A scene from the movie The Sessions with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt as a sex surrogate.
A scene from the movie The Sessions with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt as a sex surrogate. Contributed

Getting help and finding the real reason for sex problems

EVEN behind closed doors, open and frank discussion of sexual problems is difficult.

But over dinner with the family, a news presenter is more than likely to expose yet another celebrity suffering from a sex addiction, caught in a web of extra-marital affairs or labelled a cold fish in the bedroom by a former partner.

What hope do mere mortals have in finding help discretely for their sex issues?

Retired Sunshine Coast sexual relationship therapist and Society of the Australian Sexologists former president Diane Summer said that speaking with a doctor was a place to start.

GPs were able to provide clinical assessments to determine whether causes of sexual problems were related to hormonal issues, aging or medication complications.

"They can at least look at these elements of the problem," she said.

The next step might be to visit organisations such as Relationships Australia and Family Planning Australia.

"It's more common for people who have sex problems to have other areas of their lives that are not running well," Dr Summer said.

"Sexual difficulties are normally much more about emotions, the brain and the relationship or lack of relationship.

"These are probably some of the biggest contributors to sexual difficulties.

"A sexual problem is usually the tip of the iceberg and there is often a deeper issue. It may be money, unhappiness in a relationship, grief, anger or alcoholism.

"There are so many other issues that we play out in the bedroom."

Dr Summer said that resources were limited in Australia for people seeking solutions to sexual problems but we all had the right to experience the pleasures of sexual intimacy.

Inspired by a true story, the recent film The Sessions exposes the raw emotion and sexual challenges faced by a man in his 30s who is condemned to an iron lung.

Mark O'Brien, played by John Hawkes, desperately wants to lose his virginity and employs the services of a professional sex surrogate (played by Helen Hunt) in conjunction with a priest and a therapist, to help him achieve his wish.

Dr Summer said the use of a professional sex surrogate would be rare in Australia.

Similarly, she said some disreputable sex clinics preyed on desperate people and only masked the problem by pushing products and aids readily available through a GP or elsewhere.

Better education in sexual matters from an early age may hold the key.

"I have just recently been on a two-day seminar on trying to get more sex education into schools," Dr Summer said.

"But the heads of schools so often avoid the topic because one or two parents don't want the issue to be raised in the school.

"There is certainly a segment of the population who don't want to talk about the problem at all."

 

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