is over. Antidepressants calm the same part of the brain. This calming effect may be why people who regularly have sex experience less depression.
Why It's Better if She Swallows
Prostaglandins, fatty acids found in semen, are absorbed by the vagina and may have a role in modulating female hormones and moods. I also feel duty-bound to report that women who perform oral sex on their mates are less likely to suffer from preeclampsia, a condition that causes a dangerous spike in women's blood pressure during pregnancy. Plus, sperm carries TGFbeta, a molecule that can boost the activities of her natural killer cells, which attack the rogue cells that give rise to tumors. Don't make her beg. Offer.
Why a Foot Massage is Foreplay
When you rub the arch of her right foot, you affect her about 30 inches higher, and a little to the left. The foot-sensation area of the brain is next door to the clitoral (and penile) region, which may be a big reason that women are so focused on shoes—yours and hers.
Carrie Bradshaw was on again, off again with any number of men, but her Manolos endured. And perhaps now we know why Imelda sought solace in 1,060 pairs of shoes. But even if you're not a Filipino dictator, you can make this work for you.
"There are 36,000 nerve endings in the foot," says Kathleen Miller-Read, a massage therapist and spokeswoman for the American Massage Therapy Association. "By exploring these, you can find sore spots all over the body."
If your girlfriend has her feet crammed in high heels all day, she's bound to have aching toes and a sore back. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently pull, twist, and rub below her toes. For her back, focus on the heel of her foot, moving your knuckles in a circular motion all over the heel. She'll let you know when it's working.
Where Your Kinkiness Come From
Weird sexual fetishes or fantasies are brain symptoms. They fall into the category of impulsive-compulsive disorders: impulsive when you can't control the behavior and compulsive when, even though you may want to, you can't stop.
A person who's prone to voyeurism, exhibitionism, bestiality, transvestism, S and M, or infantilism (deriving sexual pleasure from being treated like a baby) often has too much activity in the emotional parts of the brain, as we see in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorders, and too little activity in the PFC, or judgment center. A study of 26 men with unusual sexual fantasies found that using medications to balance these two areas of the brain gave the men significant relief. But then, so did wearing an adult diaper and being handed a rattle. You can't tell with some people.
How to Control Your Brain
Even though men are programmed to look at beautiful women and populate the earth, the human brain, especially the prefrontal cortex, has evolved to the point where, with proper training, we can be thoughtful, goal oriented, and focused on our families. You are not a rodent, doomed to follow the pattern of hormone receptors in your brain. Ask yourself: What are my goals for my relationships? Stay focused on loving and protecting the people in your life, and it's mind over what really matters.
By martinuptonwells, 09-Nov-2013 12:19:00
This guideline covers the tests, treatment, care and support that men who have suspected or diagnosed prostate cancer should be offered. It does not specifically look at the care of men with rare cancers of the prostate (for example, small-cell carcinoma and rhabdomyosarcoma).
By martinuptonwells, 09-Nov-2013 12:03:00
The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of sexual performance expectations for adult men with and without erectile dysfunction (ED) and how masculinity ideology and age likely affect perceptions of sexual performance. A convenience sample of men age 50 and older (N = 132) completed questionnaires addressing their physical and sexual health, traditional masculinity ideology, and attitudes about sexuality and aging. A Sexual Performance Beliefs Scale that addresses older men was developed. H1: Results indicate that middle-aged and older men disavowed the importance of sexual performance as a defining feature of masculinity, yet men with ED less strongly rejected the principle that ED undermines performative masculinity, and men with ED and using oral ED medication were even less likely to disagree with the maxim that ED equals troubled masculinity. H2: The hypothesized relationship between age and sexual performance beliefs was not supported. H3: Men endorsing a traditional masculinity ideology predictably endorsed the principle that sexual performance signifies masculinity. These findings are discussed in terms of adult men’s sexuality and possible clinical implications.
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 14(3), Jul 2013, 271-280
Thompson Jr., Edward H.; Barnes, Kaitlyn
By martinuptonwells, 09-Nov-2013 12:00:00
This study explored the experiences of men living with sexual dysfunction as a consequence of having been treated for prostate cancer. An ethnoculturally diverse sample of 18 men (14 heterosexual, and four homosexual) participated in a series of four to five in-depth interviews. These one-on-one interviews were designed to elicit information pertaining to their beliefs, values and performances regarding masculinity vis-a-vis prostate cancer and its treatment. Interview transcripts were analyzed using the grounded theory method. The core category of ‘Preserving Manhood’ incorporated five major themes: enhancing the odds; disrupting a core performance; baring an invisible stigma; effortful-mechanical sex; and working around the loss. We conclude that men’s performances of sexuality and masculinity were highly interwoven; that loss of sexual functioning constituted a focal disruption for participants; and in some instances, posed a significant threat to their masculine identities.
J Health Psychol May 2002 vol. 7 no. 3 303-316
Karen D. Fergus - Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Canada, email@example.com
Ross E. Gray - Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Canada
Margaret I. Fitch - Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Canada
By martinuptonwells, 06-Nov-2013 09:31:00
I’m Andrew, 53. I’m not gay even though people might think I’m gay. My identity is bi not gay.
I’m a professional IT consultant. I work all over the UK and sometimes I get taken abroad so I miss some of the meetings here at Out with Prostate Cancer because I was going to arrive and then suddenly I end up being in Sydney, Australia.
Educated by the Christian Brothers many years ago and generally plodded through life and that’s what I am.
So what is life like as a bisexual, hmmmm for the last 40, 50 years I sort of identified or tried to identify what I was or what I was developing into, it’s quite difficult because you spend your time, I feel, living in this other world, especially when you’re a bi man who’s not out because most of your time you’re on guard not to disclose to the rest of the world who you really are and you have a very close knit community that you actually trust to be yourself, to let your guards down.
I’ve had a fabulous life. I mean you get all kinds of aspersions made about you about well no, you’re gay, no, you’re straight. Well no I’m not, I’m bi and the great thing about this is you sort of go with the flow. Back in my youth, I did what any Catholic was meant to do, was to go and get married and have children and to get the family name carried on and to procreate and whatever.
I loved my wife. I’m still married, I still live with my kids but over time, that sort of bond, and I don’t know whether lots of people, married guys have this but it sort of, the closeness, the emotion sort of vanishes and it’s almost like you’re living as brother and sister.
But the thing about being bi is you are attracted to other sexes if you know what I mean and people talk about this bi spectrum. So it’s being sort of from being heterosexual going right through to gay but you never get to either end and you sort of float between this. So over the years, this floating between has meant that because I didn’t have the emotional relationship in my marriage, my emotional relationships grew in my bi life and I became to enjoy all that side of my life over the years which was great.
I wasn’t promiscuous, I did what I think most bi and probably a lot of gay people do, so I’d drive past the odd lay-by and see all these empty cars and some woods and think “oh yes, something’s going on in there!” I’m up for that! But over the years I developed some really close relationships with people I met working around the UK and funnily enough there are other bi guys, married guys, all looking for something called… I don’t know if you know about closed loop relationships and some American concept where you can actually meet and have a meaningful relationship with another bloke who’s likeminded like yourself and not interfere with that heterosexual married side of things because really, you still love your other partner if you know what I mean but you keep the two apart because you don’t want to hurt anyone or hurt those around you and it may be the way you grow up but that’s the mould you get into.
So I’ve had an absolutely fantastic time in, as I say, meeting people, enjoying things and because I work all around the place, I could go to clubs. So when I’m at home I sit in the home life but I mean all my family know I’m a party animal and remember, I met my wife in Liverpool and we used to go to gay bars and gay clubs. So I mean maybe my wife knew that I was bi or probably thought she’d married a gay man. I don’t know but yeah, I do anything that anyone sort of does in my situation and I’ve always been careful all my life. So yeah, I go and get regular check-ups, always safe sex if sex was involved but sex has never been the be all and end all for me. But it was a great part of my life.
With my prostate cancer last year, 2012, we have a regular free “well man” check at the company I work for, they were doing this PSA testing which I didn’t have a clue about but it was free and if it’s free and it’s meant to be good for you you go and do this thing. And yeah, so I didn’t think anything much about this so I went and had this PSA test and a few weeks later a letter pops through the letterbox telling me to go and see my GP or if you can’t get an appointment with your GP urgently, we can get a private appointment for you elsewhere.
So to cut a long story short, I went to my doctor and it was a locum doctor. I remember as a bi guy I thought oh, she’s quite tasty for a 52-year-old, hot-blooded guy and I thought she only looks about 21/22 but she must be older because she’s a qualified doctor. But she was really good and she referred me immediately to the hospital even though she didn’t know too much and I told her that I ‘googled’ what was in this letter and she should be referring me anyway. So off to hospital, met a consultant in the hospital, didn’t ask me anything about my sexuality. Didn’t even ask me anything about my family or anything and actually, it didn’t sort of come into the conversations.
It was you’ve got this score (PSA), I want to do another DRE so I assumed the foetal position and he does it again and yeah, I can’t feel anything here but because of these scores and your risk factors, because he did ask me about my father and my father had had an aggressive form of this cancer at what he called a younger age but I thought it was old actually. So no offence to anyone, I’m not being ageist but it was as if it was all a whirlwind over a few weeks.
Suddenly I’d gone from a letter in the post to a DRE to another PSA test to we need to biopsy you and there was nothing about “do you want a biopsy?”, it was we are going to do a biopsy and then I had the biopsy and then I remember the biopsy, the results of that quite vividly. Again, no talking about anything else, just it was as if I was going through steps and I remember a friend of mine, who lives up near the Welsh border, she’s on an MDT team and I rang her for a little bit of advice.
It’s funny that because I didn’t get any advice or support from my family. It was if my wife knew all this was going on but maybe it was because that emotional side had gone and this got shut out. The fact that this could be leading to cancer, it really didn’t impact her or the rest because when all this went on, I remember when I got the results of the biopsy and I was sat in the car park at the hospital in tears and I rang them because no one went to support me at the hospital. I was actually on my own. Sorry . . . . I was sat on my own in the car park for an hour and a half and I couldn’t move.
They (my family) were all in Nottingham at a horse show and no one could be with me and I just cracked up. I drove home, I was on my own at the house for two days ‘til the family came home, no one was there. I didn’t have anyone to speak to and I knew I’d been diagnosed with cancer and the thing with cancer, cancer had always scared me because my mother had it, my sister died of it after fighting it for 10 years.
I smoked 30 a day until six years ago and I gave up smoking because I had this fear that I’d get lung cancer and I climbed mountains, I went to the gym, I thought I was so healthy and there was nothing wrong with me and then suddenly, I had this thing that my dad had and I’d blocked it out of my mind about my father. I’ve read so much more now and I now understand the pain he was going through when he died and I never wanted to go through that and this, of course this happened to me.
What it’s like to be a bisexual man and have prostate cancer? It’s quite interesting because I want to tell people I’m bisexual but every time I go into a meeting with the medical teams, with the NHS and then with my private consultant, somehow the conversations never steer towards my sexual identity. They assume that he’s Andrew, he’s married, he’s got kids, he’s straight.
If I was a single bloke going in, maybe they might have said do you have a partner? So do you have a girlfriend or do you have a partner, are you gay? They don’t. They just automatically assume that I’m straight so we never get to have that conversation.
When I had to choose my (cancer) treatment, I moved from the NHS because I was being railroaded and they weren’t very satisfactory in what they were doing; I had BUPA cover so I jumped to private and BUPA said to me why didn’t you come to us in the first place, we’d have sorted this for you.
Maybe that was a mistake I made because of the trauma of it all because I thought I was paying for my national health all my life, I wanted some payback from them. Not I’m paying X amount privately so let’s go and use that however, even going private with who I’d say were the best urologists in the UK because I’d already made my mind up when going private what treatment I was going to have, and maybe I was very naïve at the time but a friend of mine was diagnosed at exactly the same time and he chose brachytherapy. I talked to him about it and I didn’t like his decision tree on how he went down that and my decision tree was quite clear. I was going to get rid of this but when I had that first meeting with the consultant and we went through everything and he went through the options and he’s fairly good, it’s get rid of the cancer, let’s sort out the incontinence and then we’ll worry about the erectile dysfunction. The third one.
Well in his questioning it was “do you want to have kids?” And my wife was there and this was something else, I never had the opportunity at that point to be alone with him. It’s the first and only time my wife had been with me with the consultant in one of these visits but it was a major visit and it was well, we don’t want any more kids. Do you have an active sex life? Is your sex life fine and of course, you look at each other knowing damn well it’s not fine because you haven’t had sex for over 20 years but both of you go “yeah, it’s okay”. But in the back of my mind as the truthful Catholic, I can say yes, it is okay actually because I might be having a relationship with my wife but I’m having bisexual relationships with men. So I’m good for this and by the way, I have sex nearly every day, about three times a week but yes, I love my sex life. So that gives him a tick in the box. He doesn’t take you to one side and say by the way, are you having any affairs? Is there anything else in your sex life I need to know about? He just automatically assumes you’re a heterosexual couple in here and wife’s supporting the bloke. So that is a major assumption they actually make and of course, because you’re not actually out and it’s a major step to actually talk to these people about your sexuality.
I’ll tell you my case: my GP doesn’t even know that I’m bi. All my “check-ups” over the years have taken place down in the South of the country because I can’t trust the medical people in my own surgery because I have this fear about being ‘outed’ and the family being destroyed by someone we know in the surgery recognising my name and seeing the medical records and then can’t keep their mouths shut and also being in IT, I’m familiar with what goes on in the NHS about sharing of information.
So the (GUM) clinic I go to at the Royal Berkshire, that’s in Reading, they guarantee that their sexual health records are not connected to the main hospital. They guarantee that in everything they give you so I have all my check-ups down there. So it’s a major step for me to talk about this with people.
But I would say my last visit, my last consultation with my private (urology) consultant, I actually sat there and I was geared up to say to him Alan, I’m bi. I need to talk to you about this and he changed the subject. He totally changed the subject and I walked out of the meeting half an hour later and I was like oh my god, 30 minutes have gone past, the consultation and I was going to go in to him and tell him listen, I need to talk to you seriously about this erectile business, of this treatment. I’ve walked out and I’ve not even talked about it at all.
I mean my advice to the medical profession and to others who are going through this (cancer) journey, this path that we have around prostate cancer, before you as the individual, the guy who’s been diagnosed with this, before you make your decisions, make sure you’re open and honest with someone from the medical profession, even if it means saying to them I need a private word with you. Pick the phone up before you go with your wife or your girlfriend or even if you’re going on your own, make a point of getting them on their own and talking to them.
Talk about the trust, then try and be open and honest with them and have that discussion around your bisexuality with them because I tell you, I’m seeing my (urology) guy again at the end of this month and I’m going to take time out to speak to him about that. Also, a word about “medical” people: you don’t know what you’re talking about. When you give advice, yes, you can use your knives and you’re fabulous with your drugs, your radiotherapy and your chemotherapy but unless you’ve been through this you’ve got no idea and I’ve read several books now from urologists in the US who have been through this.
There is a great book which says ‘dead men don’t have sex’ which is quite an interesting thing because now, the way I feel, and looking back at that book that I read as part of my decision process, I’m now thinking that that guy obviously couldn’t have been having sex at the time anyway and he was definitely not bi or gay because otherwise, he wouldn’t have come to the decision he’s come to because I tell you what, that disconnect between mind and your cock and the fact that they don’t fit together and something that you, Martin, said at one of the (support group) sessions around not having horny thoughts, it’s like this has to be joined up for the hornyness to be there because it ain’t there.
And the medical guys, when you sit down and say “don’t worry, don’t worry about not having ejaculations because that doesn’t matter, you can still have an orgasm” but it’s not the same. Feelings are different. Sometimes it’s like woo, Jesus, never had that even when I did get erections and wow, it’s like a totally different feeling but there’s so much more that’s missing, that’s not there and the drugs can’t do it. And you’re constantly thinking when’s this going to come back? Is it ever going to come back? And then you sit there, I spoke to you (Martin) before this meeting and I said about how I got depressed the other week. I get depressed a lot now because I spend a lot of time away from home just sitting in hotels and it gives me time to think and I do get depressed and the medical people, you don’t treat this. You don’t treat the depression, you don’t really understand how it affects us internally.
I’ve spoken to my GP about what ED facilities there are in Shropshire? There’s nothing. When I went to Shrewsbury Hospital the other month, I talked to the consultant then or registrar who wasn’t interested in me because I’d gone private and I said what (ED) facilities are there in here? What counselling is available for guys with ED? Nothing. It’s you’ve got a prescription, take some of the Cialis, you’re on the dailies, you’ve got those, you’ve got a pump, if you want the MUSE, you can have the MUSE but the mental side of things, they don’t do anything and they really don’t understand how scarred we become after these treatments. Your whole life has changed and you need help to piece it back together again and you don’t get that help and they don’t understand.
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