Patients With Benefits
Meet the real sex surrogate from "The Sessions"
AIDS also took its toll on the practice; then Viagra and Cialis came along, promising a quick fix without the expense or embarrassment of interaction with a therapist. (“Look at those commercials. It looks like fun,” says Cohen Greene. “What I'm doing is work. This is therapy, intimacy, education.”) According to Vena Blanchard, DHS, president of the 30-year-old International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA), the only organization in the U.S. that trains and certifies surrogate partners, there are a scant 50 of them working in America today (down from 300 two decades ago), operating mostly in California.
The clientele has changed too. “The original model was men were the clients, women were the surrogates,” says Blanchard. “But now women have independent incomes and with that, a greater sense of entitlement about their sexuality.” Today, some 30 percent of those seeking treatment are women suffering from conditions such as anorgasmia, vaginismus (a spastic contraction of vaginal muscles that can be related to a fear of penetration), body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues, and what Blanchard calls, somewhat inelegantly, “the 100-pounder club”: “women who've lost 100 pounds but still feel as if they're unqualified for relationships and have been so deeply wounded they have trust issues.”
Up-to-date statistics about sex surrogacy are relatively scarce. According to IPSA, the practice has a success rate of 90 percent or greater in treating issues such as rapid ejaculation, compared with the 40 percent to 60 percent success rate of traditional sex ed and sex therapy reported by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
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