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A selection from
cover of book

photo of Keith and Virginia Laken
with permission of
Ant Hill Press
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Looking Back
Libido and Arousal Are Two Different Things

Keith, on libido and arousal...

Little has changed since the early days of my recovery. My libido continues to function fine, but my arousal has never fully returned.

Thanks to Dr. Williams, I now see libido and arousal as two distinct but interrelated factors in the sexual formula.

When I speak of libido, I'm talking about the attraction or interest I have in sex—the "pretty-woman-makes-me-think-about-sex" reaction that Dr. Williams referred to. Arousal, on the other hand, is what I call the automatic response of my body to satisfy that interest. In this regard, I'm not the same as I was before my surgery.

In the past, if Gin would give me a sexy kiss in the moming, I would find myself getting more and more homy during theday - so much so that, by evening, I felt I had to have sex with her to satisfy my body's craving. But that's not how things work today.

These days, when Gin gives me that same kiss, I'll think about it during the day and then gladly make love with her that night - but not because of the pull of my body. Now I do so because I have sustained my interest by mentally anticipating the pleasure I will get and give.

I can't say, however, that I have no automatic arousal. If it has been a while since Gin and I have made love - like if one of us has been on a trip - I'll often get a weak "woody" during the night, or perhaps even during the day. But the drive is weak, and I can't sustain it. Within a few minutes, the erection subsides, and I'm likely to be distracted by other things.

I think I'll always miss this part of my sexual response. I liked the feeling that my body was on fire and being driven to satisfaction. I still, however, consider myself lucky. I'm able to develop arousal during foreplay, and can still experience great orgasms.

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