Sexual healing

Check out any of the men’s magazines and you’ll see that in addition to ads for watches and cars, they’re filled with articles on how to pleasure a woman. Similarly, women’s magazines regularly take up the issue of how to please a man.

Which leads us to wonder:  Since when do men’s and women’s bodies require user manuals?

One answer may lie in their sexual fragility. About 43 percent of women say they are dissatisfied with their sex lives as some point, while 30 percent of men suffer from premature ejaculation. And that’s just for starters.

For those experiencing sexual dysfunction, there’s no need for embarrassment or despair. Help is available to men and women at The Andropause Center and The Medical Center for Female Sexuality respectively, under the medical direction of Dr. Michael A. Werner in Purchase.

“The most important message is that whatever the sexual problem, we can start tackling it,” says Werner, a urologist whose practice is limited to male infertility, sexual dysfunction, microsurgery and no-scalpel, no-needle vasectomy.

Werner – who has additional offices and laboratories in Norwalk, Manhattan and Clifton, N.J. – also reviews the charts of the female patients. They are treated by the professional staff of The Medical Center for Female Sexuality, led by clinical director Bat Sheva Marcus, who holds master’s degrees in social work and public health and a Ph.D. in human sexuality.

For all the complexity of human sexuality and all the modernity of Werner’s practice – it’s also home to the 15-year-old M.A.Z.E. Laboratories, providing state-of-the-art semen analysis, sperm processing, sperm banking and cord blood banking, what’s most striking about the Purchase office is its homeyness. The wood furnishings are complemented by stained-glass lamps, maps of New York state, National Geographics and globes.

Mosaic paintings, paperweights, botanical prints and neoclassical cameos fill the spaces. “Dr. Werner loves buying art,” Marcus says, nodding to two small vibrant canvases that he just acquired for her office.

The effect is both unexpected and relaxing. Adding to the welcoming atmosphere is Marcus herself, a warm, sympathetic woman in flowing floral silks and a complementary crocheted magenta bolero.

Noting that her name is derived from the biblical bathing beauty, Bathsheba, who had an adulterous affair with King David before becoming his wife (and the mother of King Solomon), Marcus says “that’s probably appropriate,” given the nature of her work. Such humor must go a long way in easing the anxiety of patients who seek out the office for everything from painful intercourse to infertility.

One of the most compelling problems engulfing couples is low libido, which often has underlying physical factors, including hormonal imbalance, age and stress. Marcus and her team work with women suffering from low desire to address the issues and assure them that they haven’t done anything wrong.

At the same time, she says, “I try to explain to women what it would feel like if their husbands didn’t want to have sex with them. They’d feel that they were not desirable. It would be incredibly painful.”

Indeed, Werner says it’s worse if a man has low libido, because of the norm and cultural expectations that men are simply hotter to trot.

“(The woman) feels so rejected,” he says.

Men with low libido may have to be put on testosterone, Werner says. But testosterone introduced into the body shuts down sperm production, so an alternate treatment may have to be used. It is a delicate physical balance.

But also a delicate psychological one as well, wrapped up in male and female ambivalence toward their own bodies and a misreading of sexual desire.

Men need to understand, Marcus says, that for women, “so much that happens sexually doesn’t just happen when (the couple) jumps into bed. Wooing a woman happens hours before.”

Women, on the other hand, must also realize that for men sex isn’t just physical either.

“Men want to have sex with their partners not to get off,” Marcus says. “They could just masturbate. They want to have sex, because that’s how they connect. Men are doers. That’s how they connect emotionally.”

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