By contributor
updated 12/25/2008 4:00:24 AM ET 2008-12-25T09:00:24

Could lingering grief be the reason he can’t get busy with a new woman? Or does he just need a once-over by a good urologist? Can a woman with a disease that interferes with sex find a fulfilling relationship after divorce? Got a question? E-mail us .

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Q: My fiancé can be stimulated orally and by stroking. But the moment we think he is ready for penetration, he deflates again. Could this be related to his loyalty to his departed spouse, or should he look into a urologist? He tried Levitra. Maybe he should try Viagra?

A: If “departed” means “dead,” and not “took off in his brand-new Lexus to take up with a traveling rodeo clown,” then, yes, his seeming inability to maintain an erection for penetration could be related. Switching from one erectile dysfunction drug to another may not help since they all work in roughly the same way. Besides, the problem does not seem to be with your man’s piping.

When French doctors studied a small group of 26 erectile dysfunction patients and asked them about recent life events, the patients, as opposed to a control group of 20 other men, “showed a much greater number of life events during the year prior to the onset of erectile disorders. ... A detailed analysis of this peak of events revealed that the most common events were those of an emotional nature and those involving a loss or bereavement.”

Even if he is not still grieving for his wife, he may have complicated feelings about intercourse with you (maybe feelings of “anxiety” rather than “loyalty”). Your situation would seem to be perfect for a combination therapy of both psychological counseling and medication. Last month, in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a Brazilian team analyzed available literature and found that “men randomized to receive psychotherapy plus sildenafil (Viagra) showed significant improvement of ED.”

So yes, your man ought to visit a urologist and ask that urologist if, perhaps, some form of counseling might be in order.      

Q: I am in a new relationship. We have made love twice, and he does not look at me when we have sex. Foreplay is minimal. I have not had a chance to see his … well, you know. He’s a nice man and we have a lot of fun together, but I need more in bed. My last guy was wonderful and I find myself comparing.

A: We here at Sexploration have spent the past two hours trying to pantomime how you two have sex. He does not look at you, and you have not seen his penis. (“His … well, you know”? Really? You’re allowed to say the word.) I mean, I know it’s possible in theory, like the existence of those tachyons from “Star Trek,” but hard to imagine.

Anyway, as for boosting the foreplay quotient, you are going to have to do what every new couple has to do: find a rhythm and style that works best for this new entity you are creating rather than wishing he was like the “last guy.” That means you are going to have to talk to each other. This is the best part of a new relationship, paddling into terra incognita and making new discoveries. So be his native guide, tell him what you want, and show him how to get there. You might begin by turning on the lights.

Q: I am just getting back into dating after 40 years of marriage. What is the rule of thumb these days for how long one dates before having sex? This seems to be a stumbling block for me.

A: How’d you do it 40 years ago? That was 1968. “Hair” was on Broadway, Pattie Boyd was in India with the Beatles, and Jane Fonda was wearing that sexy space-chick outfit in “Barbarella.” Dating rules? Pshaw!

As far as I can tell from Sexploration readers, the only dating rules are the ones you and the person in question choose for yourselves. Some people have sex on the first date, some wait until marriage and some place a Craigslist ad. If I were you, and I’m not, I’d be nice, friendly, open, caring, attentive and romantic. I’d lean in for a kiss on the first date and see what happens. Be brave, Excelsior!

Q: I am 50 years old and in generally good health. I have a low sex drive, like many women my age. I also have had lichen sclerosus for about three years. I have pain with vaginal intercourse. Otherwise I have normal arousal and orgasm. My husband and I were not able to find a way to have intercourse that was satisfactory for him given my limitations. We have separated and he found a very satisfactory young girlfriend. Is it even worthwhile for me to consider another relationship with a man? I don’t want to revisit the guilt and humiliation of being inadequate in bed again. Are there men who would consider a relationship with someone with my limitations? Are there couples who have a happy marital relationship despite this type of limitation?

A: We are going to do something different this time around. In the past ( including a recent column featuring a question about lichen sclerosus ), we referred correspondents to resources. This time, Sexploration would like to hear from hearing from couples and individuals who have successfully dealt with a sexually interfering disease or disability. How do you manage? Is it worthwhile? How about dating? When do you discuss such your condition? How do you combat feelings of inadequacy? What would YOU say to this woman? Share your words of wisdom.

Brian Alexander is the author of the new book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction."

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