How Does Sex Therapy Help Address Erection Problems?

Erection problems are one of the most common sexual dysfunctions in men and, also, one of those that causes the greatest personal and couple discomfort. It is not uncommon for these types of difficulties to arise sporadically or occasionally.

Nevertheless, when in most sexual interactions it is not possible to obtain or maintain a sufficient erection, we are faced with a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. In these cases, sex therapy is one of the most effective interventions.

Erectile dysfunction (or impotence) can be primary or secondary depending on whether a proper erection has never been achieved or if, having had sexual intercourse without difficulty, problems begin to arise. In addition, it can have both a physiological and psychological origin. In either case, the psychotherapeutic approach can be of great help.

What is sex therapy?

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual problems in men.

Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy focused on identifying and intervening on the different problems that arise in intimate relationships. Thus, it can help both men and women of any age to improve the quality of their sexual and love life.

In general, sex therapy addresses dysfunctions present in any of the phases of sexual response: desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. But also, on many occasions it also involves the couple, emphasizing social and relational aspects. In this way, a more complete solution is offered.

How does it help address erection problems?

Erection problems can have an organic cause. That is, they can be derived from diseases (diabetes, heart conditions or nervous system disorders), taking medications or hormonal alterations.

However, on many occasions it is wrong beliefs and emotions such as fear and anxiety that trigger dysfunction. Thus, sex therapy provides tools to the affected person to reduce the impact of these variables.

Even in those cases where there is a physiological origin, the psychological approach is relevant to learn to deal with difficulties and improve self-esteem and the relationship as a couple. Therefore, an intervention combined with drugs and sex therapy may be the best choice.

Find out more: Sexual dysfunction in diabetes in men and women

Strategies for Addressing Erection Problems with Sex Therapy

Sex therapy can include various strategies to address erection problems. Nevertheless, an evaluation of the particular case is necessary to identify the factors of origin. In this way, a more personalized intervention can be carried out. However, the following techniques are generally used.


Psychoeducation It consists of providing information to both the patient and their partner about sexuality. This is to achieve a better understanding of the human sexual response and of what physiological and emotional factors can influence the dysfunction.

In addition, this strategy is also useful for breaking down myths and false beliefs about sexuality that can lead to guilt and shame and prevent you from enjoying relationships in a healthy way.

Cognitive restructuring

Rigid thought patterns have a great influence on the inability to achieve an erection. Thus, beliefs such as: «I have to get an erection always and quickly», «My value as a man and as a couple depends on my sexual performance», «I have had erection problems before so I will have them. forever".

This type of approach generates enormous anxiety that leads to erectile dysfunction. Therefore, cognitive restructuring focuses on Identify these thoughts and replace them with others that are more flexible and adjusted to reality.

Read on: How is stress and erectile dysfunction related?

Sensory targeting

Caressing and concentrating on the sensations is one of the recommendations of therapy in the case of erectile dysfunction.

Many of the men with erectile dysfunction have what is called performance anxiety. This term designates the psychological pressure experienced during sexual intercourse due to the desire to satisfy the partner.

The excessive focus that is placed on pleasing the other makes the man disconnect from his own emotions and bodily sensations so he does not enjoy the exchange.

Thus, sensory targeting consists of prescribe a series of encounters for the couple in which intercourse is prohibited. During them, they should caress each other in turns and try to connect with their own feelings and those of the partner.

Initially, the genitals will be excluded from this petting session, but later on they will also be included. In any case, By eliminating the possibility of intercourse, the pressure is reduced and both of you can focus on enjoying and feeling.

Effectiveness of sex therapy in erection problems

There are other strategies such as systematic desensitization and work with the couple's bond that make the intervention more complete. Nevertheless, reducing anxiety and modifying beliefs are the mainstays of sex therapy in this case.

Generally, these are short or medium-term interventions that offer good results. After therapy, not only does erectile dysfunction improve, but the patient's self-esteem and the satisfaction of both members of the couple also increase.. For the same reason, cognitive-behavioral techniques are the most commonly used.