Sex Therapy

The mention of the word “sex therapy” causes many an eyebrow to be raised. One is familiar with terms like drug therapy, physiotherapy, heat therapy, and naturo therapy etc. But Sex Therapy continues to be an unfamiliar and little discussed term.

The dictionary describes therapy as “the curative and preventive treatment of diseases or abnormal conditions”. In other words, any treatment strategy that is used to combat a disease or dysfunction can be called therapy. If drugs are used in the course of the treatment, it is referred to as Drug Therapy; the use of physical exercises is termed Physiotherapy; behavioral modification methods used in dealing with abnormal behavior is known as Behavioral Therapy etc. Similarly, when specific sexual or erotic tasks are used in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions, then this therapeutic strategy is known as Sex Therapy.

It is a well-established fact that sexual functioning does not depend only on physical aspects. The psyche or the mind plays an equal role in sexual functioning. Moreover sexual behavior is not purely instinctual, but mostly learnt. Hence, it is very important for one to understand that, besides body organs, several other factors are involved during the sexual act.

Often one is under the mistaken notion, that sex is purely physical and therefore seeks to treat sexual dysfunctions only through medicines. What is being done here is only an attempt at treating the symptom and not the cause. Hence, proper results can not be achieved.

However, this is not to say that sexual problems cannot be caused by physical factors. They do occur, but their incidence is usually low. Even in such cases psychological factors play a significant role, in addition.

The right approach is to first determine the cause of the sexual problem. If the problem is caused by physical conditions; then the treatment should be directed towards curing or controlling the physical factor. For e.g. Hormone replacement therapy- if there is a hormone deficiency or surgical correction – if there is an obstruction in blood flow to the genitals. Here, it is worthwhile to realize and remember that there is no ‘one cure all’ drug that can be used for all sexual problems with an organic origin.

When the problem is due to psychological or emotional causes like performance anxiety, fear of failure, guilt, poor self- esteem, poor interpersonal communication, sexual ignorance, etc., then the treatment of choice will be Sex therapy.

The basic philosophy or idea of sex therapy is as follows:

Many a time a person is plagued by anxiety and concern when approaching their sexual partners, even though they are aware that there is no physical problem. In such cases, it is pointless for the doctor to administer a drug. At the same time, it serves no purpose in telling the client not to get worried and in reassuring him that everything will be alright. What the couple need is a method of treatment which will help them overcome their anxiety and concerns, so that their sexual functioning is not affected. Sex therapy is the method of choice here.

In Sex therapy, certain specific structured sexual tasks will be administered to the couple at the doctor /therapist’s office. After a thorough understanding of the prescribed tasks and a clarification of doubts if any, the couple will go back and perform these tasks in the privacy of their own home. While performing these tasks, the couple gets involved in them and thereby loses their inhibitions which affected their sexual response. This helps them to cope with earlier anxieties and concerns and facilitates a normal sexual response.

This in essence is Sex Therapy. The entire therapeutic process may require 5 to 10 visits to the doctor’s office.
It is important to remember that in Sex therapy, the individual partner is not considered to be the sufferer. Instead, it is the marital unit that suffers. There is nothing called an uninvolved partner where sexual problems exist. Hence, the participation of both the spouses is of paramount importance if the sexual problem is to be resolved successfully.

Research had established that even when medical/ surgical therapies are undertaken, concurrent Sex Therapy was beneficial. This type of conjoint therapeutic approach will be useful in speedy resolution of the problem.

In certain cases, where marital problems and deep rooted psychological problems cause and exist with the sexual problems, it will; be necessary to undergo marital therapy and psychotherapy along with sex therapy. In such cases, where a conjoint therapy is required, DEGA institute will undertake that as comprehensive treatment programme.

People with sexual problems can best help themselves, if they have an open mind and allow the doctor to decide upon the most suitable method of treatment for them. Those who approach the doctor, with a preconceived notion, that medicines are the only answer will achieve only little.

After all, the resolution of the problem is the primary objective rather than the means or methods.