5 Ways Therapy Can Improve Your Sex Life

Lesbian couple kisses at sunset

If the thought of sharing the nitty gritty details of your sex life with a stranger is enough to kill your libido, well, I don’t blame you. Trust me, I remember how insanely awkward I felt the first time I bought up something sex related to my therapist!

While opening up about such an intimate topic to anyone can be awkward, coming clean about the issues you’re dealing with to a therapist can be super-beneficial to your sex life. After mustering up the courage to bring up the awkward sex talk with your therapist, you can reap big-time benefits. Here are 5 ways therapy can help improve your sex life, as told by 5 people who have experienced it first hand.

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How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Fathers

Father with arm around son

Father’s Day is great time to celebrate the similarities that make us family, and differences that make us individuals. As kids, we looked to dad for strength and guidance in the face of life’s adversities. But who looked out for them?

For some fathers, stigma and toxic masculinity may have held them back from healing they desperately needed. In the United States, 6 million men suffer from depression. Men die by suicide over 3.5 times more than women. Yet only one in four seek help from a mental health professional.

The conversation is shifting, however, as mental health has been a highly discussed topic in 2018. The hope is that by addressing generational stigma around mental health, we can encourage men to seek the help they need. We asked our male therapists and coworkers how they view mental health differently than their fathers. Here’s what they had to say.

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MJ’s Story: Working Through Trauma of a Male Sexual Assault

Trans man standing by grey wall

My boyfriend and I lay in bed, his fingers twirling my chest hair as we talked about our plans for hysterectomies. I told him I saw the procedure as a safeguard against a worst case scenario. Hearing this, he looked so anguished, I nearly felt guilty.

“It makes me sad that you worry about that happening again” he said.

A few years ago, I told my 12-step sponsor about surviving sexual assault. He said we can’t resolve some experiences, we can only share our stories to help others realize they’re not alone. In other words, we can say, “me, too.”

Since getting sober in 2013, I’ve heard stories from several sexual assault survivors and I’ve told my own. Men don’t often discuss sexual assault or mental health, and while it’s not easy to share my story, I believe it’s crucial.

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How Therapy Got Me Through the Worst Year of My Life

Woman walking long path leading up to beach

Some years are better than others. Some of the “others” you’ll never forget because they change the course of your life forever. Last year was that year for me, and I’m still paying the price for it.

The year started off hopeful, but quickly dissolved into worry as I dealt with some physical health issues that required tests, follow-ups, and more appointments. As soon as that issue seemed to be under control, my depression, anxiety and OCD — all of which I’ve battled for half of my life — flared to levels I’d never experienced. Many days I could hardly get out bed, and I had a general sense of doom.

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Jack’s Story: My Identity In the Wake of Male Sexual Violence

Man looking forlorn

I was staying at my parents house for a summer internship before my senior year of college. It was an especially hot summer in LA, and I remember when I woke up that morning I couldn’t tell if what I was experiencing was a fever or if I had just forgotten what a real SoCal summer felt like. I remember sitting down on the toilet, looking between my legs and seeing blood. I remember thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

After one visit to my family doctor and then another to a specialist, I learned the man I had slept with the night before had left me with not one, but two treasures to remember him by: internal hemorrhoids with abrasions (the blood) and herpes (the fever). When I called to tell him, he didn’t answer. When I went to find him on the gay hook-up app where I had met him, his profile had disappeared. When I Googled his name and the hospital where he purported to work as a physician, I found nothing.

That’s the man who raped me. I don’t remember the name he gave me and I’m almost certain it was a lie, so let’s call him John R. Smith. The “R” stands for rapist.

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Why Black Men Face Greater Mental Health Challenges

A Black man bathed in red light

The emotional stoicism of Black men is something that few authors have talked about. Most notable of the few books on the topic, the author bell hooks’ work We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity discusses the lack of love and acceptance that Black men face, creating an emotional crisis.

Many men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships. At its worst, this budding resentment can manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. This is discussed further in Charlie Donaldson’s and Randy Flood’s book Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.

Many men (arguably most) struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing their emotions. And for those who grew up as sensitive boys, they are often subject to ridicule and shaming for what are natural and healthy expressions of emotion. Black men face a unique challenge in that most of what is most prized about them may be their looks or bodies, but rarely ever their intellect and emotional intelligence. These things are often deemed too soft for any Black man to experience, delivering the message that if you are those things then you must change…and fast.

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7 Men Breaking the Mold on Mental Health

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Understanding your mental health requires spending a lot of time analyzing and sitting with your thoughts — something that goes staunchly against everything the patriarchy stands for. Both men and women suffer from this culturally embedded misogyny: talking about your “feelings” is considered women’s work and an entirely unsuitable activity for manly men.

Mental health issues affect men and women equally, but men are less likely to seek help and more likely to die by suicide. In order to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, more men are coming forward publicly to share their struggles. Normalizing these issues for both men and women is an important step in our national mental-health conversation — and these seven men are leading the way.

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Why Don’t Men Ask for Mental Health Help?

man sitting starting out window over city

On January 17, 2010, Joshua R. Beharry stood on a British Columbia bridge, attempting to end his life.

Luckily, his attempt failed, and today Beharry is a mental health advocate and Project Coordinator of HeadsUpGuys, a British Columbia-based campaign to support men who have depression. He tells his story so that men, and all people with depression, can feel empowered to reach out.

“I didn’t really start out trying to reach men more specifically,” Beharry wrote to Talkspace in an email interview. “But through my work at HeadsUpGuys I’ve come to realize that a lot of guys go through similar issues and face similar barriers to reaching out as I did.”

Beharry is not alone. While more women than men attempt suicide, more men than women — 3.53 times more, in fact — complete it. This contradicts the widespread notion that depression, and other mental illnesses, are women’s diseases — and points to a serious gap in mental health resources for men. Researchers have found that while factors like racial discrimination and cost of mental health care prevent men from reaching out for mental health help, there’s another culprit: toxic masculinity, or harmful stereotypes about what it means to be a man.

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How Science Says Meditation Eases Anxiety (and 4 Simple Ways to Begin)

Snorkeler dives toward meditating buddha

Whether it is a looming work deadline, pressure at school, or a case of FOMO brought on by social media, stress and anxiety are, unfortunately, a normal part of this modern age. But, just because you experience these uncomfortable feelings, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, practicing mindful meditation is a low-cost, scientifically proven way to help reduce your anxiety ― and anyone can do it.

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Attempting to Understand Suicide

Hands reaching out to each other with a sunset background

In light of the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, and headlines that suicide rates have climbed in the past twenty years, suicide has become a topic that is widely covered in the media.

Many sociologists and epidemiologists attribute increased suicide rates at least partially to economic variables. Suicide rates often rise in times of economic uncertainty, like the most recent recession, since this makes people feel more scared and hopeless. The opioid crisis may also play a part. You can read more about these theories here.

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