Understanding sexual problems

What are sexual problems?

Sex is part of life and should be the most natural thing in the world. Like moving and breathing, sex is a source of energy that can revitalise you and contribute to that wonderful sense of well-being that we all seek. Giving and receiving pleasure are among the most rewarding and satisfying experiences anyone can have. But if it is so natural, why does it sometimes go wrong?

Most people will experience sexual difficulties at some point in their lives. This could be because of stress or overwork, a result of being in the wrong relationship, or simply down to physical reasons.

So what is a sexual problem? Usually it means that something in your sex life is not happening in the way that you want it to.  This can lead to a variety of emotions and feelings, ranging from minor frustration to severe distress. It is important to recognise that, just as there are a different range of responses, so there are many different levels of severity in sexual problems themselves, with mild symptoms at one end of the spectrum and very serious difficulties at the other, with all kinds of gradations in between. Also, each person is unique and will try to deal with a sexual problem in their own way. What is apparent across all these variations is that sexual problems are upsetting and require help.

The following are the most commonly experienced sexual problems regularly treated by psychosexual therapists.

Male sexual problems:

  • Erectile dysfunction (the inability to sustain or maintain an erection)
  • Premature ejaculation (coming too quickly)
  • Orgasmic dysfunction (failing to ejaculate or taking a long time to do so)

Female sexual problems:

  • Vaginisimus (inability to have intercourse due to muscle spasm)
  • Dyspareunia (painful sex, for one or more of a variety of reasons)
  • Orgasmic dysfunction (inability to reach orgasm during intercourse, masturbation, or both)

In addition, both men and women can experience a loss of desire.

Various psychological therapies have been used in counselling and psychotherapy for many years, and all have their own particular way of looking at problems. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) unites two very important elements, combining ‘thinking' and ‘doing'. Thinking (and perhaps talking about) and understanding why you have a problem can be very helpful but you will need to go a bit further than this, and take action. CBT not only focuses on changing behaviour but looks at the thinking patterns and motives underlying our behaviour.


Overcoming Sexual Problems, written by Vicki Ford

 This useful self-help guide contains information and advice to help you overcome sexual problems. For more information about this book click here >

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