The doctor sat behind a beautiful handcrafted and lovingly restored early colonial Tasmanian Oak desk. Despite the news I felt he might have for me, the thought foremost in my mind was, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tidier desktop!” Seriously. I knew, but only realised later, it was a form of defence mechanism, thinking inanities rather than why I was in his office in the first place.
The doctor was particularly noteworthy with an especially loud, jolly disposition. In looks and in tone he reminded me vaguely of the Anglo-Scottish actor, star of the Doctor comedies, James Robertson Justice. Standing a smidgin above me, at 6’2”, and possessed of reddish brown hair with neatly trimmed beard and moustache, I wondered if he cultivated the look. At the very same time, I hoped to Hell he hadn’t been transferred from St Swithin’s!
It was 23 years ago, early afternoon. The doctor had been in surgery since 6:30am. He smiled at me, his best bedside manner evident – perhaps the easiest way to deliver awkward news – and spoke to me of potential problems following removal of my prostate. He explained possible causes, actual effects and likely after-issues in perfectly phrased terms, including the one I most feared: I may have some level of erectile dysfunction. This can vary from mild and short-term, all the way through to a permanent inability to ‘get it up.’ (My term, not his!)
Funniest thing, at that moment I lost all interest in his magnificent desk and how neat it was, even how much he reminded me of a great actor! I was then 53 years of age. My wife and I enjoyed a loving and active sexual relationship and here was James Robertson Justice telling me it could be all over. Finito… Finished… ****ed…!
Al right, I’ve kept it all pretty light up to this point but will get serious – a bit – for a while. Prostatectomy, or excision of the prostate gland, can have the effect of damaging nerves and blood vessels necessary for gaining an erection. This does not necessarily lead to loss of libido or to long-term erectile dysfunction. In fact, it is not uncommon for the penis to remain dormant for a couple of weeks after surgery but for it to ‘come good’ in time. It does not lead to an inevitable end of penile erection and penetration. Not always…
The urologist can recommend a number of aids, including inserts, vacuum pumps, rings and even, should all else fail, a saline pump device that inflates a couple of tubes surgically inserted into the penis to provide an artificial erection.
End of serious.
I had the saline pump device installed and part of the foreplay for my wife was to squeeze a delicate part of my anatomy, thus triggering the pump meant to inflate a stimulatory device for her benefit. It was never really successful and, to be brutally honest, proved extremely painful. Indeed, if that was post-prostate sex, it had knobs on. (Well, in a way it did, didn’t it?!) Back to the doctor, who found I’d developed a painful swelling (!) and infection because of the device. Surgical removal.
I had the most delightful wife, entirely understanding and, thankfully, more than a little adventurous. We discussed whats, whiches and wherefores before taking the bold step of visiting a sex shop. Oh God, what a lark that proved to be. We had some idea – or so we thought – what was available in such places but were only kidding ourselves. We knew nothing! The style, type and variety of aids that can be obtained is mind-boggling, from vibrators, strap-on dildos, penises, vulvas, all the way up to full-sized, ‘life-like’ dolls! Because each of us was possessed of a perverted sense of humour, we had a ball, laughing ourselves to tears.
There are many ways and means to a different but mutually satisfactory sex life, even without the capacity for penile penetration. I am not about to embark upon a chapter and verse description. I’ll leave that to your nice, healthy imaginations, decent lot that I know you to be. You wouldn’t subscribe to Starts At 60 otherwise. Would you…?
This is not a clinical article.
Men, please: If you have, or believe you have, prostate problems, make an early appointment to see your GP. That is essential. As with most things to do with health, the tests and procedures are impersonal and frequently intrusive. There is no need of embarrassment. Believe me, they ain’t going to see nothin’ they ain’t seen before!
Two other points of contact: