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Sex Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction: Benefits, How It Works, and More

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 02/06/2021

Updated 05/19/2024

If you’re experiencing sexual problems, like issues getting or maintaining an erection, you might be wondering about the benefits of sex therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED).

Sexual dysfunction — whether it’s affecting intimate time with a sexual partner or masturbation — can impact your sense of self. 

Medication can help with some issues in the bedroom, including ED, but human sexuality is complex. Some sexual concerns might require looking at an area of your life that may not seem totally connected to your penis: your mental health.

This is where sex therapy comes in. For many men, sessions with a certified sex therapist can help address problems with sexual desire or fill in sexual education gaps.

This form of talk therapy can help you work through what’s interfering with your sex life, from past sexual trauma to anxieties over lack of sexual experience.

Below, we’ll cover what sex therapy is, discuss what a sex therapist does, and share examples of what you can see a sex therapist for. We’ll also offer tips for finding the right sex therapist for your needs.

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Sex therapy is a specialized form of counseling designed to help you (and, in many cases, your partner) treat sexual issues.

Depending on your specific problem, sex therapy might involve: 

  • Learning more about your sexual health and needs as an individual

  • Overcoming anxiety or nervousness about sex

  • Improving intimacy with your partner 

Talking to a stranger about your sex life can feel awkward, especially at first. But most sex therapists will go out of their way to make you feel relaxed, comfortable, and focused on making progress.

If you (and your partner, if you’re doing couples sessions) are willing to work with a therapist, sex therapy can definitely be effective.

You probably won’t see immediate results from sex therapy. But over time, you may achieve real improvements in your relationship, sexual performance, and level of sexual satisfaction. 

There’s no official list of problems a sex therapist can “solve.” That’s mainly because sex therapy isn’t really about treating your symptoms — it’s about getting to the root of what’s causing symptoms like sexual arousal issues.

By focusing on potential underlying emotional causes, sex therapy can help address ED symptoms.

Common issues discussed and treated in sex therapy include relationship problems, sexual performance anxiety, and other sex-related challenges. 

You might consider seeing a sex therapist if:

Sex therapists can specialize in different things, so it’s worth exploring providers to see who might fit your needs best.

Wondering if sex therapy for men can work for physical problems like erectile dysfunction? It can, in some cases.

A recent study published in Sexual Medicine looked at the effects of cognitive behavioral sex therapy (CBT) on young men with nonorganic erectile dysfunction (NOED) — a form of ED linked to psychological issues like anxiety and depression.

We should note that this was a very small study. But the researchers found that cognitive-behavioral sex therapy improved participants’ “erection scores” and reduced the severity of their ED.

Interestingly, this study also featured a control group of men with nonorganic ED who received treatment with the ED medication sildenafil (generic Viagra®). The researchers found that sex therapy and sildenafil had similar positive effects on reducing ED.

The men who did cognitive behavioral sex therapy also reported a bigger improvement in anxiety scores than those who took sildenafil. 

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Contrary to popular belief, sex therapy doesn’t involve any sexual contact between you and your partner (at least, not during the sessions) or you and your therapist.

Instead, it addresses your problems and seeks practical, results-focused solutions to help you overcome them.

A sex therapist may offer different types of therapy to help you work through your issues, including

In couples therapy, they may address relationship issues or work with you and your partner, instead of just you.

Sex therapy offers several benefits, including improvements to your sexual health, bedroom performance, overall well-being, and quality of life. 

If you think your ED is related to a psychological issue, sex therapy may help you identify underlying factors rather than simply using medication to improve your performance.

Sex therapy for erectile dysfunction can also have benefits for your relationship — many couples report better enjoyment from sex.

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Many people will tell you that the hardest part of sex therapy isn’t getting into the things that embarrass you in your sex therapy sessions — it’s finding the right therapist.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can use online directories to find a sex therapist. The easiest way to find a sex therapist near you is with online tools like the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), a directory that lists licensed sex therapists in your area.

  • Your health insurance provider might be able to help. If you have health insurance, you can reach out to your provider to ask about sex therapists covered by your plan. It’s also okay to ask your primary care provider for a referral.

  • You can try a simple Google search. Googling “erectile dysfunction therapist near me” or “sex therapist” along with your city or region should bring up local websites for sex therapists offering their services. 

  • You might want to try virtual therapy platforms. Visiting a therapist’s office might not be necessary. If you’re struggling to find in-person care or want a more convenient experience, you might consider online therapy, which can provide the same benefits in the comfort of your home.

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Sex therapy can be an effective treatment option for many sex-related issues, including erectile dysfunction. If you’re unsure if you need help, our advice is to talk to a mental health professional to get their input. They may suggest other treatments or point you in the direction of therapy. 

Keep the following in mind about sex therapy for erectile dysfunction:

  • Research shows that sex therapy may be especially effective for ED caused by psychological factors.  This includes anxiety, depression, or nervousness about sex. If you have ED and think a psychological issue could be the cause, consider reaching out to a sex therapist.

  • You can also talk to your primary care provider or reach out to a licensed healthcare provider online. They can give you more information about treating erectile dysfunction or other sexual health issues. Keep in mind sex therapy is far from the only ED treatment option available, and sexual dysfunction can also result from physical causes.

  • Even if medication is helping with your ED, sex therapy might still be worthwhile. One of the biggest potential benefits of sex therapy is that it can cause significant improvements in your sex life and relationship, often without the use of medication. 

  • Medications like Viagra can help, but they’re not a solution for sexual health roadblocks stemming from emotional issues. Although medications like sildenafil and tadalafil can make getting an erection easier, they aren’t designed to treat anxiety or nervousness about sex.

Want help? We can start you off in the right direction with our erectile dysfunction treatments

We offer generic versions of several ED pills, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who’ll determine if a prescription is appropriate. That includes our chewable ED meds hard mints.

You can also check out our blog for topics like natural ways to protect your erection and premature ejaculation treatments.

5 Sources

  1. Assalian P. (2013). Psychological and interpersonal dimensions of sexual function and dysfunction.
  2. Bilal A, et al. (2020). Cognitive Behavioral Sex Therapy: An Emerging Treatment Option for Nonorganic Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men: A Feasibility Pilot Study.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2017). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction.
  4. Roushar A. (2016). What happens during sex therapy?.
  5. Weir K. (2019). Sex therapy for the 21st Century: Five emerging directions.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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