When Sexual Health Advice Makes Your Symptoms Worse

Believe it or not, but a lot of the sexual health advice out there can actually make your symptoms worse!

We are surrounded by a lot of BS about sex and relationships. Whether it’s movies, magazines, or even pornography, there is a lot of nonsense that influences our perceptions about what is good and healthy. Unfortunately, these things also influence how we think about interventions and solutions for sexual problems. I wish I could just say that it’s only the media who pushes BS solutions to sexual problems. Sadly, behind many of the magazine articles that push nonsense about sex, there are often so-called “sexperts” validating that terrible information. These articles are often already pre-written by mainstream magazines and newspapers. The authors then shop around for sexperts who will validate the prewritten stories that they’ve already created. Not all articles on sex are bad. However, the system surrounding how things are written about sex allows for a lot of BS to spread and experts about sex play a role in this. 

As a psychotherapist and sex therapist, I have a little secret I’m going to share with you. If you hear an expert make your difficult problem sound really easy to fix, they’re likely more interested in their air time than they are in helping you solve your problem. I know that sounds harsh. But I have seen this type of advice confuse people, harm relationships, and shame people who are struggling. It’s just not right.

Sexperts are sometimes sex therapists, but they’re also often coaches. Sex coaches can range from professionals who have doctorates to average people who think they know a lot about sex because they have a large social media following. You also have celebrity sexperts who sort of just called themselves experts on sex because they have a podcast, radio show, etc. And again, some of those people have zero education in sexual health or therapy. 

There are also non-accredited diploma factories out there as well who offer unaccredited information about sex. Many of these programs further utilize outdated and oversimplified information as anecdotes to “fixing” sexual problems. One common example I have seen is sex experts feeding into myths about sexuality and sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction

However, I wish I could just say that it’s those who lack specific education who may feed into myths, but it’s just not the case. Although certifications for sex therapy offer good education on physiology, anatomy and sexual health, many of these programs struggle to offer education that reflects the true complex nature of sex and relationships. Thus, many of the professionals who receive this education rely on old information, anectdotes and assumptions about sex, but just under a new certified credential.

In other words, like all fields, you have professionals who really are interested in helping, have a great knowledge base, and who are willing to walk with you on the journey ahead. Others just feed right into that list of myths we’ve already discussed. Some professionals claim to have the key to unlocking your problems as if human sexuality is a computer program and you just need to know the right codes to enter. There isn’t really a better way to sell a product than to tell you “I have the secret code.” Ask the exercise industry if this has been used to successfully sell products before. Yet, even computer coding is complicated.

I don’t write this just to be critical. Instead, this crummy information is normalized all around us. When it’s not pointed out, questioned, and challenged, you’re not going to be oriented to it. If you’re reading this, this stuff has likely already impacted you, and my goal here is that we help you adjust your mirror so you can see more of what is in your blind spots.

Here is why it’s so harmful when you’re unaware of the BS. It pushes you to fit yourself into inauthentic scripts by trying out behaviors and interventions that are never going to work for you. The multiple failures that you’ve now been set up to experience are likely to make you feel increasingly ashamed of yourself. This is likely to increase negative beliefs that you develop about yourself.

My best recommendation for you is to approach all information about sex with some healthy skepticism. Ask yourself if there are other people who disagree with the information being given. No one can capture everything in a book or an article, so what might be missing? Where can you go to look for more information?

Most information can be used as a potential tool that you can add to your plan. It’s fine to learn new strategies, but just remember that they’re not all going to work for you. What you learn about sex may not directly help you with your sexual problem. At the same time, it may indirectly help to communicate differently, learn some relaxation techniques, or learn new thinking skills.

The information you find may directly help you with sex as well. Just don’t expect that it will completely fix your problem. That’s not how it usually works. However, there are a ton of great ideas, strategies and techniques out there that you can add to your tool belt. You can learn strategies that may help you make sex more pleasurable and fun. You may learn a relaxation technique that might help you maintain your erection. Or you might do some exercises that can help stop sexual pain. All of these things can help you along your journey. However, most people need to put in more work to reach their goals.


If you’re in Texas and looking for a sex therapist to help you with your sexual problems, feel free to contact us

 

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