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Sexual problems can affect both men and women for brief or more extended periods of time. If physical causes have been ruled out then the problem will likely be attributable to psychological reasons, though it should be said that even if the problem is psychological this will also have physical effects. Psychological problems affecting sex may be attributable to current circumstances – such as stress or anxiety  – or may be because of past experiences, especially trauma. Below you will find a brief overview of some common problems to do with sex.  

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or to maintain an erection. Almost all men will experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. However, when the problem persists then it can cause problems both within ourselves – such as low self-esteem – or in our intimate relationships. If physical causes have been ruled out and lifestyle changes – such as losing weight or stopping smoking – have been made then you may wish to consider psychological therapies – such as hypnosis or CBT  – to overcome erectile dysfunction. 

Problems with Ejaculation 

Premature Ejaculation

This is the most common of all ejaculation problems and is when a male ejaculates very soon after sexually intimate acts or penetration have begun. Of course, there is no 'correct' time to ejaculate and it is down to each couple to decide what they are happy with. As with erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation will happen to most men at some point. However, if the problem is persisting then it may be worth seeking help. One typical benchmark for when it is a good idea to seek help is when premature ejaculation is occurring in more than half of all episodes of sexual intimacy/intercourse.  

The factors contributing to premature ejaculation are various though it is strongly linked to stress levels, emotional distress, the passing on of strict beliefs about sex during upbringing, and previous traumas – especially sexual abuse.  

Premature ejaculation can become a vicious cycle where previous incidents of premature ejaculation raise our stress and anxiety levels and may fuel doubts about our sexual performance, in turn increasing the likelihood of premature ejaculation. To help you get to the root of premature ejaculation and to explore strategies to prevent it, Psychology Sussex have experienced practitioners adopting a compassionate and non-judgemental approach that would be happy to help you . 

Delayed Ejaculation 

Delayed ejaculation is either a significant delay in ejaculation from the time of beginning to be sexually intimate or beginning intercourse, or the inability to ejaculate at all, especially against the desires of the male. As with premature ejaculation the problem can affect most men at some point in their lives. Again, the causes of and treatments for are similar to premature ejaculation.  

Loss of Libido 

The loss of libido – i.e. sex drive – can affect both men and women at some point during their lives. Of course there is no such thing as a normal level of libido – we all vary in how strong our sex drive usually is and within ourselves this can change over time with periods of intense sexual desire or none at all. It is important to rule out physical causes since a loss of libido may be being caused by underlying medical difficulties, especially decreased hormone levels.  
Losing one's libido is often connected to difficulties in relationships or within ourselves – such as stress or anxiety. Moreover, when one or both partners have a decreased sex drive or are not interested in sex at all, this itself can cause or exacerbate problems within the relationship. 


The following are some of the common causes of loss of libido:

  • Stress and exhaustion.
  • Feeling sexually undesirable or not being sexually attracted to one's partner.
  • Problems in relationships such as poor communication, difficulties with trust, unresolved conflicts or arguing.
  • Becoming overfamiliar with your partner, especially in long-term relationships.
  • Previous trauma – especially sexual abuse.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Performance anxiety.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Pain during intercourse, perhaps caused by injury to the penis or vagina.
  • Vaginismus – unwanted and uncontrollable tightening of the vagina.
  • Age related hormone decline (oestrogen and testosterone in women and testosterone in men).

Whether you would like to discuss things on your own or with your partner, we have experienced practitioners who are used to working with individuals and couples where one or both partners is experiencing a loss of libido which is causing distress or problems in the relationship.

Inability to orgasm

Whether your ability to enjoy sexual activity is being inhibited by not feeling able to 'let go', because of problems in your relationship or with your mood, or because of a previous traumatic sexual experience, the practitioners at Psychology Sussex would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss in a compassionate and non-judgemental manner, how it is that we can help you.  
Whether you don't feel able to 'let go', are being effectively stimulated, are experiencing problems in your relationship or with you mood, or have had a previous traumatic sexual experience, the practitioners at Psychology Sussex would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss in a compassionate and non-judemental manner, how it is that we can help you.


Vaginismus is when the vagina seizes up involuntarily just as something – say a tampon, sex toy or penis – is about to be inserted. Very few cases of vaginismus are attributable to physical problems though this can sometimes mistakenly be diagnosed, leading to unnecessary surgery. The reasons contributing to vaginismus will be unique to each individual, their history and the circumstances of their current relationship (if they are in one). Nevertheless, some of the more common reasons are as follows: 

  • Unease or dissatisfaction with one's body, especially one's vagina.
  • A previous traumatic incident such as a traumatic sexual experience or medical examination/procedure.
  • Beliefs that sex is immoral, wrong or shame-worthy.

If vaginismus is causing you and/or your partner difficulties then do not hesitate to make contact to discuss how we can help you.

In order to try and minimise or move beyond any of the above difficulties it is important that you feel able to talk openly with a non-judgemental and compassionate professional to first try to understand the underlying causes of such difficulties. Once this has been established then the experienced practitioners at Psychology Sussex will be able to work with you, and your partner should they wish, in order to try and develop strategies for overcoming the difficulty in question. 
If you would like to discuss a concern related to sex then do not hesitate to Contact the team now to discuss how we can help you. 

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