Yes

Counselling with a sex therapist or counsellor is often helpful when there is a psychological basis for a sexual problem. The sessions usually last about 1 hour and a course of treatment may last for several weeks or months. Both partners need to attend the therapy sessions so that the therapist can help them to understand their sexual needs and communicate them honestly. A therapist may also suggest exercises to do at home. One such exercise is a technique called sensate focus. In this exercise, a couple touch and stimulate each other's bodies but agree not to have full sexual intercourse for several weeks. Sensate focus can be helpful for problems that stem from anxiety about sexual performance.

Talking therapy

A sex therapist may be able to help you and your partner develop better communication and work through sexual problems in a safe, supportive environment.

Are you concerned that sexual intercourse may cause your condition to recur or worsen?

Do you often drink more than the recommended safe alcohol limit (p.30)?

Possible causes and action These symptoms may be caused by low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone as a result of a disorder that affects the testes or an organ such as the liver, which processes hormones. Consult your doctor, who may arrange for blood tests to check your hormone levels and to detect any underlying cause. Treatment may be of the underlying cause or may include hormone treatment.

Are you generally anxious, and/or do you have specific anxieties about sex?

Possible cause and action People who have been ill or had major surgery are often concerned that sex will make their condition worse (see Sex after illness, opposite). These concerns may lower sex drive. In most cases, after a recovery period of about 6 weeks, sex rarely causes problems; however, you should consult your doctor for advice and reassurance.

Possible cause and action Serious illness or surgery can sometimes alter your perception of your body and of yourself in general (see Sex after illness, opposite), resulting in a reduced sex drive. Consult your doctor, who may advise counselling (see Useful addresses, p.311).

Possible cause and action Alcohol can reduce your sex drive and can cause erection difficulties as well as more serious health problems. Try to drink less alcohol. You should also consult your doctor so that any other causes can be excluded.

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