Sexual Dysfunction and Intimacy Issues
What is sexual dysfunction?
There can be many psychological reasons that sex or intimacy is difficult. These problems are not uncommon. Forty-three percent of women and thirty one percent of men will deal with these challenges in their lifetimes.
Some of these issues can be linked to anxiety around having sex. There can be performance issues as well as relationship issues involved. No one really likes to talk about these issues, so a lack of communication can also be a problem.
There are times past influences come to bear on one’s ability to have sexual intimacy. Some people have difficult memories around sex. Some people may have had traumatic memories that need to be processed. Some people have had difficult relationships which contribute to the problem.
Anxiety and depression can influence how we feel about sex, as well as eroding self confidence or body image issues. We need to feel comfortable in our own skin. Sexual identity issues are sometimes involved. If there is resentment in the relationship, that can inhibit intimacy.
These issues can affect everyone at all ages, but seem to be more common in men and women over forty. As we get older, our bodies change. You can’t discount the possibility of physical challenges. For that reason, sex therapy needs to be done in conjunction with a medical doctor.
What are some of the symptoms you might be experiencing?
In men, sexual symptoms include erectile dysfunction and issues related to being able to maintain an erection. Another kind of issue involves the timing of climax or ejaculation. Does it happen too soon, or too late or not at all?
In women, we sometimes encounter issues around a difficulty in climaxing. Sometimes psychological stress is a factor, and sometimes an inability to relax physically is a problem. While painful intercourse is not a common complaint, it tends to occur more in women. All of these issues can relate to difficulty one’s relationship or stressors involving past sexual experiences.
Both men and women can have problems with arousal, or a lack of interest in sex. Differences in libido can cause sexual avoidance, or differences in the frequency of sex. Avoiding sex can be strictly psychological in nature, or can involve both physical and psychological challenges. Often one or both partners will want a change. Either way, sex therapy with the right counselor can be a useful tool.
What can you expect from a Sex Therapist?
A sex therapist will help you work through any emotional issues that are contributing to sexual dysfunction. Many of us are licensed marriage and family therapists who have undertaken specialized training in sex therapy. Since these issues are difficult to talk about, you will want compassionate support from your counselor.
There will be frank discussions about the physicality of sex, but everyone will be fully clothed throughout the process. We will start by taking a detailed history of all of your life experiences, which will include your sexual experiences. As with any other form of therapy, everything remains confidential.
We will then formulate goals and talk about solutions and strategies. You may want to bring your partner into the discussion for all or part of the therapy. We may discuss homework you can do in the privacy of your own home with your partner. You may prefer not to bring a partner, and that is completely up to you.