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.
Sex Therapy: References
Sexual Dysfunction: Beyond the Brain-Body Connection. Developments and Trends in Sex Therapy. Meana M, Jones, Balon R (ed): Adv Psychosom Med. Basel, Karger, 2011, vol 31, pp 57â€“71Â (DOI: 10.1159/000328808)
Sex TherapyÂ in Female Sexual Dysfunction. LL Banner. Cancer and Sexual Health, 2011
Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals by Stephen B. Levine, Candace B. Risen, and Stanley E. Althof; 2010
Human Sexuality Today, VangoBooks (6th Edition) by Bruce M. King; 2008
Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, Fourth Edition (Principles & Practice of Sex Therapy) by Sandra R. Leiblum PhD; 2006
What’s new in sex therapy (CME). Althof SE. J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 1):5-13; quiz 14-5. Review.
Women’s sexual desire and arousal disorders. Brotto LA, Bitzer J, Laan E, Leiblum S, Luria M. J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 2):586-614. Review. Erratum in: J Sex Med. 2010 Feb;7(2 Pt 1):856.
Recommendations for the clinical evaluation of men and women with sexual dysfunction. Hatzichristou D, Rosen RC, Derogatis LR, Low WY, Meuleman EJ, Sadovsky R, Symonds T. J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 2):337-48. Review.
Psychological and interpersonal dimensions of sexual function and dysfunction; McCabe M, Althof SE, Assalian P, Chevret-Measson M, Leiblum SR, Simonelli C, Wylie K.; J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 2):327-36. Review.