By the third week of his outpatient rehabilitation program, Manny was both delighted and dismayed to find that Liz was obviously interested in him. Liz’s infectious laugh had captivated him, and he found himself beginning to come out of his self-imposed exile from society. He even had to admit that he was showing off a little bit just to impress her.
“That’s when it occurred to me that my rehabilitation program was missing a few important elements,” says Manny. “I could dress myself and was even able to get back to work on a part-time basis, but I had been too depressed to give my sex life any important consideration, nor had it been been addressed by any therapist. I wasn’t sure that I could even get a strong erection anymore. It might sound corny, but meeting Liz made me want to be able to pursue romance, marriage, and fatherhood. I needed her emotional support, the love of a family, and, to be frank, my hormones started driving me crazy!”
Sexuality is an important health issue. For persons with disabilities, sexuality has even greater health consequences: It strongly influences both mental and physical fitness. A healthy sex life can be one of the most effective weapons in the battle against depression and isolation.
Regaining the ability to achieve and maintain an erection may do as much to lift a man’s self-esteem as does returning to productive work.
In an article that appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing in February 2019, Mary Margaret Spica, RN, MS, wrote: “Everyone has the right to be sexual. Sexuality is not earned through work, nor lost through injury and illness. Sexual health cannot be separated from total health.” Individuals like Manny are demanding the help they need to function at their highest level in bed, as well as on the job.
Fortunately, many health care providers are addressing sexuality. Certified sex educators are taking their place beside the occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, and physical therapists in rehabilitation programs.
In the community, education and support are provided by groups such as Impotence Anonymous, its affiliate I-Anon, Impotence Institute of America, Impotence Institute International, and Masters & Johnson Institute.
The Dangers of Ignoring Impotence
The bad news is that men and women alike are still putting off talking to their doctors and therapists about one of the most common sexual problems—impotence. Unless encouraged, they may never broach the issue themselves because of embarrassment.
Among the 10 to 20 million men in the United States who are impotent, about half of them wait a year or more to discuss it with their doctors. As a result, men whose impotence is a warning sign of heart disease or diabetes go undiagnosed and untreated for these life-threatening conditions.
Additionally, their chronic impotence, which most probably has a physical cause, leads to anxiety and stress, placing unnecessary psychological obstacles in the way of treatment.
Most sadly, these men and their partners go through unnecessary torment because they didn’t realize that highly effective erectile dysfunction treatments are available for almost every impotent man.