Sex Therapy

Content written by Irwin Goldstein MD

Sex therapy may be helpful for some men with erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE). Sex therapy is a subspecialty area of clinical psychology in which the sex therapy counselor is trained and skilled in ways to optimize sexual function. There are two sex therapy professional organizations devoted to sex therapy: 1). The Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR); 2). American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists(AASECT).

Sex therapy is often utilized for men and, if appropriate, their partners with sexual health problems. Sex therapy can be provided in conjunction with biologic managements. Sex therapy provides a forum where psychologic and relationship contributions to sexual difficulties are identified and addressed. Sex therapy focuses on promoting effective communication about sex and learning techniques to improve sexual function.

Therapy usually begins with a careful and systematic assessment of the factors contributing to the current difficulty, including a review of past and present medical issues and a discussion about the man and his partner’s ethnic or cultural background, religious devoutness, sexual beliefs and expectations, and goals of therapy. Further, the therapist wants to learn as much as possible about the man’s past enjoyment and satisfaction with sensual or sexual activities, typical sexual response, and comfort with sexual behaviors, including oral-genital sex, fantasy or use of erotic media.

Sex therapy is typically brief, often no more than a dozen sessions. To be effective, a number of counseling sessions are required, usually weekly or every two weeks for several months. Various therapeutic options include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), permission and education, and at-home sensual exercises or self-exploration procedures.

The prognosis is better for a man who can recall past pleasurable sexual feelings or experiences and past or present loving relationships than if a man has never enjoyed sex and is solely seeking to comply with his partner’s demands for sex. Sexual desire may be rekindled and/or sexual problems may be resolved psychotherapeutically if a man has enjoyed sexual relations with a current partner and wants to recapture it.

Men with erectile difficulties often experience feelings of failure and loss of self-esteem that may be compounded by their partner’s disappointment or anger. Sex therapy may be useful in helping couples adjust to the various medical treatments that can be prescribed for erectile dysfunction. Spending time on sexual activities other than intercourse may be helpful. To reduce the man’s performance anxiety and the partner’s frustration, the partner may be encouraged to experience sexual pleasure that can be a pleasurable experience for both partners. A particularly useful recommendation is for the couple to take turns giving or receiving sexual pleasure.

Sex therapy is a proven erectile dysfunction treatment. Many men feel embarrassed discussing sexual concerns. Erectile dysfunction is a common health issue, and meeting with a specially trained sex therapist can play an important role in getting the best results from erectile dysfunction treatment.