Relationship

12 Things Sex Therapists Wish You Knew

Sex therapists set the rumors straight about what you can expect, when you might want to see them—and what you can do to improve your sex life.

You won’t need to do the deed in front of your therapist—or with your therapist

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You may have heard rumors that you’ll have to show, rather than tell, your problem in sex therapy. And if you’ve watched the series Masters of Sex, that’s definitely what happened there—along with sex surrogate therapy, in which the researchers or their staff engaged in sexual contact to help patients.

But sex therapists say that they won’t be watching—or participating—in your sexual activities: They’ll just be helping you recover that loving feeling.  “Professional therapy never includes sex, touching, or removal of clothing,” says Shannon Chavez, PsyD, CST, a licensed clinical psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist in Beverly Hills, California. “It is similar to traditional therapy, other than dealing primarily with sexual health, solution-focused and short-term. I describe my therapy approach as talk therapy with an eclectic use of coaching, adult sex education, and behavioral approaches and exercises. We are learning tools for mindfulness, stress management, and self-care.” Here are the 9 things that happen to your body when you stop having sex.

 There may be a medical reason for sexual issues

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Sex therapy will help with many sexual problems, but there could also be a health issue that requires medical intervention—such as erectile dysfunction or female sexual dysfunction. “Many couples do not know that the cause of some problems with sexual desire or arousal may be caused by a medical condition,” says therapist Pepper Schwartz, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and the author of 22 books, including American Couples: Money, Work and Sex. “If a woman’s relationship is strong, but she has been experiencing persistent sexual problems lasting six months or longer, it may be a medical issue, rather than a relationship issue. The most common female sexual dysfunction is low desire that causes distress, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). A therapist or health-care provider can go over a long checklist of possible reasons for the loss of sexual desire and help determine what the cause might be. The solution might not be solved in a few sessions, but the first step towards changing a sexual issue that is interfering with one’s happiness or relationship is to admit it is a problem and find out what appropriate options for treatment are available.”

Communication is the key to a healthy sex life

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Talking about sex can feel awkward for a lot of couples—whether they’re having a perfectly healthy sex relationship or not. But experts say that communicating can help stave off problems. “Talking about sex is just as important as having sex,” Chavez says. “It helps you assess what you want and builds the language in which you can describe it. If you feel uncomfortable talking about sex openly and honestly with a partner then it will be difficult to share your desires or disclose when there are concerns.”

Chavez advises that sex talk doesn’t just have to happen in the bedroom. “I recommend talking about sex over a morning cup of coffee or tea, while taking a nice walk, or snuggling in each other’s arms.”Don’t miss these 48 simple tricks to improve your sex life.

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