Many people embark on psychosexual and relationship therapy because, frankly, they want to have better sex! They come (pardon the pun) because sex is not working for them. For some, the reasons for this are evident and for others the causes for their less than satisfactory sex lives, appear to be elusive.
For many, a disappointing sex life or a lack of desire for sex can be extremely distressing and for others it can be like living with a constant, underlying niggle, like a piece of grit in one’s shoe. Either way, living with something that is amiss and unresolved is uncomfortable to say the least and can cause bigger issues, for individuals and couples, if unattended to.
Like making a cake, there are many different components that contribute to a ‘good’ sex life, and similarly to making a cake, if an ingredient is missing or spoiled then the whole thing can be ruined.
So, what are the ingredients of ‘Good’ Sex?
There are lots of contributory factors that influence our sex life, and some of the most common are:
Communication, Communication, Communication!! I cannot stress the importance of good communication enough in life generally; it’s pretty crucial to functioning well. The majority of people could benefit hugely from improving their communication.
What I mean by good communication is the ability to communicate with ourselves and our partners. Knowing what you think and feel emotionally is pretty widely accepted as important. However, what about your body? If I asked you what your vagina or penis feels like right now – would you know?
One of the major problems that I see in my practice is a lack of connection / communication with our bodies; most people have lost touch with their bodies, spending the majority of their lives in their heads, overthinking or worrying, and this can cause a multitude of problems in life, and it becomes particularly problematic when it comes to sexual functioning. We need to retrain our bodies, switch them back on and re-connect.
Knowing what we like and dislike and being able to communicate it, and I’m not just talking about in the bedroom, or wherever else you are having sex, I’m talking about ALL communication with your partner. If the communication is ‘off’, you can bet that the sex will be too.
Other relationship issues that can lead to a less than satisfactory sex life, or indeed a complete absence of a sex life, are, amongst others, resentment, fear and distrust. There is nothing like this trio to disrupt a couple’s sex life. In addition, overt or underlying conflicts that are present in the relationship will also result in less than optimal sex. The relationship we have with our partner is a fundamental ingredient in a good sex life. What state is your relationship in? When did you last have a relationship M.O.T? Disappointing sex can be a difficult and worrying subject to raise with a partner, and although it can be perceived as an issue belonging to one partner, inevitably you will both be affected.
In some cases, it is the body that betrays. Issues such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, painful sex (dyspareunia), vaginismus and anorgasmia all have a detrimental impact on sexual functioning and can cause huge distress; as one may imagine.
These conditions can emanate from psychological and emotional issues (inorganic issues), such as: relationship issues, lack of connection with the body, childbirth, negative body image, negative or traumatic sexual experiences, or from the shame we have developed as children as a consequence of messages that we have received about sex and who we are.
They can also be medical in origin (organic) for example: vascular disorders, diabetes, cancers, medication side effects, to name a few. Regardless of their origin, it is important to know that if you are experiencing one of these conditions you don’t have to suffer, there are treatment options available within psychosexual therapy and medically.
Working with a qualified and accredited psychosexual and relationship therapist can be a positive and safe way forward to address sex and relationship problems, helping you, either as an individual or couple, to find solutions to enable you to experience a happier and more fulfilling sexual and relationship life.
Sarah Calvert UKCP, COSRT