Victoria CullenComment

Failure is Good : Sexual Re-navigation post-prostate cancer

Victoria CullenComment
Failure is Good : Sexual Re-navigation post-prostate cancer

Message for healthcare : Talk to your patients about the failure rates of sexual dysfunction treatments to increase long-term success.

Message for patients : Expect failure like you would in a new business venture. If it's not working, try another way and congratulate yourself on learning what doesn't work for you.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" - Thomas Edison.

There's a New Age cult around failure in the business world, the celebrating of screwing up. The notion behind it is valid. Most business ventures fail, but this is a good thing, it serves to highlight a strategy that did not work. So as long as you get back up, brush yourself off, start all over (and don't do that strategy) again, you will probably move in a direction towards success. Therefore, the common mantra in Startup Land is 'Fail Fast'.

There is evidence suggesting the same technique helps when re-navigating sex. After prostate cancer treatments, 90% of patients experience erectile dysfunction in the first year alone. This requires re-navigation of partnered and solo sex. However, there is very low adherence to sexual aids for ED treatment. A potential missing component is a conversation around the reality of these aids failing by the health professional.

Preliminary evidence suggests honest conversations around how treatments fail and the chances of failure early on leads to long-term adherence. The perpetuating 'viagra myth' is an Alice in Wonderland fantasy that one pill makes you larger. Effectiveness of viagra-type medication (PDE51s) is actually controlled by the extent of nerve damage during surgical procedure. Because reality contains far more failure than leading societal beliefs, this open honest conversation about failure right at the beginning is crucial.