Sex Therapy

What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy is treatment for sexual problems. Sex can be a source of great pleasure, and couples often believe that good sex always happens. However, sexual problems are very common. When you have a sexual problem, it can cause stress.

Before you see a sex therapist, see your healthcare provider to check for medical problems that may be causing the sexual problem. Diabetes, high blood pressure, certain medicines, and some kinds of surgery may affect sexual performance and satisfaction. Alcohol use, drug abuse, or heavy smoking can also cause sexual problems.

When is it used?

Sex therapy may be useful if you:

  • Worry about your looks, your performance, and how often you have sex
  • Want more or less sex than your partner
  • Disagree about what sexual practices are OK or enjoyable
  • Do not know how to please each other sexually
  • Have trouble getting and keeping an erection
  • Have an orgasm sooner than you or your partner wishes during sex
  • Lack sexual desire or do not enjoy sex
  • Have trouble reaching orgasm

How does it work?

Sex therapy is a short-term form of counseling with a therapist. You may go to therapy every week or every other week.

As part of therapy, you may have homework, such as:

  • Reading books or watching videos about sexuality. Learning about sex and sexual behaviors or responses can be helpful.
  • Practicing touching exercises that help you learn to just relax and enjoy each other rather than feeling anxious or stressed about sex.
  • Improving your communication with your partner about what each of you find satisfying and pleasurable. Talking openly and supporting each other is a very important part of treating emotional causes of sexual problems.

How do I find a therapist?

Most states do not have laws that regulate sex therapists. Anyone can claim to be a sex therapist. It is important to seek treatment from a licensed professional. A sex therapist should be a mental healthcare provider such as a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, social worker, marriage or family therapist, or psychologist who has special training in sexual problems.

Ask questions and get referrals from people you know and trust. You could check with:

  • Your healthcare provider
  • Your health insurance company
  • Your employee assistance program (EAP) at work
  • Local mental health or human service agencies
  • Professional associations of psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-03-12
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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