This article was originally published on Healing Moments Counseling.
Sexual wellness is an important aspect of our well-being. Yet, for many people, issues related to sexual function or desire can cause distress and negatively impact their quality of life. Research has uncovered that 46% of people struggle with some form of sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction may include low libido, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, pain during intercourse, difficulty achieving orgasm, or concerns related to sexual orientation.
On top of the sexual dysfunction, we feel shame, insecure, and/or pressure to perform, making sex more stressful and less pleasurable. It feels like a Chinese finger trap, the more we try to fix the physical side of things, the emotional/mental side tightens around us and keeps us stuck. This is why sex therapy can be so helpful. It can loosen the grip of the emotional bind and free us of the constraints.
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on addressing sexual concerns and improving sexual function and health. It can be beneficial for individuals or romantic partners who are experiencing a range of sexual issues by:
- Addresses underlying psychological issues: Sexual dysfunction can be caused by a variety of psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. Sex therapy can help individuals identify and address these underlying issues, which can improve sexual functioning. 
- Improves communication: Sex therapy can help individuals and relationships improve their communication skills, which can lead to better sexual experiences and stronger relationships. In Eight Dates, Drs. John and Julie Gottman write, “Research shows that couples who can talk openly about sex have more sex, and the women in these relationships have more orgasms.”
- Provides education: Sex therapy can provide individuals with education about sexual health and wellness, including information about anatomy, sexual response, and safe sex practices.
- Explore preferences: Sex therapy can help individuals develop a greater sense of sexual self-awareness. Many people may not fully understand their own sexual desires or preferences, and may struggle to communicate these with their partner. A sex therapist can help individuals explore their own sexual identity and desires, and work with them to develop effective communication skills to better express their needs and desires to their partner. 
- Reduces stress: Stress can have a negative impact on sexual functioning. It leads to more premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, difficulty achieving orgasm, and more. Sex therapy techniques can help individuals reduce stress and anxiety, which can improve sexual functioning.
- Offers a safe space: Sex therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals and partners to discuss their sexual concerns and explore their sexuality.
One of the key goals of sex therapy is to develop sexual health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual health is
“a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.” Sexual wellness refers to the ability to enjoy and express one’s sexuality in a positive way that is consistent with one’s values and beliefs.
Research has shown that sex therapy can have many benefits for individuals and couples. For example:
- Improves sexual functioning: A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sex therapy was effective in improving sexual functioning for both men and women with sexual dysfunction. 
- Increases sexual satisfaction: Another study found that sex therapy was associated with increased sexual satisfaction for both men and women.
- Reduces distress: Sex therapy has been shown to reduce distress related to sexual dysfunction.
Overall, sex therapy can play a vital role in unlocking sexual wellness and improving overall well-being. By addressing sexual concerns and providing education and guidance, sex therapy can help individuals and couples achieve a fulfilling sex life and enhance their overall quality of life. If you are experiencing sexual issues, consider speaking with a sex therapist to explore the benefits of sex therapy and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.
 Frühauf, S., Gerger, H., Schmidt, H. M., Munder, T., & Barth, J. (2013). Efficacy of psychological interventions for sexual dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 915–933. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-0062-0  Tung S. C. (2018). AB101. Sex therapy in andrology: methodology and clinical practice. Translational Andrology and Urology, 7(Suppl 5), AB101. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2018.AB101  Nagoski, E. (2015). Come as you are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.  World Health Organization. (2006). Defining sexual health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28-31 January 2002, Geneva. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/gender_rights/defining_sexual_health.pdf  Gianotten, W.L., Alley, J.C., & Diamond, L.M. (2021). The Health Benefits of Sexual Expression. International Journal of Sexual Health, 33, 478 – 493.  Pereira, V. M., Arias-Carrión, O., Machado, S., Nardi, A. E., & Silva, A. C. (2013). Sex therapy for female sexual dysfunction. International archives of medicine, 6(1), 37. https://doi.org/10.1186/1755-7682-6-37