The following is intended for readers 18+
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.
1. Overcoming Trauma
Trauma is hard to overcome and can have long-lasting effects. Hannah,* 27, was sexually abused as a child. It took her 6 months with a therapist to really share everything — and it was worth it. She openly shared painful details of her abuse, and her therapist helped her to realize none of it was her own fault. Additionally, she was given some helpful homework.
“My therapist started challenging me to do little things, like initiate touch with ‘safe’ people. I had to make a list of people who I felt safe with and my homework was to do something like clap them on the shoulder or give them a hug,” she recounts. “I hated that stuff at first and I kept avoiding it. But eventually I started doing it, and it became easier.”
Now, Hannah’s in a romantic relationship and able to take steps she never has before. “It was like pulling teeth before. Now it’s a lot more fun.”
2. Regaining Control of Your Sexuality
Throughout life, you may experience downfalls or hardships that can make you feel like you’ve lost control of your own body and sexuality, and that can be a lot to overcome! Amanda,* 30, dealt with both sexual trauma and medical issues that left her feeling defeated when it came to sex. After a pelvic surgery retriggered her rape PTSD symptoms, she headed to a therapist.
“I sought therapy to ‘fix’ myself, although I had no idea what that would look like or if it would even work,” she confesses. “Therapy plus rolfing plus some other pelvic pain techniques helped me regain control of my body; learning grounding techniques helped me get back to myself during dissociation spells.”
She adds, “I’ve regained some semblance of control over my body, brain, and sensuality and am now able to have a full sex life without being terrified of getting triggered during a sexual encounter.”
3. Building Confidence
Self esteem can play a big part in sex drive and quality of sex. Not to mention, if you don’t have great self confidence, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to get out there and date, let alone have sex.
Caroline,* 25, had low self esteem and severe social anxiety. Her best friend convinced her to make an appointment with the campus counselor, and things went uphill from there. “Soon, I was much more comfortable at parties and bars. It was like my thoughts became more organized and I could control it all a little better,” she explains.
“The following semester, I had the confidence to pursue hookups, feel comfortable taking some sexy selfies, and score a friend with benefits,” she said. I was always pretty shy and modest before, but I was able to see through my thinking and become more of who I wanted to be. If I never made that appointment in the health center, who knows if I would have ever made those changes.”
4. Learning to Communicate Better
When it comes to sexual and romantic relationships, communication is key. Adam,* 24, says learning about proper communication helped him build up his libido.
“Mostly just working through my depression and childhood trauma has allowed me to be more in tune with my sexuality and figure out what makes me tick and how to communicate, which led to being able to channel all of that better,” he shares.
Sometimes, depression is linked to communication issues. Working through depression and its effects with a therapist can help you understand yourself better and build up skills that can change the way you talk to people — sexual partners or not. You may also learn how to be more effective with your conversations with friends, family, and coworkers. It’s a win-win situation!
5. Coping with Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction is a common concern within sex therapy, but you can certainly bring it up to a general therapist as well. While many people feel ashamed of their dysfunction, coming clean to a therapist can help a lot. Taylor,* 24, has anorgasmia — which means she does not orgasm.
After a few years of suffering in silence, she told her therapist about her issue. “My therapist gave me homework and exercises to do by myself to get more in touch with my body and sexuality. She is also teaching me to accept my condition and stop beating myself up for it, since I often feel broken and lesser than other women due to my inability to orgasm,” she says. “I’m learning to focus more on feelings and sensations rather than just the end goal of orgasming. It’s hard work, but I’m getting there.”
It’s OK to Seek Help for Sex-Related Issues
There you have it! If you feel like your sex life is less than ideal, there is hope for you! Therapists are trained to deal with issues like this, and there’s a good chance they’ve helped someone in the exact same situation as you. So take a chance and share your thoughts with a therapist — it’ll be worth it!
* indicates names have been changed