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What does a sex therapist do?

A sex therapist helps people with sexual problems.

Sex therapists are qualified counsellors, doctors or healthcare professionals who have done extra training in helping people with problems relating to sex.

Lots of people have a problem with sex at some point in their life. Some people can help themselves. For others, sexual problems can cause a lot of distress and unhappiness.

A sex therapist can help people with various sexual problems, including:

  • lack of desire
  • difficulty having an orgasm
  • pain during sex or inability to have penetrative sex
  • difficulty getting or keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • premature ejaculation or other ejaculation problems

A sex therapist will listen to you describe your problems and assess whether the cause is likely to be psychological, physical or a combination of the two.

Each therapy session is confidential. You can see a sex therapist by yourself, but if your problem affects your partner as well, it may be better for you both to attend.

Talking about and exploring your experiences will help you get a better understanding of what is happening and the reasons. The therapist may also give you exercises and tasks to do with your partner in your own time.

Sessions usually last for 30 to 50 minutes. The therapist may advise you to have weekly sessions or to see them less frequently, such as once a month.

If you have a sexual problem, it's a good idea to see a GP first as they can check for any physical causes. The GP can refer you to a sex therapist if they think it will help you. However, sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas, and an NHS clinic may only offer a limited number of therapy sessions.

You can also find a sex therapist privately, which you'll need to pay for. It's important to see a qualified registered therapist. Look for one who is a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.

Organisations such as Relate also offer sex therapy for a fee.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.