Sensate focus exercises
For prostate cancer problems
Sensate focus exercises may be a way to develop a new kind of
intimacy when erection problems occur after treatment for prostate cancer.
Originally developed by Masters & Johnson, these exercises are typically done in stages over a
period of several weeks.
How they start
One person starts as the “giver” or “toucher”
and the other partner is the “receiver.”
Partners then switch roles until they
reach stage 3, when there is mutual touching.
- Touching, stroking, or kissing occurs anywhere on the body, except
the breasts and genital areas
- The non-dominant hand is used (the hand a person does not write with)
- The giver starts with his/her partner’s face
- Time is taken to explore
every area of the body
Different types of touch may also be explored, including:
Even if a man gets an erection, do not have
intercourse or try to have an orgasm. After 20 to 30 minutes, or longer, switch roles. Practice this 2 to 3 times a week for
1 to 2 weeks
The goal is to experience the sensation of touching, not to try to arouse your partner.
- Starts with stage 1 touching
breast and genital areas are explored, but intercourse or touching
that leads to orgasm is not attempted
- After 20 to 30 minutes, roles are switched
- Practiced 2 to 3 times a week for 1 to 2 weeks before moving to stage 3
- Involves mutual touching,
beginning with stage 1 touching, and then progressing to stage 2
- Even if both partners become aroused, sexual
intercourse or engaging in touching that leads to orgasm is not attempted
- Practiced 2 to 3 times a week for 1 to 2 weeks before moving to stage 4
- Starts with touching exercises from stages 1 to 3
- Partners get into position for intercourse, but do not
- Partners rub their bodies against one
- After one or two sessions, partners move to partial or
full intercourse (if a man is able), or touching or other activities that lead to orgasm
Touching without talking
- Do not talk during sessions as it can be distracting
- Instead, they decide ahead of time what physical
cues they can give each other to indicate when certain touching feels
- For example, if more pressure is desired, the receiver can press down on the giver’s hand
- Or if touching is not pleasant, gently pulling a hand away is a signal
each session is over, partners can freely talk about what worked — or what
Sensate focus tips
- Schedule sessions when both partners are awake and alert, will not be pressed for time, or be interrupted
- Set the mood by lighting a candle, turning off the lights, or playing romantic music that both partners enjoy
- Decide who is the giver before each session
- Enhance touching sensations with scented oils, lotions, or massage cream
Back to sex after prostate cancer
Discovery Health. Sensate focus. http://health.discovery.com/centers/sex/sexpedia/sensate.html. Accessed January 27, 2009.
Stanford University. Sensate focus. http://womenshealth.stanford.edu/fsm/sensate_focus.html. Accessed January 27, 2009.
University of California. Sensate focus. http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/?article=a8bi. Accessed January 27, 2009.
University of Michigan Health System. Sensual touch.
http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/aha_touch_bha.htm. Accessed January
Always consult a medical professional.