12 Reasons You Might Consider Scheduling An Appointment With A Sex Therapist

Sex therapy, like any other type of therapy, is a necessity when your sex life is troubling you. After all, why should you let your sex life suffer when there's a way to work through your concerns? Sex therapy originated in the 1960s when gynecologist William Masters and psychologist Virginia Johnson set out to create a therapeutic way to treat sexual problems (per International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences). Initially, couples experiencing sexual difficulties and performance anxiety were treated with emotional and behavioral therapy. Today, you definitely don't have to be in a relationship to see a sex therapist.

Many of us have experienced sexual problems ranging from pain during sex to a lack of desire. But how do you know if a sex therapist is right for you? Well, simply put, anyone looking to be more sex-positive, confident, and satisfied with their sex life can choose to do sex therapy. And the process to find a sex therapist is fairly easy. According to Healthline, you can start your search with organizations like the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists that specialize in addressing sexual concerns. Even a Google search of licensed sex therapists in your area can help you come across trained professionals who can help change your entire perception of sex.

In order to demystify the work that happens during a sex therapy session, take a look at some of the reasons you may consider scheduling an appointment with a sex therapist.

You're experiencing relationship issues

A leading cause for visiting a sex therapist can be relationship issues. Now, of course, couples counseling may be better suited for you if your relationship problems aren't affecting your sex life. However, if your issues are seeping into the bedroom, then visiting a sex therapist might be a good call.

Our bodies and needs are constantly evolving. So, when we are in a long-term relationship, it is entirely possible for there to be a clash in the relationship that carries over into the bedroom. Perhaps you have unresolved emotional issues that are getting in the way of your sex life, or maybe the sex just isn't as great as it was at the start of your relationship. 

Regardless of the specific issue you might be having, communication is usually the key to solving it. And sometimes, this isn't possible on your own. This is where a sex therapist comes in. During your first appointment, you and your partner can expect questions about your sexual history and preferences as well as your perception of sex and how this has been influenced or changed over time. After gaining insight into these topics, your sex therapist then specifically addresses the sexual concerns that you have in your relationship until both you and your partner are satisfied.

You have sexual trauma

Unfortunately, not all sexual experiences are positive. If you have experienced sexual trauma of any kind, there's no specific timetable or path for recovery other than what feels right for you. If you do feel comfortable and ready to process your emotions around sex, then visiting a sex therapist could be beneficial.

Having fear or anxiety grip you during sexual experiences can be extremely tough. This is why sex therapy encourages a safe space to comfortably process any trauma, sexual abuse, or negative experiences that are impacting your sex life. In fact, Swor Women's Care encourages seeking professional help as early as possible in order to help you navigate your personal and sexual relationships in a healthy manner. During your session, you will have full control in establishing your boundaries as well as a chance to work with your therapist on how you can feel safe and have a positive and pleasurable sex life moving forward.

You're questioning your sexuality

Even though it can seem scary, questioning your sexuality is an incredible journey that you should feel supported in. If you are feeling confused about where you should begin, then consider tapping into your feelings concerning your sexuality. Visiting a sex therapist is a good start to help you explore these feelings as well as your self-identity. A sex therapist can also serve as a great resource to help answer various questions that may arise during your journey.

 "Some people think it's a sex therapist's job to make people have more sex and crazier sex, and [it's] definitely not," says certified sex therapist and psychologist Holly Richmond to Self. Rather, your sex therapist is there to aid you by giving reassurance and support. Despite the questions that you might have about your gender identity or your sexual orientation, your sex therapist's job is to help ensure that you feel empowered and encouraged every step of the way to take charge of both your sex and personal lives.

You have performance anxiety

Did you know sexual performance anxiety impacts between 9-25% of men and between 6-16% of women, according to a study published in Sexual Medicine Reviews? In fact, this is the most common type of sexual dysfunction, and it can take a great mental toll and put a negative damper on your sex life. Performance anxiety sounds quite like its name and occurs when you have negative thoughts or worries that affect your ability to perform during sex. For instance, you might be constantly worrying if you will be able to properly please your partner, which can lead to issues like erectile dysfunction, per Medical News Today. Oftentimes, there is an immense amount of anxiety, stress, and fear that is the culprit behind your performance anxiety.

The good news is that it is possible to overcome this performance anxiety by seeking help and working closely with a sex therapist. In fact, techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and guided meditation can help decrease sexual performance anxiety. Your sex therapist can help you by identifying what might be triggering your performance anxiety, like poor body image issues or your negative perceptions about sex, and then, work with you to diminish these concerns until you have confidence in the bedroom.

You have difficulty achieving an orgasm

Let's face it, having difficulties climaxing or achieving an orgasm can be incredibly frustrating. However, it definitely doesn't mean that this issue has to continue for the rest of your life. In fact, you can face this issue head-on through sexual education, which can help break certain myths about orgasms. For instance, did you know that "fewer than 1 in 5 women say they can climax from vaginal intercourse alone" (per Mayo Clinic)? Typically, other tools like a vibrator or direct clitoral stimulation are needed to help you climax. 

So where does a sex therapist come into this equation? Well, first and foremost, your sex therapist will work with you to identify if you've ever climaxed or achieved an orgasm and help you pinpoint where your inability to do so comes from. For example, if there is a physical health issue at hand, like chronic health conditions or medications causing difficulty ejaculating, then you may be advised to undergo tests and seek help from a doctor. However, your sex therapist can help you navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of sex that play a role in you finishing during sex. This can include educating you on how different bodies can be aroused, as well as challenging any mental blocks that you might have when it comes to sex.

You're recovering from a sexually transmitted infection

Sexually transmitted infections are more common than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in five people in the U.S. are suffering from a sexually transmitted infection. Yet, despite their commonality, they can be embarrassing and isolating to experience. Moreover, recovering from a sexually transmitted infection can increase anxiety when it comes to sex and disclosing your disease to future sexual partners.

Fortunately, a sex therapist is there to help you work through any embarrassment or anxiety that you might be feeling during your recovery. A big part of sex therapy includes education and helping you become aware of how common sexually transmitted infections are and the type of care that you can take moving forward to prevent STIs from spreading. Your sex therapist can work with you to figure out the best way to feel comfortable disclosing your sexually transmitted infection to a future partner, all while still feeling empowered and confident about your sex life.

You want to spice things up in the bedroom

If you're feeling bored in the bedroom, there may be quite a few things going on. Of course, the most obvious answer is to attempt to spice things up in your sex life. However, the specifics on how to do so are where a sex therapist really comes into play. For instance, if you are in a monogamous relationship, your sex therapist might encourage you to share your bedroom fantasies with your partner and guide you on how to build tension during sex, via Yahoo!

However, if changing your routine still has you feeling down, your relationship or personal struggles might be the real source of your boredom. When you're in a long-term relationship, it can be easy to let things get boring if your sex life isn't prioritized. Often, finances, careers, family, and life, in general, take precedence. However, in order to create a satisfying sex life, you need to put in the work and prioritize it, just like anything else in your life. This is why seeking out sex therapy if your sex life is suffering is especially important. Your sex therapist might help you find alternatives to your typical routine in the bedroom. This can be as simple as asking for what you want in the bedroom or being more in the moment during sex and attempting to connect with your partner, per The Center for Growth.

Sex is painful for you

Having painful sex is never enjoyable for anyone. Painful sex can occur for many reasons, ranging from health conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease to endometriosis. Sometimes, even added stress or anxiety can bring about pain during sex. Painful sex is an especially common experience among women. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, nearly 7.5% of women in Britain between the ages of 16 to 74 reported having painful sex in a two-year period. This painful sex was linked to poor sexual education, declining mental health, and other health factors like vaginal dryness and a lack of desire.

Sex is meant to be enjoyable for every party involved. If you or your partner are experiencing painful sex, it is necessary to seek professional help to see what might be wrong. A sex therapist can help you pinpoint the reasons why you might be experiencing painful sex. This could include suggesting a physical examination with your doctor, talking about your mood during sex, or resolving any fears or anxieties that you might have. Ultimately, the goal is for you to be comfortable and relaxed during sex.

You and your partner are sexually incompatible

Do you or your partner have unmatched libidos? Do you crave sex more often than your partner? Perhaps you have a big difference in the type of sexual activities that you like to engage in or differ in ideology on how often you should be having sex. Sexual compatibility in a relationship is important for both partners to feel truly satisfied. So, what do you do when you find yourself in an otherwise loving relationship that lacks sexual compatibility? For starters, you can put in the work by visiting a sex therapist.

Your sex therapist will work with both you and your partner to first unpack why you think you're sexually incompatible. "A critical skill that many partners aren't practiced in doing is talking about sex they truly desire," says sexuality expert Sari Cooper in an interview with Brides. Once you are honest with yourself and each other about what it is that you truly desire, including everything from your far-fetched fantasies to how much sex you really want to have, you can start having open conversations about how to get on the same page. It can be really easy to blame your partner or feel frustrated during this process. This is why scheduling an appointment with a sex therapist can help you navigate these painful feelings and ultimately reach your shared goal of becoming more sexually compatible.

You don't have a desire to have sex

There are many factors that determine how much sex we desire. This includes hormones, daily stressors, big life changes, medications, and other factors that may impact your physical or mental health. For instance, if you are pregnant or recently had a child, this can play a huge role in how much sex you desire due to new responsibilities, body image issues, and overall stress, per Women's Health. Perhaps you have never really had much of a desire for sex or have a particularly low sex drive. While this is completely normal, it is important that you feel confident about your sexual desires and not like something is holding you back from the amount of sex that you truly wish to have.

Consulting a sex therapist can help you reclaim your sex life. Your therapist will likely advise and perform a series of guided exercises to encourage you to look within yourself for answers to what is preventing you from having the sex life of your dreams. Uncovering these feelings and coming to terms with your sexuality, however high or low that may be, will ultimately help you feel more empowered and at peace.

Your body image concerns are affecting your sex life

When you look in the mirror, how do you feel about your body? The way you look and think about your body plays a big role in how much you enjoy sex and can also seep into different areas of your sex life like affecting arousal or ability to climax, per Psychology Today. When someone believes that their body is unattractive, their sexual self-esteem is affected. This can cause you to start avoiding sexual activity altogether.

"Sexual intimacy involves the sharing of your innermost essence with another person, and being able to pay attention to yourself as well as to your partner," says Ann Kearney-Cooke, director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute, in an interview with O, the Oprah Magazine. However, it can be hard to be in the moment and focus on having pleasurable sex when, instead, you are anxious and apprehensive about your own body and how it'll be perceived. If you are experiencing body image issues, consider seeking help from a sex therapist to overcome this issue. Instead of continuing to have a stressful and unsatisfying sex life, you and your counselor can work together to turn around your negative body image and engage in activities that will help you feel more confident and desirable. This can help you have a more positive outlook during sex while feeling relaxed and comfortable with yourself.

You're looking to be sex-positive

Appreciating and valuing your own sexuality is crucial to having a satisfying sex life. Unfortunately, this can often be tainted with negative judgments about sex that lead to feelings of shame and guilt. Sometimes, accepting your sexuality can also help you untangle the roots of sexual shame or abuse and, in turn, lead you to be a more authentic version of yourself. The first step in embracing your sexuality is to take a more sex-positive outlook or approach. According to PsychCentral, this can look like embracing your sexual orientation, educating yourself on sex, embracing your flaws, and learning about sexual hygiene. The goal is to equip you to have a positive outlook on sex without feeling any sense of shame.

Seeking the help of a sex therapist will gear you to be more sex-positive and help you in your journey of self-discovery. Together, you can work with your therapist to reframe your sex-negative perspective and heal from trauma and other unresolved sexual issues. A good sex therapist will help to make your sex life great with fresh ideas and techniques, all while creating a non-judgmental environment. Ultimately, by working to have a more sex-positive outlook, you can have healthy and meaningful relationships that allow you to experience pleasure and leave you feeling satisfied.