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Viagra, an aphrodisiac diet, therapy, and lube are some of the most well-known remedies for sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, and premature ejaculation.

But there’s another method that, though it may sound a little woo-woo, may actually work: sexual hypnosis.

“Hypnosis may not be a super common treatment methodology for sexual issues today, [but] hypnosis has been used to treat various forms of sexual dysfunction for several decades,” says Sarah Melancon, PhD, sociologist and clinical sexologist with Sex Toy Collective.

But what is sexual hypnosis, exactly? And does it actually work? Scroll down to learn more.

Also known as therapeutic sexual hypnosis, sexual hypnosis can help folks work through a persistent sexual issue that interferes with their solo or partnered sex life.

For example:

Nope. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences.

The purpose of erotic hypnosis is to tease, tantalize, and pleasure, explains Kaz Riley, a clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in working with folks experiencing sexual dysfunction.

“It’s used during sex to enhance pleasure or encourage orgasm, or in a BDSM scene as an element of control,” Riley explains.

Sexual hypnosis, on the other hand, can help someone work through an underlying sexual issue so they can go on to have more pleasure in their solo or partnered sex lives.

The short answer? Erotic hypnosis is about pleasure now. Sexual hypnosis is about enhancing your pleasure after the session, once you’re ready for some “me time” or partnered play.

Hypnosis may be called hypnotherapy. But hypnotherapy ≠ psychotherapy.

Instead, hypnosis is used either as an addendum to therapy or by folks who didn’t find success in psychotherapy.

A session with a sex therapist looks incredibly different than a session with a hypnotherapist who specializes in sex and sexual dysfunction, explains Eli Bliliuos, president and founder of the NYC Hypnosis Center.

“During a sex therapy session, you and a therapist are talking through your issues,” Bliliuos says. “During a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotist is helping you reprogram the subconscious mind.”

If you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction, a hypnotist isn’t your first step — a medical doctor is.

Why? Because sexual dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying physical condition.

Just to name a few, this includes:

That said, you may still decide to include a hypnotist in your healing plan, even if your doctor finds that an underlying health condition is behind your symptoms.

“Where the mind goes the body follows,” Riley says.

She goes on to explain that if you believe or fear that sex will be painful, or that you won’t be able to get and maintain an erection, it’s highly likely that will continue to be true even after the physical cause has been addressed.

“A hypnotist can help rewire the subconscious to stop those thought patterns from interfering with pleasure in the future by reframing them in the mind,” Riley says. Powerful stuff!

The exact route the hypnotist follows will vary based on the specific dysfunction. But the plan of action generally follows the same overall format.

“First, we’ll start with an education about what sex should look like,” Riley says. “Hypnosis can fix a glitch in the program, but before we get started we want to make sure they’re running the right program.”

For example, if you’re worried because your sex life doesn’t resemble what you see in porn, what you need isn’t hypnosis but an education about what porn is (entertainment) and isn’t (educational).

Next, the hypnotist will talk to you about what your exact goals are. They’ll also ask about any past trauma to identify words or themes that could be triggering.

Finally, you’ll move into the hypnosis part of the session.

Most hypnosis sessions begin with relaxation and breathing exercises that help downregulate your body. (Think: Breathe in for a count of 3, then out for a count of 3.)

Then, the hypnotist will guide you into a hypnotic state.

“The hypnotist could use a recognizable technique of swinging a watch back and forth,” Bliliuos says. “But typically, the hypnotist will guide you into a trance-like state using a combination of verbal instruction and breathing techniques.”

To be very clear: There’s zero (0!) touching involved.

“Within sexual hypnosis we’re dealing with arousal and sexual themes, but there is absolutely nothing sexual going on in the session,” Riley says.

Once you’re in this trance-like state, the hypnotist will help you identify the part of your subconscious mind that’s the “limiter,” and then use voice-guided instruction to help you reprogram it.

“Sometimes it takes one 2-hour session to do, other times it takes multiple hourlong sessions,” Riley says.

“Hypnosis has a pretty big stigma attached to it, with many scientists assuming it is just a carnival trick,” Melancon says. “However, there are some small studies suggesting there’s some benefit, and anecdotally many people have found it helpful for navigating sexual holdups.”

One 1988 review published in the journal Sexology concluded that the use of hypnosis for sexual dysfunction is promising.

And a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis concludes that: “[Sexual hypnosis] gives patients a new inner awareness enabling them to manage their sexuality from within, naturally and without excessive effort, with greater choice and freedom than before.”

Are these studies dated? Absolutely! Is more research needed? You bet!

But considering that sexual hypnosis marries two topics — hypnosis and sexuality — that are nearly impossible to get funding for, the sad truth is that likely won’t happen anytime soon. Sigh.

Hypnosis itself isn’t dangerous.

“You don’t lose control of your behavior while under hypnosis,” Riley explains. “You can’t do something while hypnotized that your non-hypnotized self wouldn’t consent to.”

Still, it needs to be done by a trained and ethical practitioner!

Hypnosis can be dangerous when conducted by an unethical hypnotist. (Of course, the same can be said about unethical psychotherapists and medical practitioners too.)

No doubt, searching “sexual hypnosis” on Google will bring up millions of results. So how do you suss out who’s legit (and safe!) versus who’s not?

Bliliuos says there are two things to look for in a provider:

  1. accreditation, specifically from either the National Guild of Hypnotists or the International Association of Counselors and Therapists
  2. experience

Once you find someone with those two things, most experts will offer a consultation call to determine whether it’s a good fit.

On this call you want to learn:

  • What does this hypnotist do? Do they have experience working with folks with my specific sexual dysfunction?
  • Do I feel comfortable with this expert? Do I feel safe?

Riley’s YouTube channel, “Trancing in the Sheets,” is a great place to start.

In fact, she has one episode, “The Big O,” where you can watch her guide someone with anorgasmia to orgasm to get a sense of exactly what a session entails.

Other resources include:


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York–based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.