Sexuality and mental health are two important aspects of life. But did you know they can affect each other?
That’s right. Mental health conditions can affect someone’s sexuality and ability to enjoy sex. While sex is a very physical act, it’s also highly influenced by our mental states — leaving anyone suffering from poor mental health at a sexual disadvantage.
- How does mental health impact sexuality?
- Common sexual challenges caused by mental health conditions
- Frequent misconceptions about sexuality and mental health
- Communicating with clients: Talking about desires and preferences
- The takeaway
This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re looking at how sexuality and mental health intersect, the effects of mental health conditions, and how you can support a client with mental health conditions. Enjoying a fulfilling sex life while experiencing mental health issues is possible, especially when educated on the topic.
Scroll down to start learning now.
How does mental health impact sexuality?
Mental health, like most aspects of health, affects sexuality.
Your mind is a large part of the sexual experience, so if you’re experiencing a mental health condition, it may impact sexual intercourse and arousal. Not all those with mental health conditions experience sexual dysfunction, but it’s a common and normal issue we must discuss more.
For example, some mental health conditions can decrease sexual desire and libido. In contrast, others may reduce body confidence and the ability to enjoy sex. Some people may find it hard to become physically aroused, alongside not being mentally “in the mood”.
What is sexuality?
Sexuality is your emotional, sexual, and physical feelings towards someone else. This includes attractions to a different gender, the same gender, or no attraction at all. There’s no wrong or right way to experience sexuality – it’s all about your personal experience.
Common sexual challenges caused by mental health conditions
Sexuality is different for everyone. However, there are some common sexual challenges clients with mental health conditions could face.
See the most common issues below to improve your awareness and learn more about the effects of mental health on sexuality:
- Decreased sexual desire and libido
- Pain during intercourse
- Difficulty becoming aroused and maintaining arousal
- Issues with vaginal lubrication or erectile dysfunction
- Inhibited or delayed orgasm
- Reduced emotional and intimate connections
- Sexual avoidance
- Low self-esteem and body confidence issues
- Relationship problems
While the mental health condition can cause physical challenges, they can also be a side effect of medications.
How escorts can create a safe and supportive environment for clients with mental health issues
Clients with mental health issues deserve fulfilling sexual experiences, but sex workers might need to make a few minor adjustments to ensure their comfort.
Firstly, it’s helpful to establish trust and comfort with clients. This atmosphere can be created through empathy and non-judgemental conversations. Forget the stigma of mental health conditions. Actively listen to your client’s experiences to know more about their worries.
Work with clients and identify their main struggles. You can further specialise your sessions to their specific needs. For example, some clients may want to begin with intimate touches. Don’t rush them into anything and move at their pace.
Many escorts also promote self-care to clients, as encouraging these practices can help improve their well-being and sexual fulfilment.
Finally, checking in and receiving feedback from the client regularly is crucial. Ask them if any adjustments are needed to ensure their sexual needs are met. This way, you can adapt your routine for a satisfying session.
Frequent misconceptions about sexuality and mental health
Due to a lack of education and stigma, there are common misconceptions about mental health and sexuality.
This often includes the idea that mental health conditions always lead to sexual issues – this isn’t true. Many also believe that mental health medications decrease libido, which isn’t strictly true.
Other misconceptions include:
- People with mental health conditions aren’t capable of consent
- Mental health conditions don’t allow people to have functioning relationships
- Sexual issues are all caused by mental health (this negates relationship or trauma issues)
Strategies for escorts to address misconceptions
Thankfully, there are some tried and tested strategies to help escorts address these misconceptions with ease.
For example, learning more about how sexuality and mental health interact and raising awareness of the issues affected people face. Escorts may also want to advocate for clients. This could include challenging stereotypes on social media or working with organisations to create better resources for mental health issues.
Communicating with clients: Talking about desires and preferences
Talking about desires and needs is an excellent place for escorts to start. This shows clients they’re in a non-judgemental setting, which can help them talk about preferences and be vulnerable.
Escorts should remember to respect the client’s boundaries while talking about desires. Don’t force the client to share their needs if they aren’t ready. Allow them to come to you when they’re comfortable.
It’s also helpful to provide clients with options. Give them possibilities and sexual choices and see which resonates with them. This is an excellent method if your client is shy and hesitant to open up. Open-ended questions are also constructive, allowing clients to express their desires in their own words.
How to help clients enjoy the sexual experience while managing mental health conditions
Enjoyment is at the heart of any sexual interaction. So, helping clients with mental health conditions have fun is always the goal.
Top tips to ensure clients are having a sexually fulfilling time include:
- Maintaining open and honest communication
- Educating yourself about their mental health challenges
- Taking an individualised approach to their sessions
- Including self-care and mindfulness in the sessions
- Continually checking in and respecting boundaries
Adapting your approach for clients with mental health conditions
Part of communicating with clients is learning about their individual mental health challenges and how this affects their sexuality. You can then use these answers to create an adapted approach for their sessions.
Of course, clients might not reveal all in the first session. Ensure you’re patient and work with them. It may take a few sessions, but going slow is a great way to make sure they feel as comfortable as possible.
Adapted approaches could look like:
- Having extra lubricant for those with vaginal dryness
- Not focusing on penetrative intercourse
- Asking frequent questions
Ethical considerations for escorts
When working with clients who experience mental health conditions, you must always receive informed consent (from both parties) before starting a session. If there’s no consent, it’s a no-go!
Escorts should also consider the client’s agency and autonomy, their boundaries, and how to promote well-being throughout a session. The best way to navigate these issues is through thorough discussions before starting. No rushing here.
There can be unique power dynamics in these client relationships, so educate yourself on any potential vulnerabilities when working with clients with mental health issues. Find an in-depth and scientific guide to mental health and sex here.
When working with clients with mental health conditions, putting their well-being first and obtaining informed consent is paramount. Escorts must approach the situation flexibly, and adaptations should be made where necessary. It’s also important to remember, alongside respecting clients’ boundaries, they should respect yours, too.
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