Graham Prince, BA, MA, PgDip.

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What Are the Most Common Sexual Problems

Sexual problems can be divided into problems of performance (erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, dyspareunia) and problems of desire (low desire, sexual addiction, online porn addiction).

These problem are rarely just physical - anxiety, abuse, poor sex education, difficult early sexual experiences in adolescence, and aging can all contribute to problems of performance and desire - and they effect both individuals and their partners.

Regular counsellors or therapists are not always trained in how to treat these conditions. So whether it is a specific sexual problem or a problem in your relationship, a specialist sex therapist may be able to get you a solution much faster.


The most common problems that men and women bring into sex therapy are problems of performance and problems of desire.

In the case of men the performance problems usually centre around the strength of their erections or the speed of their ejaculation. Either the erections are not strong enough - erectile dysfunction - or they are ejaculating too fast - premature ejaculation - or ejaculating too slowly or not at all.

In the case of women the performance problems centre around discomfort or pain during penetrative sex - for example dyspareunia or vaginismus.

Performance problems can go wider than a physical problem. Perhaps people haven't had the experience of affectionate touch in childhood or in early sexual encounters in adolescence to enable them to be comfortable with sex. Or perhaps they have had an abusive experience at some point. So some people's performance may be hindered not by pain or discomfort but just by a lack of knowledge or inexperience in what to do. So there is learning and education to be done for people in that position.

When we come to desire, the problems centre on either having too much desire or too little desire.

Sexual desire can sometimes feel overwhelming for us, so we might feel that we cannot control it, that we are somehow compelled to use online pornography or masturbate excessively, or perhaps we are worried by intrusive sexual fantasies that we find shameful and hard to share with others. Desire can overwhelm us, it can be too much. But desire can also be too low, particularly as we grow older and our bodies change we may experience a decrease in sexual desire, and that is common for both men and women. The important thing is that these problems are not only upsetting and cause distress for individuals, but they also destabilise relationships too. The problems effect individuals but they also impact their partners too.

The difficulty with taking any of these problems to a regular counsellor or therapist is that they are not always specifically trained in the varied ways in which these conditions and problems can be treated. So whether it is a specific sexual problem that is bothering you or something more general or a problem in your relationship, it is important that you go and see a specialist sex therapist. They may just have the knowledge to deal with that specific problem and that means you will get a solution much faster.