Solving Sexual Dysfunctions with Hypnosis

Sexuality is an important part of overall physical and emotional well-being, for this reason the World Health Organization elaborated a definition of sexual health that could include all the elements of this complex construct.
Sexual health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being – thus not merely the absence of illness or disability – that is maintained in all activities regarding the reproductive system, its functions and processes.
Sexual dysfunctions include all those conditions that interfere with this state and can be classified as: sexual desire dysfunctions (that can be inhibited or excessively present), sexual arousal dysfunctions (a category that includes conditions such as erectile dysfunctions in men or insufficient lubrication in women), orgasm dysfunctions (such as premature ejaculation or anorgasmia) and all those dysfunctions that cause pain during intercourse.
Hypnosis, as reported in a study conducted by the university of Rochester, New York, can help those who suffer from these dysfunctions both by contributing to a deeper understanding of their causes and by providing an effective therapeutic intervention. It allows, in fact, to address issues concerning the complex multifactorial system at the base of the dysfunction that often includes relational and physiological factors along with false beliefs and past experiences1. In the same article, the case of a 24 years old woman is presented. The patient couldn’t engage in sexual intercourses even if she had a normal level of sexual desire because of a condition called vaginismus, which is a dysfunction in which an intense involuntary muscular reflex of the vagina makes penetration painful or even impossible. The author reports that, with the application of hypnotic techniques and a self-hypnosis training, in a couple of weeks the patient became able to engage in satisfying sexual intercourses.
Is this kind of result confirmed by researches on wide samples of patients?
The answer is provided by a study2 conducted on 71 women treated for vaginismus with procedures that were similar to those described in the above-mentioned case, that is with the use of etero-induced hypnosis and by teaching patients self-hypnosis techniques. At the end of the study, results show that the wide majority of patients obtained complete remission of the dysfunction (69 over 71). Researchers also monitored the patients during a follow up period that could last for 2 up to 5 years and they observed that the results were maintained without relapses in 65 of them.
Sexual intercourses can be impeded also by conditions that affect men such as erectile dysfunctions. In these cases, during sexual intercourses, erection is usually absent or insufficient to allow penetration. This dysfunction received a lot of attention from scientific literature and, if on the one hand many progresses have been made to treat cases originated by organic causes, the research about those with psychological etiology (which represent the wide majority of cases) provides limited specific interventions. A research3 conducted on 79 men with erectile dysfunction demonstrated that hypnosis can provide a solution.
The above mentioned sample was divided into 4 groups: the first received testosterone doses, the second one received trazodone doses (an antidepressant that in previous research showed beneficial effects on patients with erectile dysfunctions), the third group was treated with 3 sessions a week of hypnosis while the fourth group received a placebo.
Results clearly demonstrate that while the administration of the two substances didn’t have any significant effect on symptomatology compared to the placebo group, hypnosis lead to complete recovery in 80% of the participants. In other words, such results show that hypnosis is a promising method to solve erectile problems with psychological etiology.
Crasilneck4, in an article describing intervention strategies in erectile dysfunction cases, considering more than 2800 patients, reports recovery percentages similar to those of the previous studies after 5 hypnotic sessions. For 10% of these patients an additional session was required. This article, while providing therapeutic strategies to solve premature ejaculation, underlines that in the treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunctions hypnosis is very effective because it allows, in a much shorter time compared to other approaches, to rapidly identify the causes of the dysfunction and to effectively treat it.
 [1] Baram, D.A. (1995). Hypnosis in reproductive health care: A review and case report. Birth, 22(1), 37-42.
[2] Fuchs, K (1980). Therapy of vaginismus by hypnotic desensitization. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 137(1), 1-7.
[3] Aydin S., Odabas Ö., Ercan M., Kara H., Ağargün (1996). Efficacy of testosterone, trazodone and hypnotic suggestion in the treatment of non-organic male sexual dysfunction. British journal of urology, 77, 256-260.
[4] Crasilneck, H.B. (1990). Hypnotic techniques for smoking control and psychogenic impotence. American journal of clinical hypnosis, 32(3), 147-153.