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How can sex therapy help treat erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
If the cause of your erectile dysfunction (ED) is psychological in nature, seeing a sex counselor or sex therapist may help. In general, sex counselors and sex therapists tend to get specific training about sexual issues that sabotage sexual satisfaction, like erectile issues.

A sex coach can also help individuals and couples. They tend to work on issues in the present, and through communication and home activities help get to the root of the issue providing education, support and guidance for an individual or couple to set and reach their goals. In regard to erectile issues, when the cause is not deeply psychological in nature, coaching can be helpful.
Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Sex therapy is often helpful for erectile dysfunction, even when physical factors are the principal cause. Sexual difficulties, no matter what the cause, can strain your relationship. Frequently a man with erectile problems experiences performance anxiety, which makes him reluctant to initiate sexual contact. His partner may perceive this as rejection, which could trigger feelings of frustration and resentment. Sex therapy can help a couple overcome these feelings and re-establish intimacy.

In addition to standard sensate focus techniques, the therapist will teach the couple techniques for overcoming worries about losing an erection during sexual activity. For example, in one approach, a man and his partner progress to the stage of stimulation where intercourse would normally begin, then purposely stop so that the penis becomes less firm. Then they resume stimulation until the man has an erection again. When they do this exercise repeatedly, the couple learns to relax, knowing that the man will be able to regain his erection if he loses it.

It's common for sex therapy to be used along with medications for erectile dysfunction. Healthcare providers often prescribe drugs to help men overcome performance anxiety in the short term and recommend sex therapy to help the couple work through the emotional component of the problem. Once confidence is restored, some men are able to have erections without taking Viagra or similar medications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.