Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Health

What causes sexual difficulties?

  • Sexual difficulties may be life-long or may begin in response to certain life events such as an illness, medical treatment, or change in a relationship.  Sometimes a life change such as retiring, job stress, or moving can cause changes in sexual functioning.

What sexual difficulties can be treated?

At the center for sexual health the following difficulties are addressed:

  • Absent or low sexual desire
  • Desire discrepancies in couples
  • Painful intercourse or penetration
  • Difficulties with erection or ejaculation
  • Inability to have orgasm
  • Problems associated with post-menopause, such as vaginal dryness
  • Problems associated with an illness, accident or medical treatment
  • Relationship counseling related to the sexual concern

What services are available at the clinic?

  • Comprehensive evaluation of problems or concerns
  • Recommendations for treatment
  • Education and counseling about sexual functioning
  • Referrals to medical providers
  • Short term or ongoing sex therapy for individuals and couples

What is a sex therapist?

  • A sex therapist is a licensed mental health professional: a practitioner with an advanced degree in social work, psychiatry, or psychology who has received special training to help people resolve sexual difficulties through counseling. Sex therapists are certified by The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). Sex therapists counsel individuals or couples. They teach sexuality education, as well as communication and stress reduction techniques.  They also give specific information to help resolve sexual problems.  No sexual activity is ever practiced in the therapist’s office. The sex therapist will listen and talk to you and help you find ways to overcome or adjust to your problem.  The sex therapist may suggest activities for you to try at home.

How long will I be followed by the clinic staff?

  • Some people have problems that can be addressed with brief education or reassurance, and one or two appointments may be sufficient.  Most problems, however, are more complicated, so it will take longer to address the problems. Everyone is unique but usually the sex therapist can give you a sense of about how long it may take to work on your problem.

What can I expect when I come to the clinic?

  • A sexual difficulty, like a medical difficulty, will require an evaluation. Sexual problems may have causes that are medical, psychological, or both. That is why you will begin with an evaluation with the sex therapist. Sex therapists are mental health professionals with special training in evaluating and counseling people about sexual problems.
  • The first time you see a sex therapist, you should plan to come a little early if you have never been registered at the University of Michigan Health System before. When you arrive at the clinic, you will be checked in by a receptionist. Your appointment will occur in an office and you will have privacy while discussing your concerns. At the end of the evaluation, your sex therapist will discuss treatment plans with you before you leave the appointment. In some cases, additional information may be needed from your physician.  You may also need an additional assessment by a medical provider. Your sex therapist will discuss this with you as well.

Will I be talking about my sex life?

  • Yes, you will be talking about your sex life. Very few people have been brought up to talk about sex in an easy, open way. It is normal for a person to feel anxious when anticipating their first appointment to the clinic. Your sex therapist understands this and will help you be more comfortable discussing sex.