No. But we do work closely with medical professionals to determine whether prescription drugs might help our joint patients.
Sex therapists work at the juncture of social, medical and psychological treatments for anxiety, depression and sexual performance issues. Our work with prescribed medications often involves looking at whether medications a person is taking are having an impact on his or her sex life.
Do Mental Health Drugs Cause Sexual Problems?
There’s a lot of contradictory information on the internet about the interplay between prescription drugs, depression, anxiety and sexual performance.
Over the last decade or so, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications have become so ubiquitous that clients often forget to tell me they are taking them. It’s critical that you inform your sex therapist or marriage counselor of any prescription medications you take.
As therapists, we need to understand the entire picture to effectively treat you. Many of us have training in the ways prescription drugs affect sexual desire and performance.
SSRIs and Erectile Dysfunction
Biology, psychology, social/environmental factors and a client’s health are all connected. Sexual issues are often layered.
For example, if someone enters therapy complaining about early ejaculation, I ask questions to understand how an apparent medical condition may influence a psychological condition—or vice versa.
It’s important that we discuss not only how the client feels after a sexual encounter, but before and during as well.
How a client shares about these episodes is important, because we all establish patterns based on experiences. If an experience is negative or traumatic, we will avoid getting into that situation again. These patterns can quickly enter our sexual relationships, with potentially damaging and long-lasting consequences.
Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressants like Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft can cause erectile dysfunction in some men.
How Prescription Drugs Intersect with Sex Therapy
I often consult with psychiatrists and physicians to ensure my client receive the medication that best treats their physical and emotional challenges, with the fewest negative side effects.
I collaborate with medical professionals to address the physical factors of a problem. Clients sometimes need:
- A referral to a urologist for a medical work-up
- A pelvic floor therapy consultation to gauge pelvic floor muscle tone
- A prescription medication to slow down sexual response
3 Things that Keep Depression and Anxiety Away—without Drugs
1. Talking to a Therapist
Bottling things up never helps. Talk therapy is a clinically proven way to address emotional and physical problems.
2. Getting Physical Exercise
Our bodies are built to move and not getting enough exercise can cause physical and emotional problems that may impact your mood and sex life.
3. Meditating, Praying, Doing Yoga, Taking Solo Walks in the Woods
Studies have shown that quietness can have surprising impacts on mental health. Any regular contemplative practice involving stillness is a valuable part of self-care. Making time daily–even 20 minutes–to relax diminishes anxiety and can reverse depression without the side effects of drugs.
When Prescription Drugs are the Answer
Prescription medications can be very helpful, but I explore them as last resort, because, in truth, nobody knows exactly how anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants work. And the side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, can have strong effects on sexual performance and your intimate relationship.
Ironically, the side effects of mental health meds can cause depression and anxiety!
If you think prescription drugs could be affecting your sexual performance, or you’re considering a prescription to treat a sexual issue, a sex therapy professional who works with couples in Charlotte could be an excellent treatment partner.
Masturbation is Good for You!
You may have been taught that masturbation is bad. In fact, whether you have a sex partner or not, masturbation has many health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Masturbation
Forget what you were taught in Catholic school or elsewhere about the “sin” of masturbation. Touching yourself for sexual pleasure is not only. Normal, it is actually good for you!
Masturbation is common—for people of all genders and ages. Even children learn early on, with no help from adults, that touching their genitals feels good. Children should be taught that masturbation, while natural and normal, is something to do in private.
Why and How We Masturbate
People have different reasons to pleasure themselves:
- It helps us relax
- It helps us understand our body’s sexual needs
- It releases sexual tension
- Our sex partner is not accessible
- It feels good
Many of my clients think masturbation is only for people without sex partners. That is not true at all (see below).
Some people masturbate often, others seldom or never. That’s all normal! We all masturbate in different ways, for different reasons. It is a totally personal decision, and there’s no “right” way to go about it.
Are You Allowed to Masturbate if You Are in a Relationship?
Absolutely! There are no rules. Lots of people in committed partnerships masturbate. It doesn’t mean your partner isn’t satisfying you.
Exploring your sexual anatomy is a great way to figure out what you like and what makes you climax. Then you can show or tell your partner what feels good to you.
Talking about sex with your lover can make it more fun and even make your bond stronger. Some people masturbate together, either in the same room or via the phone or computer. It’s a way to be sexual with each other without any risk of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy.
No, it is not bad for you. It doesn’t make you grow hair in strange places; it doesn’t cause infertility; and it won’t make your genitals smaller. It is not particularly addictive. Masturbation can actually be good for your mental and physical health. And it’s the safest sex around.
When you have an orgasm, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which block pain and provide feelings of euphoria. Whether you get the orgasm through masturbation or sexual encounters with another person, the feelings are the same.
In addition to the benefits listed above, masturbation can:
- improve sleep
- improve self-esteem and body image
- help treat sexual problems
- relieve muscle tension and menstrual cramps
- strengthen muscle tone in the areas affected
Masturbation also helps you discover your sexual desires:
- Where you want to be touched
- How much pressure feels good
- How quickly or slowly you like to be touched
Learning how to give yourself orgasms can make it easier to have one with a partner; you can demonstrate what works. And when you’re comfortable with sex, your body and talking to your partner about sex, you’re more likely be able to discuss preventing unintended pregnancy and STDs.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Self-Pleasuring?
People have solo sex every day, or even more than once a day. Others do it more like once a week, once every week or two, every now and then, or never. All of these scenarios are normal.
Masturbation only becomes “excessive” if it interferes with your job, your family responsibilities, and/or your social life. If that’s the case, please seek out a counselor or therapist to discuss sex addictions.
If you were taught that masturbating is wrong or bad, you may feel guilt or shame about it. It helps to remember that most of us masturbate. Talking to a counselor or therapist can also help you address these feelings.