Sexology: what is this science and what does a sexologist do?

Sexology is the area of ​​knowledge that studies human sexuality through a range of aspects – physiological, psychological, emotional, cultural and social.
Sex is present in the lives of practically all human beings. For some people, this subject is a taboo and is hardly discussed even when they are in a relationship. Most are still taught to maintain secrecy about this aspect of their lives.
The lack of dialogue about sex, however, can lead to ignorance of the particularities of one’s own sexuality and cause both personal and marital conflicts. It is for this same reason that many couples are prejudiced against the sexologist. Their misinterpretations of this professional keep them away from opportunities to have a healthy sex life.

What is sexology?

Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality. It includes not only sex itself, but issues related to sexual interests, behaviors, beliefs, affective relationships and insecurities. When applied to psychology, sexology helps the psychologist to navigate the knowledge of human sexuality and help patients with problems regarding their sexual needs, desires and functions.

What is a sexologist?

A sexologist is a psychology professional specializing in sexology. He studies and works with areas related to the sexual development of human beings, such as relationships, sexual orientation, desires, compulsions, sexual dysfunctions, personal beliefs about sex and the sexual act itself.

The sexologist helps couples talk about sex. Many spouses are embarrassed to bring up the subject, whether they are young couples in a relationship that has barely started or married couples with years of relationship.
Men and women also don’t talk to friends about sexual appetite, how to climax, or problems in the bedroom. They keep their doubts and impasses to themselves and hope that they will disappear naturally. The point is that this silence can end up damaging the relationship, sex life and personal satisfaction with sex over time.

That’s where the sexologist comes in. In psychotherapy, nothing is off limits and nothing is taboo. Everything can be expressed, from fantasies and fetishes to insecurities. After all, if sex is something that common, there shouldn’t be so much shame and hesitation to talk about it, right?
Sexologists are aware of the nervousness and anxiety of patients who come to them.

Talking about one’s sexuality is not easy, especially when one is not used to it. How to share such intimate things with a stranger?
It is precisely because of this understanding that sexologists are able to welcome and reassure patients, giving them time and space to get used to talking about sex in therapy. In the process, they may discover things they weren’t even aware of about their own sexuality.

How to be a sexologist?

Psychologists interested in sexology can do a specialization in this area to act as sexologists. Postgraduate courses in sex education and sex therapy also enable professionals to work with human sexuality. Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pedagogues and social workers are also qualified to attend some of these courses.
The sexologist can perform individual or couple consultations in clinical psychotherapy, attend clinics and hospitals to treat sexual dysfunctions and work as a forensic sexologist, treating sexual disorders and paraphilias.

What is a consultation with a sexologist like?

In all therapeutic processes, the goal of the psychologist – in this case, the sexologist – is to find out what the patient’s problem is. Therefore, between outbursts and frank conversations, the sexologist tries to understand the patients’ complaints, annoyances and desires for improvement.
The first consultation consists of an initial interview, where the professional asks questions about the patient’s sexual history. Childhood, adolescence, parents’ marriage, previous relationships and beliefs are explored throughout the process to understand how each element influences the patient’s attitude towards sex.
After learning about the patient’s relationship with sex, the sexologist tries to understand what the problem is in the relationship with the partner. The patient may believe that the frequency of sexual activities is not enough or the emotional connection is scarce, for example.

From then on, the professional assigns “homework” to be completed with the aim of improving the patient’s sex life and relationship with their sexuality.
In online therapy, the meeting with the sexologist takes place via video call and online forms. He can also share texts and website links with the aim of helping patients to reflect on their problems.
Treatment can be individual or as a couple. It is interesting that the spouses do the consultation together so that they can discuss matters that they are usually ashamed to talk about with each other. The mediation and comfort of a professional make the experience less embarrassing.

The length of follow-up depends on the nature of the problems presented to the sexologist. There are issues that are simpler to resolve while others involve trauma and abuse histories, needing more time to be explored.

When to look for a sexologist?

The sexologist helps individuals and couples of all ages to find the root of their sexual problems, but what would these problems be? There are many problems that people can have in relation to their sexuality and sex, according to sexology.
Depending on the type of complaint, an individual may refuse to see a professional for fear of exposing their privacy. However, sexuality is an important component of a balanced life. Issues involving it should not be ignored or repressed. A posture that is too rigid can cause problems with self-esteem, relationships and identity.
We separate some of the problems that lead people to the sexologist. Check them out below!

1. Sexual orientation issues

The concern with sexuality is independent of sexual orientation. They can affect heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual individuals, among others. However, impasses such as sexual dysfunction can be experienced differently due to sexual orientation.
Also, some people repress their own sexuality for years out of fear and social pressures. They are taught that sexual orientations other than heterosexuality are wrong, so they try to pretend to be something they are not in order to fit into a norm.
Psychotherapy can help both in understanding one’s own sexuality and in identity issues that are harmful to mental and sexual health.

2. Sexual problems in the relationship

Couples are often unable to resolve intimate issues on their own. Hurt, anger, resentment and disappointment instigate constant fights and discussions about sex life. A spouse can accuse the other of not having interest in the relationship, of considering only their desires and needs, of not caring about emotional issues, among others.
Married couples may complain about the lack of sex and romance, as well as the self-indulgence that has made their sex life less interesting. Young couples, on the other hand, may fear talking aloud about their insecurities about sex and what they are comfortable doing. Thus, they can benefit from sexologist counseling or marriage counseling to solve these problems.
Not knowing how to spice up your sex life, lack of news, incompatibility between the couple, lack of dialogue about desires and wishes, difficulty being completely comfortable with your partner in bed and low self-esteem are other concerns that affect the relationship.

3. Trauma, stories of childhood abandonment or abuse

Not everyone who has been molested needs years of therapy to have a happy, healthy sex life, but sometimes long-term counseling is necessary. The type of violence, the identity of the aggressor and how long the abuse lasted are issues that interfere with the intensity of the trauma, consequently determining the duration of treatment. Thus, some people may require years of therapy to become comfortable with sex and their sexuality.

4. Sexual dysfunctions

Sexual dysfunctions can also be explored with the sexologist. Women may suffer from conditions that make it difficult to obtain pleasure or cause pain during intercourse, such as vaginismus, anorgasmia and dyspareunia. Men, on the other hand, tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and sexual impotence, both issues that can be discussed in therapy.

The lack of sexual desire for men and women is also of interest to the sexologist.
Even if talking about this subject causes discomfort, it is important to go to a professional to find the cause of the lack of libido.

5. Beliefs that affect sex life

People receive all sorts of information about sex which helps to form beliefs about sexuality and sexual relationships. Some are disgusted with practicing certain sexual activities or genital organs, feel apprehensive about taking off their clothes in front of a partner even though they like him, believe that sex is dirty, or don’t like themselves enough to venture into sex even though they have curiosity.
Usually these beliefs are formed from ignorance and unpleasant experiences. When they interfere with sex life, they can be properly investigated and treated in psychotherapy.
Vittude is an online therapy platform where patients can find sexologists to help them resolve sexual issues. In addition, we provide an e-book on human sexuality based on sexology to clarify common doubts and break taboos that make people unhappy.
How about starting your psychological follow-up? Schedule a session at Vittude later this week!