If you had a sexual problem, what would you do?
Whether it’s premature ejaculation, vaginismus, pain during sex, inability to have an orgasm, or something else entirely, it’s estimated that almost half of sexually active adults experience some form of sexual problem.
It may surprise you to know that most people, according to the statistics, would not seek help. In fact, one global study found that less than 1 in 4 people with a sexual problem sought professional help (Moreira et al., 2005).
There are many reasons why someone who is struggling with a sexual problem would not seek professional help. These reasons vary slightly across cultures, ages, genders, and sexualities, but there are several core factors that may cause someone not to seek help. Let’s take a look at a few of these factors now.
Not realising they need help
This is one of the most common reasons that people don’t seek help. They may think that it’s normal, that it’s not serious enough to warrant seeking help, or that it will go away in time. However, while some sexual problems do indeed resolve on their own, many do not.
Feeling too uncomfortable to talk about it
This attitude is, unfortunately, also quite common. Even though the world is slowly becoming more sex-positive, for many people there is still a stigma attached to all things sex-related. This may prevent them from approaching a professional about a sexual problem.
For many people, the cost of going to see a professional about a sexual problem isn’t something they feel they can justify. The cost of seeking professional help can be high, but some clinics offer reduced rates for those who cannot afford the full price.
Unaware of services
Sometimes, it’s simply that people don’t know that there is help available. Since it’s perceived as quite a sensitive issue, those who know of or have experience of sex therapy services are often reluctant to share their knowledge with others. Even some healthcare professionals have reported feeling awkward about addressing this topic with their patients (Byrne et al., 2010).
You may notice that most of these factors are exacerbated by our tendency as humans to view sex and sexual problems as taboo topics. For example, thinking sexual problems are normal is often the result of inadequate or incomplete sex education. Likewise, feeling too uncomfortable to talk about sex may be a result of the culture of shame that society has created around sex and sexuality. For these reasons, among many others, it is really important that everyone has access to comprehensive sex education, and that we all move towards being able to have open conversations about our sexual wellbeing.
Even though the reasons discussed above are valid and understandable, it is very often worth getting professional help for a sexual problem, especially if you are worried about it or inconvenienced by it. There are many things that can cause sexual issues, and they can sometimes be an indicator that there is another problem. Whether the cause is biological, psychological or something else, seeking professional help can ease your mind and get you back on the path to a fulfilling and enjoyable sex life.
If you’re seeking help with a sexual problem, you can book an appointment with one of our professionals here.
Eva O’Byrne is an intern with Willingness team. She is currently completing a BA in Psychology at NUI Galway.
Byrne, M., Doherty, S., McGee, H. M., & Murphy, A. W. (2010). General practitioner views about discussing sexual issues with patients with coronary heart disease: A national survey in Ireland. BMC Family Practice, 11(1), 40. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2296-11-40
Konkan, R., Bayrak, M., Gönüllü, O. G., Senormanci, Ö., & Sungur, M. Z. (2012). Sexual function and satisfaction of women with vaginismus. Dusunen Adam, 25(4), 305.
Moreira, E. D., Brock, G., Glasser, D. B., Nicolosi, A., Laumann, E. O., Paik, A., Wang, T., & Gingell, C. (2005). Help-seeking behaviour for sexual problems: The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 59(1), 6–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2005.00382.x
Moreira, E. D., Kim, S.-C., Glasser, D., & Gingell, C. (2006). ORIGINAL RESEARCH—EPIDEMIOLOGY: Sexual Activity, Prevalence of Sexual Problems, and Associated Help-Seeking Patterns in Men and Women Aged 40–80 Years in Korea: Data from the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors (GSSAB). The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3(2), 201–211. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00210.x