Let’s talk about SEX

South Shore Women's Journal - Health & Wellness
By Dr. Julie A. Johnson

How many times have women said, “Honey, not tonight, I have a headache” to avoid relations with their partners? Maybe we’ve had a long and stressful day and we’re simply tired. Or maybe there is an underlying physiological and psychological condition that is keeping us from being totally fulfilled. Forty-three percent of all women have some form of sexual dysfunction.

What are the symptoms of sexual dysfunction?

The most common kinds of sexual dysfunction are pain upon sexual intercourse, which is referred to as dyspareunia; a muted orgasm, one that takes a long time to achieve, or none at all; arousal issues - lack of lubrication or stimulation; and desire issues - an aversion to or no interest in sex at all.

What is a sex therapist?

A sex therapist is someone who has extensive training and expertise in helping people with sexual problems or issues, such as: sexual dysfunction, sexual addiction, gender dysphoria, abuse or trauma. A certified sex therapist is someone who has met academic and clinical standards in the area of psychology and sexuality and has passed a lengthy and rigorous process by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). A sex therapist with AASECT credentials will have the appropriate knowledgeable and background to give the best advice.

How do I know if my sexual difficulty is from a psychological or physical problem?

Some women feel guilty about not being interested in having sex. Others feel frustrated about missing that part of their life and want it back. Some may not even know there is a problem unless their partner brings it to their attention. All too often women have been told that their lack of sexual desire is due to stress or they are told to go on a date to spice things up. That advice may work in some instances, but oftentimes women need their concerns taken seriously by a professional such as therapist, a medical doctor, or in the best case scenario - both.

Most sexual difficulties have psychological and physical components. Today, because of medical advances, physical causes are often discovered in the majority of cases. The psychological or emotional component may be a result of the sexual problem rather than the cause. Relationship issues can often emerge during any form of sexual difficulty.

What happens at my first appointment?

During your initial one-hour consultation, I will evaluate your needs and figure out how I can best help you. I try to put clients at ease by creating an open atmosphere to discuss these sensitive issues. Then, in most cases I will refer you for a physical evaluation with the team I work with at the Center for Sexual Medicine at Boston Medical Center. We will continue to meet for therapy on a regular basis at my office at the Plymouth Center for Behavioral Health, LLC, in conjunction with the physiological interventions prescribed. Although everyone’s situation is different, most people start to feel better in a few months.

Why is talking about sex important?

Sex can be a barometer of your mental and physical health and can indicate the status of your intimate relationship. Sex is a normal part of life and if someone is feeling upset about their sexuality they need to get help with that.

Who do you see in sex therapy?

I see a variety of people with different backgrounds. Oftentimes, I see mothers who experience a decrease in sexual activity after childbirth. This is very common and could be due to a decrease in hormones, stress, or other factors. Other people who can benefit from sex therapy are those with: internet/sexual addiction, transgender disorders, gays, lesbians, couples with sexual difficulties, victims of abuse/sexual assault, people living with STDs and singles without partners who want to work on self-esteem issues relating to sex .

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