Women from all different walks, ages and stages of life, may develop sexual problems, worries or concerns – this is where sex therapy and intimacy counselling can help.
Common difficulties range from painful intercourse following the birth of a child, to loss of interest in sex and intimacy after a baby, or in response to life events and low or mismatched libido between partners.
As the child-bearers of our species, a woman’s sexuality is tied in with procreation, relationship, bonding with children, our sense of self as well as personal wellbeing and pleasure. Sex has a variety of meanings at different times of our lives and different stages of our relationship.
Your sexuality is such an important part of who you are and has a profound effect on your overall happiness, health and wellbeing. It plays an important part in being at ease with the intimacy in a relationship, which is integral to closeness and bonding. Relationship issues and sexual issues are closely intertwined in that sexual problems cause relationship issues and relationship issues can cause sexual issues.
Men and women communicate in different ways and are impacted by very different hormones and life events. It is thought that men experience emotional intimacy through sexual connection, while women are more likely to want sex, if they first achieve emotional intimacy.
What to Expect in Sex Therapy
I have many years of experience in family health and counselling, and have attended further training in the area of sex therapy. My role is to listen to your concerns and worries, and to help you with sensitivity, care and professionalism. You can speak with me individually or with your partner in a confidential environment.
Some of the common topics discussed during intimacy counselling and sex therapy include:
- Normal anatomy and physiology of male / female genitals;
- Hormones that affect arousal (increase and decrease);
- How male / female arousal is different;
- Libido types and mismatched libido;
- Statistics on orgasm and erection time;
- The age old question: should he last longer or could she come faster?
- What does a fulfilling sex life mean to you?
- And what prevents you from having that?
- Do you have sexual inhibitions or low libido?
- How is sexuality identified and formed?
- And how does your sexuality affect your attitudes, beliefs & actions in your life or relationship?
- Do you want to increase sexual intimacy or communication about sex?
Having a new baby can be the most amazing journey – and the most terrifying. Activities that previously drew you closer as a couple, and rituals you enjoyed for self care, are replaced with a frantic routine, lack of sleep, and loss of regular contact with the outer adult world.
A new little person in the mix can magnify problems in the relationship, making you wonder what you ever saw in each other as you become tired and critical.
On top of everything else your libidos don’t match and even if you do “feel like it”, you don’t have the energy and there are often “more reasons not to” be intimate.
This is a very common scenario!
As a midwife with counseling training and additional qualifications in sex therapy I am able to listen to your concerns around being a new parent, help give perspective and practical tips for managing time, communicating with each other, supportive partnering, being open to finding reasons to say yes to intimacy, and exploring ways of coping that you have previously found useful.
I have found that useful strategies include:
- getting the facts – statistically what is the norm or average (not Hollywood or porn!);
- communication styles / love languages;
- anticipating spontaneity;
- understanding the differences in males and females;
- exploring the “good enough” model for sexual intimacy;
- engaging positive coping and partnering skills.
Author: Julie Fickel, RN, PG Cert Health Science, PG Diploma Midwifery.
Julie Fickel is a midwife with a passion for supporting women and their partners, and has over 20 years’ experience in family health.
She has extensive experience in counselling couples in pregnancy, parenting and partnering, and has attended further training in the area of sex therapy.