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Counseling for Women's Sexual Problems

Topic Overview

Effective treatment of a sexual problem requires a high level of comfort between you and your health professional, and between you and your partner. Because a sexual problem often has multiple causes, treatments cannot be universally applied—what works for one woman may not work for another. An effective treatment plan will address and manage the cause and then build and strengthen intimate communication between you and your partner. The best results will help you find methods for having more satisfying sex.

Treatment may include communication counseling for you and your partner, psychological therapy with a goal of building your emotional well-being, and sex therapy. Sex counselors and therapists are trained to provide guidance for women to develop their sexual expression. Therapies may include:

  • Problem-solving techniques to incorporate into communications with your partner.
  • Specific exercises and techniques to enrich your sexual experience. For example:
    • In the case of involuntary contractions of the vagina (vaginismus), you may be taught techniques for dilation of the vaginal opening.
    • In the case of an inability to have an orgasm, you may be taught techniques for masturbation that involve the sites of sexual excitation in the genitals.
  • Dual sex therapy, in which partners are treated together to clarify and work through problems as a team.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy or hypnosis to help you gain control of symptoms that are producing anxiety, such as fear or poor self-esteem.
  • Behavior training, such as assertiveness techniques to help you express your sexual needs with confidence.

The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) certifies sexuality health professionals. For information, see the AASECT website at www.aasect.org.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised February 22, 2012

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