If you’re seeking sex therapy, you’re probably aware of its possible implications in other areas of your life. Sex therapy intervenes in clinical disorders like sexual dysfunction, a condition that affects three out of four people in adulthood, regardless of age or sex.
Despite this fact, many countries’ health strategies have been focused on other areas. For example, reproductive health and the prevention of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This has led to sex therapy remaining in the background.
“Sexuality is an integral part of a person’s emotional health and well-being, and should be treated with the same importance as any other area of health.”
Sexual dysfunction (SD)
Sexual dysfunction refers to various clinical entities. According to the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5-TR, APA, 2022), they revolve around aspects such as a lack of sexual desire, difficulties with achieving erections, or pain during intercourse.
Research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (Lewis et al., 2010), claims that women often suffer from sexual dysfunction. In fact:
- Up to 25 percent of women suffer from an orgasmic disorder.
- Around 55 percent suffer from a sexual interest/arousal disorder.
- Up to 27 percent suffer from a penetrating genito-pelvic disorder.
Men also frequently experience sexual dysfunction. An investigation led by Lewis et. al (2010) reports the following numbers:
- Up to 30 percent of men suffer from premature ejaculation.
- Around 40 percent experience an erectile disorder.
- Up to 18 percent experience a sexual interest/arousal disorder.
As a rule, to diagnose sexual dysfunction, six months must have elapsed since the onset of symptoms. These have an impact in various spheres, such as couples. They cause anguish and discomfort in sufferers as they don’t enjoy sexual encounters (APA, 2022).
“Many contextual factors, such as the postpartum period, job stressors, or breakups, can temporarily affect sexual functioning.”
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Patients seeking sex therapy
As a rule, those who request the services of a specialized sex therapist do so because they’re dissatisfied with their sexual experiences. In this regard, recent research published in the technical journal, Plos One, led by researcher David Lafortune (Lafortune et al., 2023) states that several common elements are found in people seeking sex therapy.
In fact, the study states that, as a result of dissatisfaction in this area, patients with sexual dysfunction experience high levels of discomfort. This leads them to seek professional help. However, the process is far from free of restrictions.
Lafortune et al mentioned the following drawbacks (Lafortune et al., 2023):
- Nearly two out of ten people didn’t receive adequate information.
- Almost three out of ten people couldn’t afford it.
- Almost six out of ten people found it difficult to access an expert.
- Nearly three out of ten patients were on waiting lists for extended periods.
When we look at the social and demographic characteristics of the participants, curiously, the majority of patients who attend sex therapy are usually men (both heterosexual and homosexual).
“Low sexual functioning represents a major public health problem.”
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Professionals sought by patients seeking sex therapy
A study published in the International Urogynecology Journal (2018) claims that people with sexual dysfunction avoid contacting sexual health professionals because they consider the conditions they’re suffering from to be a natural and normal part of the aging process. However, this may constitute a mistaken belief regarding sexual health, since the advantages of going to therapy are substantial.
According to the study carried out by Lafortune and his team, almost 19 percent of people visted a specialist in general medicine, ten percent to a specialist in urology or gynecology, and 12 percent to a psychologist. Therefore, sex therapists are the professionals most in demand by those seeking to treat sexual dysfunction.
Considering the high prevalence of sexual dysfunction in society, it’s essential that public health policies are implemented to address these problems.
As you can see, there are several difficulties and barriers facing the sexual dysfunction sufferer. For instance, Lafortune et al mention that the pandemic produced by the SARS-COV-2 virus increased the number of patients with sexual dysfunction. This was due to the fact that, during the period of social isolation, there was no chance of seeking treatment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic could have exacerbated sexual dysfunctions and influenced help-seeking behaviors.”