Confiding in Others May Help Men, but not Women, Improve Sexual Well-Being

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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Allan


    May 7th, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    According to me,the reason why seeking professional help is not of much use is because people are often apprehensive or shy when it comes to talking about sex and are therefore not able to say everything as they would like to,to a professional.but this changes when they are talking to a friend or a known person.They can be free and more open and can put forth everything that’s on their mind.

  • Elliot


    May 7th, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Guys don’t talk to other guys about ED. Pals are for poker and football talk, not that. You see a doctor. But when you confide in a doctor it’s there in your notes, permanently. That’s why I wouldn’t go. I don’t want that in my file for everybody to read.

  • themuse


    May 7th, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    That’s silly talk. Your medical file is confidential. No doctor is going to risk ruining their reputation and career by sharing your information. Who do you think would be that interested anyway? :)

  • Sally


    May 8th, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    I don’t understand why more guys can’t find that level of friendship where they can share physical worries, sexual or otherwise. Women do that all their lives. I could tell you everything about my friend’s hysterectomy or my sister hating sex. Why is there such a divide?

  • Karen


    May 8th, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Of course treating women and men would be different in this scenario. They are totally different creatures and anyone who thinks that a one size fits all treatment is the way to go maybe should not be in the therapy field to begin with.

  • Jodie


    May 8th, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I think we need to prescribe them the Oprah show LOL. That will open their eyes. :)I’m surprised the study found that more men than women saw their doctor for sexual problems. Women don’t normally have to be dragged to the doctor as much as men do.

  • Tempest


    May 8th, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    We women have the periods, the kids, and the menopause. We’re used to being poked and prodded by doctors throughout our lives. Men aren’t. The men in my family don’t like getting physicals or talking about any ailment because they feel it’s weak. Which is weird because it takes a strong person to go see a doctor about a problem they’re uncomfortable discussing.

  • Cameron


    May 9th, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    Ideally they should be talking to their spouse or friend, then a doctor too, surely. It shouldn’t be either/or. Although one is better than none. A problem shared is a problem halved.

  • Rene


    May 10th, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    Women feel like they are being judged harshly when they confide in others about their sexuality and sex lives. For many of us we think that other women are automatically thinking that if we are not fulfilled then it has something to do with what we are doing wrong, that it must in some ways be our fault. And as a female I have to admit that I have thought those things about others before too. So this can kind of be a tricky situation to find someone who will listen and give good advice without making you feel like you are the guilty party or to blame for what may not be going right in the bedroom.

  • beer.pong


    May 10th, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    it may just be because men are more comfortable and open while talking to someone regarding their sexual problems or other related issues.women are,well,not quite as open…

  • Gary


    June 14th, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    It is difficult, and often impossible, for men to be open about intimate aspects of their life when the popular and often profitable cultural label for men is “incompetence”. I mean, really… how many truly positive images of men do any of us see in popular culture and the electronic social mediums. Few, very, very few. One thing men truly dislike is being made fun of and if you are a man and someone makes fun of you or humiliates you or your gender, you simply withdraw from legitimate interaction and meaningful communication with the cultural elements that humiliate you and make you uncomfortable. It is not rocket science why men are the way they are… the culture shapes them… and so do the women. For many men, the sought after “commitment” by women is often interpreted as opening vulnerabilities than cannot be closed later. As a gender, men have no genetic difficulty committing to women, but some women mistake their lack of commitment to a specific relationship as a general weakness shared by all men. It isn’t! Commitment is always personal. Just because a man will not commit to a specific women does not mean they will not commit at all – just give us a woman who tempers the cultural humiliations and generalized stereotypes, and men will jump quick – and even talk about intimacy and related sexual issues.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on