Though it may be a difficult topic for some clients to consider and discuss, sexual well-being can play a crucial role in overall happiness and mental health, and experiencing a poor sex life or harboring negative thoughts about one’s ability can be detrimental to daily mood and functioning. People who experience sexual well-being concerns are typically counseled to talk with a physician about any physical issues, but a study recently carried out at Oregon State University has found that the benefits of talking with a doctor can be minimal. Instead, the study suggests, those with erectile dysfunction and other concerns may benefit most from talking with partners and friends about the issue. Interestingly enough, however, the study found that the same behaviors in women may not be of help at all –and can actually make negative feelings worse.
The study was based on data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, and investigated the cases of a number of men and women who reported at least one problem in bed such as a lack of interest in sex or difficulty with lubrication. The researchers found that despite modern practices and commonly-held beliefs about medical consultation for such issues, speaking with a doctor did little to improve attitudes towards the sexual self. Men who confided in a friend or partner were found to show improvement over time, whereas women who took part in the same activity exhibited worse feelings about sex –suggesting that treatment types may need to be highly specialized according to sex.
The findings have been welcomed by the researchers as unexpected but very telling in their ability to highlight a need for further research and an investigation of the appropriateness of modern treatment techniques. The work is likely to be received with interest by therapists and medical doctors as well as by those clients who have followed traditional advice without experiencing much, if any, change in their sexual well-being.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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