Sexual Dysfunction, Sexual Arousal Disorder, Sexual Pain Disorders, and Mismatched Libido are all commonly treated with sex therapy. We will explore and define what each of these are and the treatments that are commonly used to manage and resolve them. A sex therapist is an expert at helping you, your marriage, or relationship get back on track to a healthy sexual connection. People commonly ask if sex therapy requires both partners to be present and the answer is no, a sex therapist can help you individually or your counseling can happen as a part of your marriage counseling or couples therapy. Let us begin with examining the various facets of intimacy.
Sexual Arousal Disorder
If you have long standing difficulties in sustaining or obtaining an erection, or in experiencing lubrication in and around the vagina, you may reach the diagnostic criteria for sexual arousal disorder. There are multiple causes physical for this issue, including hormonal changes, aging, disease, these all must be ruled out by a urologist, gynecologist, or PCP. After determining that there are no physical concerns to manage, a sex therapist can help you to manage unresolved sexual guilt or shame or relationship issues that may have precipitated sexual arousal disorder.
According to Medical Daily, human sexuality has a wide range of what is considered ‘normal’ – style of sex, sexual preference, and sexual frequency does vary significantly from couple to couple, and dysfunction isn’t diagnosed unless one person in the relationship identifies a divergent need from their partner. In fact, mismatched libido is one very common reason that a couple may seek sex therapy as a part of their couple’s therapy or marriage counseling. A normal and healthy sexual relationship can vary in frequency, anywhere , to once every other week can be considered normal depending upon age of the partners and individual preferences. Sex therapists can help the couple have a dialogue about sexual frequency preferences and prevent unwanted resentment from building around unmet sexual needs. By using counseling to create understanding and conversation focused on compromise, even mismatched libido can be navigated to ensure a healthy relationship.
This is a category of sexual disorder that prevents the couple from experiencing pleasure from sexual intimacy at any of the phases of the sexual response cycle. The sexual response cycle includes the excitement phase, plateau, orgasm, and resolution phase. Any of these phases can be disrupted resulting in sexual dysfunction. The most common form of sexual dysfunction is erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is often situational, meaning stress or performance anxiety causes a onetime inability of the phallus to develop or sustain an erection. How the individual manages that anxiety can lead to problems in the future, sometimes the anxiety of having a bout of ‘performance anxiety’ causes sexual avoidance in the future leading to long term erectile dysfunction. When long term erectile dysfunction causes an extended period of sexual avoidance, there can become a deep chasm of hurt and disappointment for both partners. The most common treatment for this is sensate focus. Your sex therapist will take you through a behaviorally-focused treatment program to resolve the anxiety-entrenched act of intimate experience. In other instances, erectile dysfunction can be a result of hormonal or other medical issues which will need to be ruled out by your urologist or PCP.
Sexual Pain Disorders
The most common of the sexual pain disorders are Dyspareunia and Vaginismus. These are often diagnosed by a gynecologist as the woman will seek medical treatment for the pain that she feels in her vaginal canal or external labia. After a gynecologist rules out endometriosis or other organic cause for the pain, the gynecologist will likely recommend a sex therapist to treat the painful intercourse. A common treatment method is the combined therapy of sensate focus as well as physical therapy to help the client relax the vaginal muscles and experience pleasure associated with sexual intimacy.
Medical Daily; Online Journal, 2018. https://www.medicaldaily.com/conditions/sexual-health