Applied Psychology

What is Sexology?

Jun 08, 2023 | By Saranne Durham
Happy intimate couple

Sexology is a fascinating part of Psychology that focuses on the scientific study of human sexuality. It includes physiology, anatomy and the psychology behind sexual activity, relationships and reproduction. Sexologists study how the mind and body work in relation to sexuality. 

When did Sexology Start?

Sexology is an interdisciplinary science that first started to be recognised in the early 20th century. However, there is historical evidence showing that studying sexuality began long before this. Ancient Greek philosophers and physicians, such as Hippocrates, Galen, Aristotle and Plato, all wrote about it. And some of Antiquity’s writings like the Kama-sutra (400 BCE – 200 AD) and Ars Amatorial (1 BCE) are still being published. 

Why is Sex Important?

Sex can have an impact on our mental, physical and psychosocial health. And vice versa. How we see ourselves sexually can direct our intimate relationships. For some, their sexuality is closely tied to their happiness and well-being. Thereby making it an important determinant of the viability of romantic relationships and connections with others. Our sexuality can also determine how we feel about ourselves and therefore our self-esteem. And our self-esteem can impact our sexuality. 

Sex is not just about procreating; it’s also a way of expressing our feelings towards someone else and having fun.  For many, sex creates deeper intimacy in a relationship and fosters feelings of closeness with another person. Sex can also have health benefits. It is thought that a healthy sex life can help lower blood pressure, boost immunity, improve heart health and be a natural pain reliever. It has also been shown to decrease anxiety and stress levels, improve self-esteem and help you to sleep better. 

Why can Sex be Complicated?

Sex can be complicated because it’s not just a physical act. It can involve our minds, bodies, and souls. Sex can be used to make up, break up or build up a relationship. It can take place in person,  over a phone or through a variety of virtual mediums. Sex isn’t just about genitalia – it can involve images, words, or sounds. It can start with the way someone says hello, a chance touch, or an intended caress. Sex can be in our mind, between two people or polyamorous. For humans, sex is not just a biological process. It’s multifaceted and biocultural, with potential long-term consequences.  

Essentially, sex can be wonderful. But because it’s so personal, it can also be a labyrinth of complexity that requires sensitivity and caution. What it means to one person may not be what it means to another.  

Psychology to Sexology

Sexuality can be expressed and experienced through desires and fantasies, beliefs, attitudes, and values or through roles and behaviours. Through sexuality procreation, recreation and relationships take place. It can be the source of intense personal relationships and self-actualisation. But it can also lead to deep emotional and painful scars. Accordingly, Dr Lemmer, a Clinical and Forensic Sexologist and Relationship Specialist, states that “Sexuality encompasses our whole human being.” Which is why unpacking our sexuality sometimes requires the expertise of a sexologist to help us. 

What does a Sexologist do?

Libido or sex drive can be impacted by stress, hormones, and mental and physical health. Our values can influence our attitude towards sex. This means that family, friends, our cultural or religious background and community all play a part in our sexuality

A Sexologist is an expert in human sexuality. They are knowledgeable in both the physical and mental dynamics of sexuality. This means that they can assist with the mental and emotional aspects of life and relationship issues relating to sex. They work with individuals as well as couples.  

While Sexologists understand medical and physical conditions that impact sex, they do not treat them. Instead, they primarily use talk therapy to assist their clients. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and emotional-based therapy. They might also employ practices such as mindfulness and assist couples to improve their communication skills

Sexologists work in numerous settings. As therapists, they are employed in private practices, at hospitals and in clinics. Many sexologists also work as researchers; studying and investigating all different aspects of human sexuality.   

Who Should Study Sexology?

A good sexologist is someone who can communicate well and is empathetic. They should be willing to understand medical issues and be willing to work alongside other healthcare professionals. Sexologists are also apt at research and can teach others.  

The demand for sexologists is continually growing. This makes it an excellent career avenue for those who wish to niche themselves.   

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