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Eros and Aging - Page 2

He'd experienced a similar problem once before, during his divorce 10 years ago. But when he met Cynthia in his mid-forties, the romantic love, idealization, and passionate sex recharged his batteries, and erections clipped along with the same dependable regularity that they had previously.

His distress over the renewal of his erectile difficulty was made even worse when Cynthia wondered out loud if it meant that he didn't love her or wasn't attracted to her anymore. So he began working harder to get hard, in a determined effort to show his wife that he found her to be the same sexy dish he always had. However, the attempt to will a great sexual performance brought a negative cycle of anticipatory anxiety, tense intercourse, more "failures," increased frustration, embarrassment, and, finally, avoidance of the whole miserable business. For Bill, sex was a pass-fail exam, and he was on the wrong side of the grading curve.

Believing, as many American men do, that a little pill would do the trick, Bill went alone to his internist to get some Viagra. His doctor made sure he had no systemic medical problems and then prescribed the medication without recommending any additional medical, psychological, relational, or sexual interventions. The doctor assumed that the pill, all by itself, would bring back the frisky, confident potency Bill had enjoyed earlier in life.

In fact, Viagra did improve Bill's erections, and he and Cynthia resumed intercourse. But the results were oddly disappointing. Because he wasn't entirely sure of the longevity of his new chemically-induced erection, he was in an anxious "use it or lose it" mode, and rushed to intercourse as soon as he got aroused. Good-sport Cynthia didn't want to add to his anxiety, so she didn't object to the speediness of the proceedings, but she found penetration, if not painful, at least uncomfortable when her body hadn't had time to "get into it."

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