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updated November 20, 2007

Erectile dysfunction treatment: Your options include sex therapy

  • SUMMARY
  • Sex therapy for erectile dysfunction treatment: Discover what it entails and how it can help.
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MayoClinic Logo
Filed under: Sexual Health

(MayoClinic.com) Sex therapy is a specialty field in the area of psychological counseling that's often used as erectile dysfunction treatment. Sex therapy focuses on promoting effective communication about sex and learning techniques to improve sexual function. Talking with a counselor skilled in ways to optimize sexual function is a proven erectile dysfunction treatment on its own. It can also maximize the results of other types of erectile dysfunction treatment — and ease concerns associated with erectile dysfunction.

How is sex therapy done?

Counseling for erectile dysfunction is done either individually or with a partner. Its focus is to teach you how to optimize sexual function and improve skills that can help treat erectile dysfunction. Sex therapy can also help couples learn how to effectively communicate about sex, which can ease stress — and improve erectile function. Your counselor will act as a coach and may give you assignments to do at home between sessions, such as reading about sexual techniques, paying attention to what you do during sex or slowing down and focusing on what you're sensing during sexual encounters. These techniques can help ease stress and improve erectile function. Although one-on-one counseling for erectile dysfunction can help, sex therapy usually works best when a man's partner attends counseling sessions too.

Is sex therapy a good erectile dysfunction treatment option?

Sex therapy is a proven erectile dysfunction treatment, and may be used on its own or combined with another treatment for erectile dysfunction. It can be an especially effective treatment choice if the condition is linked to psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or communication issues. Many men with erectile dysfunction experience stress or anxiety, which can make the problem worse. Talking to a counselor can help.

But sex therapy isn't just for psychological concerns. It's worth it for most men who have erectile dysfunction, even those whose erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical — such as a medical illness or the side effect of a medication. In many cases, the best erectile dysfunction treatment combines sex therapy with another type of treatment for erectile dysfunction, such as a medication or use of a vacuum pump.

How long does sex therapy take?

To be effective, a number of counseling sessions are required, usually weekly or once every two weeks for several months. During the first meeting, your counselor will talk with you about what to expect, how many sessions you'll need and how often you'll meet.

How much does sex therapy cost?

Counseling can cost as much as $150 or more a session, but is often covered by many health insurance policies. Check with your insurance provider ahead of time to make sure counseling is covered by your policy, or have your counselor's office check for you.

How do you find a sex therapist?

Check with local hospitals and university medical centers to see whether they have a sex therapy clinic, or ask your doctor to recommend someone. When choosing a sex therapist, check credentials. Your sex therapist should have specific experience dealing with sexual issues and should be a psychologist, psychiatrist or a licensed counselor. One way to verify credentials is to see whether the therapist is certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. This organization verifies that sex therapists have met advanced education and experience criteria in the area of sex therapy.

Is sex therapy worth the effort?

Using sex therapy as an erectile dysfunction treatment option can take time and work, but in the long run, it's an effective treatment for most men who have erectile dysfunction. Many men feel embarrassed or reluctant to discuss sexual concerns. But erectile dysfunction is a common health issue — and meeting with a specially trained counselor can play an important role in getting the best results from erectile dysfunction treatment. After all, the brain is the primary sex organ. What you think and how you feel has a critical effect on sexual function. Learning sexual skills and techniques can go a long way toward treating erectile dysfunction — and can help you and your partner get the most out of your sexual relationship.

©1998-2009 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.

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