Sex therapy is the treatment of sexual dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction conjures up feelings of guilt, anger, insecurity, frustration, and rejection. Therapy is slow and requires open communication and understanding between sexual partners. Therapy may inadvertently address interpersonal communication problems.
Sex therapy is conducted by a trained therapist, doctor, or psychologist. The initial sessions should cover a complete history not only of the sexual problem but of the entire relationship and each individual's background and personality. The sexual relationship should be discussed in the context of the entire relationship. In fact, sexual counseling may de-emphasize sex until other aspects of the relationship are better understood and communicated.
There are several techniques that combat sexual dys-function and are used in sex therapy. They include:
- Semans' technique, which is used to help combat premature ejaculation with a "start-stop" approach to penis stimulation. By stimulating the man up to the point of ejaculation and then stopping, the man will become more aware of his response. More awareness leads to greater control, and open stimulation of both partners leads to greater communication and less anxiety. The start-stop technique is conducted four times until the man is allowed to ejaculate.
- Sensate focus therapy, the practice of nongenital and genital touching between partners in order to decrease sexual anxiety and build communication. First, partners explore each other's bodies without touching the genitals or breasts. Once the couple is comfortable with nongenital touching, they can expand to genital stimulation. Intercourse is prohibited in order to allow the partners to expand their intimacy and communication.
- Squeeze technique, which is used to treat premature ejaculation. When the man feels the urge to ejaculate, his partner squeezes his penis just below the head. This stops ejaculation and gives the man more control over his response.
Habits change slowly. All the techniques must be practiced faithfully for long periods of time to relearn behaviors. Communication is imperative.
Masters, William H., Virginia E. Johnson, Virginia, and Robert C. Kolodny. Heterosexuality. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc. 1994.
Westheimer, Ruth. Dr. Ruth's Guide for Married Lovers. New York: Warner Books, 1986.
J. Ricker Polsdorfer, MD