Many aspects of your life are out of your hands when you have a chronic illness. In most cases, you’ll never know when you’ll feel better or what medical issue you’ll face next. My Spoonies Can Have Great Sex Too series was motivated by the fact that there are ways to take back control and enjoy the best sex life imaginable.
What is a sex-positive doctor or therapist?
Sex-positive In order to provide their patients with accurate, helpful, and non-judgmental information regarding sexual health, doctors and therapists strive to be well-versed in the subject matter. There is no embarrassment or criticism from them regarding your lifestyle, sexual habits, or sexual preferences when it comes to discussing sex, and they’ll be able to do so without being judgmental
I’m not into anything kinky… why do I need a doctor/therapist who is sex-positive?
“Everyone deserves access to sex-positive health care,” stated Dr. Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. In addition to those who identify as LGBT, poly or kinky people, it is essential for everyone. Also deserve sex-positive doctors and a secure place to bring their complete self, including their sexual concerns, are heterosexual, monogamous, and vanilla people.” The desire to have a happy sex life is universal, regardless of one’s lifestyle. Make sure you’re doing the correct things to care for your body as part of that. Having a medical expert who you can honestly discuss your sex life with can be helpful.
Are there other benefits to finding a sex-positive doctor or therapist?
Even if you don’t have a chronic illness, discussing sex or sexual health issues can be difficult. For the most part, I’m uncomfortable bringing up the subject of sex with my doctors or in my writing (obviously). When your doctor appears to be just as uncomfortable as you are about talking about sex, the situation becomes much more unpleasant. Study after study shows that most medical students aren’t receiving adequate training in addressing and discussing sexual concerns with their patients. This is something I’ve read about and experienced myself. In a survey of 141 medical schools in North America, 54.1 percent of medical students were only given between three and ten hours of sexual health training, which is ludicrous.’
When it comes to sexual health and how to talk about it, it’s a topic that requires its own essay (and I have a lot of opinions about it, so I’ll probably write it at some time). Having a doctor who is awkward when you seek for help with a legitimate problem is the last thing anyone needs, and I think we can all agree on that. Because sex-positive doctors and therapists go out of their way to study more about sexual health concerns, they tend to be better knowledgeable on the subject than their peers.
Okay, so how do I find one?
You have to be aware that not everyone’s insurance will allow them to choose any doctor they want, and just because a doctor or therapist is out gay doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for you as a patient. Kink-Aware Professionals is a great place to start if your insurance allows you to do so, regardless of whether kink is your thing or not. (FYI, this database also includes other professions as well—including accountants, lawyers and web designers—just in case you’re looking for a new job.)
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to see a psychologist, but you need to locate a good one to talk with first. A terrible “relationship” is simpler to locate than a good one, because it’s similar to dating. Search the AASECT directory to find an AASECT-accredited therapist who is open to working with people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Despite the fact that the AASECT directory is a fantastic resource, the therapists in the list are only those who specialize in sexuality. There are lots of non-sex therapists who are sex-positive if you’re searching for a more broad mental health expert who is comfortable discussing sexuality/sexual health issues. Psychology Today provides a terrific database of mental health specialists that I’ve found quite helpful, and it’s not just for sex-positive professionals. In addition to a brief biography and a list of treatments they specialize in, the majority of the persons on this list also provide a link to their personal website, where you may learn more about their practices and views.
Try to leave a note or question for the doctor when you phone to set up an appointment if your insurance doesn’t allow for as much choice in picking a doctor, or if you want to make sure you’ve picked the proper one before your visit. To see if a doctor is a good fit for you, you may always ask more questions during your first meeting with him or her. A rare sickness that few doctors are well-versed in has caused me to frequently leave a note for the doctor to see if they’d be able or ready to learn more about my condition (ideally before I take off from work and trek out to their offices).
Yikes! I’m nervous about finding a sex-positive doctor (or therapist). Any tips?
If you’re not sure a certain doctor would be comfortable addressing your sexual health concerns, ask. It’s fine to be direct and ask things like:
There’s something bothering me about . How comfortable are you talking about and treating that?”
The question is, “Do you see a lot of patients with comparable problems or concerns?”
Even if they say no, you still have the option of looking for a doctor who can and will treat you.
A short phone conversation before your initial meeting with a therapist ensures that they’re capable of treating you, making the process a little less daunting. During this call, you should feel free to ask any questions you may have and make sure the person you’ll be speaking with is someone you can trust. You have nothing to lose by making this quick phone call, and it’s typically free as well. It is important to know that not all psychologists are covered by health insurance, and others are only covered by particular types of insurance, so be sure to inquire.
Any other thoughts?
Even if your medical experts don’t understand what’s going on inside of your body, there’s a tendency for you to have to justify your decisions to them since they don’t get it. Doctors that appreciate your priorities and are educated about the issues you’re dealing with make things a little simpler.
Not only are sex-positive doctors and therapists more likely to meet these criteria, but they’re also more likely to be knowledgeable about sexual health issues, which should make it easier for you to seek their assistance if you need it.
8 Signs a Sex Therapist Might Improve Your Life
You may have jokingly told pals that you don’t need treatment because you already have it. A impartial third person who also happens to be a licensed professional can be helpful while working through the tough stuff. A sex therapist may be your best bet if you’re struggling with issues related to sex. A sex therapist could be an excellent addition to your life, so here are eight things to look for in a therapist, and how to locate one.
You’re experiencing pain or physical difficulty when you try to have sex.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact a doctor first to rule out any health concerns, a trained sex therapist and somatic (body-based) psychologist tells SELF. Things like cervical inflammation caused by an STD, endometriosis, and fibroids can all lead to excruciating discomfort during sex. Medical treatment may be useful in such a case, since it may assist alleviate sexual difficulties.
Even if you visit a doctor and discover that your problem with sex has nothing to do with your physical health, the gravity of your situation does not diminish. According to Richmond, seeing a sex therapist to talk about any underlying psychological issues can be beneficial.
For instance, vaginismus, which causes painful vaginal muscle spasms during penetration, can stem from anxiety about having sex, according to the Cleveland Clinic. (This could include fear that it would be painful despite the fact that the underlying cause has been addressed.) Post-traumatic stress disorder from a sexual assault might also be a factor. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of psychological factors, including stress.
Because the mind and body are often so interwoven, painful sex is a reasonable reason to see a sex therapist.
You’re processing sexual trauma.
It’s a myth that trauma renders its victims incapable of sexuality. An attack survivor can still have fun with their sexuality years after the incident occurred, thanks to the assistance of a professional sexual therapist.
Of course, each person’s recovery from a sexual attack is unique. Some people choose to work with an expert in the field of sexuality rather than a more generalist mental health provider. Therapists often talk about the trauma, but they don’t address how we may move ahead as our sexual identities, adds Richmond. It is their job to process the trauma and move forward in order to help you and your partner engage in sexual activity. From “survivor” to “thriver,” we can help you get there. As long as they’re not specifically trained in sexual assault, therapists who don’t specialize in sex can still help you heal. A sex therapist, on the other hand, is perfect if you want to focus on the sexual element.
You’re in a partnership with mismatched desires.
Liz Powell, Ph.D., a sex therapist who frequently encounters couples with disparate sexual preferences, tells SELF that this might signify a variety of things, such that one spouse has a higher libido than the other or is more interested in exploring a kink like BDSM.
Even while having a kink is becoming more acceptable, it can still be nerve-wracking to open out about it. A sex therapist can help with this. There was a couple who came to Richmond for help since the guy was having trouble with the girl’s desire to explore his submissive side in a particular way. It was impossible for her partner to call her what she wanted to be called: a slut or a whore. That’s why we had to come up with a different plan for how she could accomplish her goal,” Richmond adds.
You may need the help of a sex counselor if you realize that your relationship isn’t working because of a lack of compatibility. There is a fear of breakups in many individuals, Powell adds, and many prefer to stay in a relationship even if they don’t feel good about it. You and your partner may benefit from seeing a therapist together in order to determine if the relationship can be saved or if it should be brought to an amicable end.
You want to explore opening up your relationship.
Powell, who specializes in LGBTQ+ groups, kink, and polyamory, encounters this type of situation pretty frequently. They can help the couple create an arrangement that allows them both to feel comfortable and content in their relationship. Everything from being able to have a one-night stand once a year while abroad to having several partners can fall under this umbrella.
To ensure that neither one is merely capitulating to something like an open relationship because of pressure (even internal pressure) and that both couples respect each other’s boundaries—even if that means splitting up—having an impartial, trained individual engaged can be beneficial.
You have questions about your gender identity.
Gender equality is getting closer. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a measure that allows for the inclusion of the third gender on birth certificates in New York City.
According to recent news from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), gender should be defined by the person’s genitalia at birth, rather than by their current gender identity. In fact, (It isn’t).
It can be difficult to find the correct words or expression for your gender in light of the ongoing battle to ensure that everyone’s identity is acknowledged. A sex therapist, especially one who is LGBTQ+ friendly, may be able to help you either alone or with a partner, adds Powell.
You’re exploring your sexual orientation.
As with gender, a sex therapist can help you navigate questions about your sexual orientation, reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with you, and aid you in your journey of self-discovery. In a monogamous relationship, this can be especially helpful for those who are having sexual curiosity for people of other genders, adds Powell.
Inquiring about whether or not you are asexual or would like to talk about being asexual may also benefit from seeing a sex therapist. “Some people assume it’s the role of a sex therapist to help people have more sex and crazier sex, and [it’s] definitely not,” adds Richmond. “You’re not required to engage in any sexual activity. I’m fine with it as long as you’re okay with it.”
You’re a current or former sex worker or dating someone who is.
There are many couples in which one of the partners is or was a sex worker, according to Richmond. Sex therapy can help people discover and eliminate any negative self-perceptions they may have about the field. “That’s something to be ashamed of in many people’s thoughts because of our cultural lens,” Richmond argues. “That’s not how I see it,” I respond.
When dating someone in the adult business, it might be difficult for the non-sex worker to distinguish between the sex job of their partner and their own sexual desires, according to Richmond. Although it can be difficult to help someone separate their identity from the “adult industry,” she says, “you’re just dating another person,” which is all that matters in the end.
You want to overcome sexual shame.
You’ve probably picked up on something by now. A sex therapist can help you deal with shame, even if that shame is completely undeserved, from gender identity to surviving an assault to sex work and more. (As is the case with all of the items listed above.)
Most people who see Powell and Richmond want to know if they’re “normal,” according to them. A healthy sex life isn’t possible when you’re filled with shame, because it makes you feel like you’re not. However, it can be nearly impossible to avoid. Powell believes that most people may benefit from seeing a sex therapist because they grew raised in such a shame-filled culture. A sex therapist may be able to assist you in resolving any issues that are preventing you from enjoying the love or sex life you’ve always desired.
How many hours of training in human sexuality do you have?
People who work in the mental health area are more likely than the average to have poor sexual health. Historically, academics have not adequately prepared future mental health professionals to deal with issues related to sexology, sex therapy, and other aspects of human sexuality. Specialized programs outside of the university system tend to provide training in sex-related therapy. A lot of stuff is good, but a lot of it isn’t either.
How do you feel about porn use and sex work?
Porn can be used for both therapeutic and health purposes. Studies demonstrate that countries with more open views about sex and porn had lower rates of sex crimes, lower rates of teen pregnancies, and lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). More female gaze porn can assist raise self-esteem for non-normative bodies, open up new avenues of sex, provide people who aren’t with a relationship the opportunity to experience more intimate times on their own, and remind people that solo sex isn’t their partner’s property.
It’s a myth that sex workers are “daddy-issued” or “broken” victims of sex trafficking. Social stigma, lack of cultural support, and sex shaming all contribute to sex workers’ mental health concerns. As a necessary societal counterbalance, these rebels educate us all what sexual independence and freedom really look like.
How do you feel about non-monogamy and casual sex?
Sex and dating were most likely taught to be a means to an end, with the ultimate goal of marriage and procreation in mind; however, this is no longer the case. Polyamory, non-monogamy, and polyamory are all forms of healthy sex and relationships that can exist. They can be about having a good time, meeting new people, and being casual, with no long-term plans in mind.
Have you worked with trans clients?
All genders are not created equal, and not everyone’s gender is defined by the binary of male/female. There are still segregated restrooms and just two gender selections on most intake forms. Men with vaginas and clits are referred to as “dicks.” Ignoring gender roles and gender norms and not questioning gendered thinking is the true problem (especially within sex, dating, and relationships).
Have you worked with the LGBTQIA community?
Good treatment encourages and fosters romantic relationships between people of all sexes, shapes, and sizes. Non-penetrative sex, anal, fisting, PREP, sex apps, same sex parenthood and bi phobia are all topics that can be discussed by a sexually healthy therapist. Non-heterosexual customers are typically treated using a heteronormative model (Gay Affirmative therapy still centers a hetero model). Intersectionality shows us that no one lad has a single issue existence, and that other identities decide numerous big differences. There is no gay psychology or psyche.” One should not reduce or limit one’s identity solely to one’s sexual preferences.
What types of sex do you consider dysfunctional?
Not only does the mental health community still employ the sexually abusive phrase “sex addiction,” but it also ignores how sex may be therapeutic and restorative and devalues sex as a genuine method of closeness building (“have less”, “wait to have it”). A diverse range of sexual expression, including kink, BDSM, and other forms of non-traditional sexuality, are all part of a person’s sexual well-being. In order to be considered healthy, sexual minorities do not have to adhere to the puritanical definitions of the cultural majority about how they should exist in the world.
Are you sex positive? Please explain what that means to you
Your character and whether or not you contribute to the betterment of the world are what determine your value. Not because of your sexual orientation (unless its unethical and non -consensual). As a result of the psychological labor it takes to be sexually confident in our culture, having more sex really makes you healthier and more honest.” It’s important for your therapist to understand that the main problem is often not sex, but rather cultural worry and skepticism about sexuality.
How do you define female sexual empowerment?
Those who openly like sex, have a lot of sex, or prioritize sex are viewed with mistrust by most of us, especially women, without any critical examination. To be healthy, you don’t have to limit yourself to one or two sex partners. Sexism is a taboo subject, and many people find it upsetting to hear of a woman who has had too much of it or too many partners.
What role does masturbation play in healthy sexuality?
To relieve oneself, deal with stress, and enjoy oneself, sex is one of the most effective ways to do it (or others). Just as it’s good for you to do things like yoga or play basketball with your friends, having sex is also good for you. Your mental health, your pelvic floor, and your mood all benefit from daily masturbation. Masturbation should be more frequent.
Do you support the idea of more than two genders and self-identification?
Not only are gender norms and gender roles a social construct, but concepts like a male and female brain or psychology problematically collapse highly complex and diverse ways of being into one monolithic identity. It is up to each individual to decide on their own gender and label, and then to have it acknowledged and appreciated.
Do you support bisexuality, asexuality, solo sexuality, sexual fluidity, and fetish sexuality?
Because not everyone in the mental health field understands that “different is not a disorder,” I work with individuals who are asexual, solo sexual (interested in masturbation only), pansexual, fluid, and into items rather than people.
Do you support or use the “sex addiction” diagnosis or treatment model?
Non-normative and relational sexuality is being thrown away because of the sex addiction diagnosis. Working with sex addiction patients who have spent years in therapy has taught me that our job is all about deprogramming the shame they have been ingrained with. The treatment paradigm for sex addiction suggests that all heterosexual and monogamous values are healthy sex and overlooks the norms and values of other sexual minorities (masturbation, porn, kink, hooking up, sex worker use, and sex for emotional regulation). This is sexism, prejudice, and sexual abuse in the most heinous sense of the words.