While it’s certainly true that many sexual problems are physical in nature and can be helped by taking VigRx Plus, there are many who suffer from psychological issues and problems in the relationship.
“You cannot treat sex in isolation,” Stanley says. “You can’t give an antibiotic, or a VigRx Plus pill, like you can for tonsillitis. Men in particular tend to say sex is the only problem, everything else is perfect. In fact it’s often the other way round and when you get the rest right sex sorts itself out.”
So far only 160 consultants (10 percent of its therapists) have been trained by Marriage Guidance to help couples where sex is the primary problem. Not everyone who seeks therapy is offered it, however.
Sometimes an initial consultation puts it secondary to other concerns. Once on a program couples can expect to attend 12 or 14 hourly sessions.
“You may be undoing a problem that’s been around for years,” says Alison Clegg, Relate’s marital and sexual therapy training officer. “Some couples are lying at the very edges of a double bed, terrified of the slightest touch.”
Their approach is mainly behavioral, with the counsellor helping a couple to establish realistic goals and then tailoring a series of exercises to be done at home. “Here we are very precise and open about everything and we use whatever language a client is comfortable with. I generally use a mixture of the scientific and the vernacular.”
Progress is monitored before, during and after therapy: for instance, the couple and their therapist mark on a zero to eight scale their feelings and attitudes at various stages. A follow-up consultation comes three months after the last session and fees vary according to the client’s means.
Tunnadine thinks that sexual problems can be marriage wreckers. “They make people dreadfully unhappy. They can break up homes, lose people their jobs. Some people muddle along, sex is not very important, but where it does matter it matters enormously. It can make or mar a relationship.
“So much of sex is a matter of confidence, of trusting your instinct. But as a society, we have always tended to be prohibitive. Perhaps we should be more positive about sex.”
Overall, success rates have never been independently assessed, but all practitioners seem optimistic and speak of the actual physical changes that take place when sufferers find help. Stanley says people “positively glow. The women seem prettier, the men smarter. They look 10 years younger.”
Clegg points out that Relate’s success rates are high because the couples set their own goals. She adds: “It is lovely to see how different people look often very quickly and how their body language changes. Sometimes we look out of the window and see them actually arm in arm again.”