Web Exclusive: An Excerpt from "Conquer Prostate Cancer"

In an excerpt from his book "CONQUER PROSTATE CANCER: How Medicine, Faith, Love and Sex Can Renew Your Life," Rabbi Edgar Weinsberg talks about his visit to a sex therapist and the intimacy that resulted. 

Even before I first saw urologist Dr. Jonathan Jones, to begin my early-stage, localized prostate cancer treatment, I suffered from occasional impotence and a lowered libido. This was due to medical conditions such as prostatitis, an enlarged benign prostate (BPH), and diabetes. My libido had also been diminished because my wife, Yvonne, herself had to contend with severe, ongoing pain and I didn’t want to impose on her with sexual advances. She suffered from severe spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Consequently, after reviewing my options for prostate cancer treatment, I nervously asked the doctor if he knew of a sex therapist. What my wife and I needed to know is how we could function more effectively in bed, despite our current maladies, even before finalizing which procedure was most suitable to eradicate the prostate cancer. 

Dr. Jones indicated that a sex therapist's guidance was a long shot. He voiced his doubts that it would make any difference for us. Instead he stressed that, apart from the prostate cancer, my impotence might be caused by any or all of the medical factors I’ve described. He referred especially to my neuropathy, secondary to diabetes, with accompanying depression, and he added that my medications themselves might have diminished my sex drive. 

After further thought - maybe it was that pleading look on my face - Dr. Jones referred us to a noted sexologist at St. Petersburg Hospital, Dr. Rhonda Levine. She was an experienced clinician, whose views on sex education and practices have appeared in local St. Petersburg newspapers and television. "She might be of help," opined the urologist. "After all," he added, "While a man has an orgasm in his pelvic area, sex starts in the mind.”

Dr. Rhonda Levine, the sex therapist, met with us three times. Each session lasted two hours and cost three hundred dollars, but my wife and I gratefully shelled out this fee at our own expense. We had no choice in the matter since our health plans did not cover issues like intimate relations. What health insurance company anywhere would deign to pay for wholesome conversations that might lead to less stressful and more fulfilling sex? 

When we met Dr. Levine, the first thing that struck me was that she met the stereotypical image of what a female sex therapist should be. She was a tall, sultry blonde, wearing a low-cut silk blouse matched by a colorful long skirt. She greeted us at the door in a professional yet lighthearted manner calculated to put us at ease. 

Dr. Levine was not just a sex therapist but a registered psychotherapist. For that reason, I told her at the outset that we were not coming to her in order to rehash our life histories. We had done enough of that during many prior years of individual and couple’s therapy.

In past sessions we had covered the impact of our respective parents’ divorces, being uprooted from our homes, adjusting to the untimely deaths of our fathers and other close relatives. Other sessions had dealt with anxieties that come with being a professional social worker and teacher like my wife, or a teacher, rabbi and community leader, like me. We acknowledged there had been various sources of stress in our lives. However, our sole purpose now was limited to one goal: we wanted short term therapy to discuss our intimate relationship and, more specifically, my sexual functioning and low libido. 

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