Many people experience sexual difficulties at some point during their life, sometimes these problems will resolve themselves but if they don’t then professional help may be required. Sexual difficulties can occur early in an individual’s life, develop suddenly after a previously satisfying sex life or develop gradually. It is important that physical factors are ruled out before hypnotherapy is sought, so consulting your GP should be your first step.
Sexual difficulties are generally problems that prevent the individual or couple from enjoying sex, and make sex difficult. The most common sexual problems for men are erectile impotence and premature ejaculation, and for women, failure to reach orgasm or vaginismus.
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Sexual pain disorders
Dyspareunia is characterised by persistent pain with sexual activity. This is usually during penetration but can also occur during non-penetrative stimulation too. Pain can be at the vaginal opening or deep inside and can be extremely distressing, leading to a negative cycle of avoidance of sexual activity, anorgasmia or ISD. Pain may be due to pelvic flammatory disease, IBS, endometriosis or ovarian cysts (this list is not exhaustive and does not include psychological causes). Some causes of dyspareunia include sexual trauma, vuvlvovaginitis or inadequate lubrication.
Vaginismus is a condition affecting a women's ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration. Some women’s symptoms are so severe that they may avoid any sexual contact all together. Involuntary spasms of the vaginal muscles interfere with penetration and vaginismus is quite often the result of physical or sexual abuse. However other causes include religious beliefs, relationship difficulties or the fear of pregnancy.
Inhibited sexual desire (ISD)
Inhibited sexual desire (ISD) is the persistent loss of desire for sexual activity. It is common for sexual desire to fluctuate during an individual's life, however if the problem persists it may be time to seek help. ISD is more common in women than men, however it can affect men too. Decreased sexual desire can be caused by depression, fatigue, stress, pregnancy, ageing, anxiety or relationship problems, however it can also be caused by a decrease in oestrogen or testosterone levels. If testosterone deficiency is the cause of ISD, replacement therapy is often recommended. If not, an appropriate specialist is helpful to try and determine the underlying cause.
Anorgasmia is a condition characterised by an absence or persistent delay of orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase. Individuals suffering from anorgasmia often experience a strong sexual desire and adequate arousal but are unable to achieve orgasm.
Premature ejaculation (PE)
Premature ejaculation is characterised by a lack of voluntary control over ejaculation. Although most men will experience this at least once during their life (often during their first sexual experiences) they soon learn ejaculatory control. Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual problem for men and research suggests it affects approximately 25-40% of males. The condition can be associated with performance anxiety, depression, sexual repression and lack of confidence. Sex therapists or psychologists can use a series of exercises to enable men to gain ejaculatory control, most commonly the so-called start-stop technique.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) / impotence
Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) is a condition characterised by the inability to develop or maintain an erection. Occasional impotence is common and often caused by stress or performance anxiety, however if the problem persists, professional help may be required.
Treatment for sexual problems
If you’re experiencing sexual difficulties it is important to first contact your GP to rule out any physical factors. Psychosexual therapy (PST) has proven success rates and is often referred to by GPs and other medical professionals. Sex therapists are trained counsellors who've undertaken extra training in psychological and physical issues related to sexual functioning and they are able to deal with almost any sexual problems that are causing distress.
Hypnotherapy may also be beneficial for individuals who want to release negative or limiting beliefs by identifying the triggers that started them. Learning how to manage and deal with them may then be possible. Hypnoanalysis therefore, may help to identify the root cause of the issue and deal with it.
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