And it’s not just for couples. Berkheimer says the majority of her clients are single women—and these are the three FAQs, in particular, she gets the most from them.
The top 3 questions singles ask a sex therapist
1. Why can’t I orgasm?
According to Berkheimer, the most popular topic of inquiry by far is anything and everything to do with orgasm. “Primarily the question is why can’t I orgasm with another person,” she says.
There are a lot of factors that could be at play here, but Berkheimer says she typically starts by asking if the person orgasms while masturbating. If the answer is yes, she works backwards with the patient to figure out what is missing when they engage in sex with others.
Reaching orgasm can be difficult for a variety of reasons, and Berkheimer says there are also people who have never orgasmed or who don’t like solo sex. Because they’re not sure what they enjoy, they’re not able to communicate their desires to partners. And while there are many reasons for this too, Berkheimer says one common factor is usually at play. “It’s usually a narrative around shame, so there’s some difficulty in exploring what is possible,” she says.
“Primarily the question is why can’t I orgasm with another person.”—Joy Berkheimer, LMFT and sex therapist
2. Why do I want to have sex so much and/or so often?
Another FAQ has to do with someone’s desire related to the amount and frequency of sex they have. Berkheimer says in general people are curious about how their own sexual appetites compare to others, and that a lot of questions revolve around whether they’re horny the right amount or too much (of course, there is no right or correct amount).
Similar to this, people ask if they have a sex addiction because they want to have sex so much or so often. Berkheimer says she hesitates to ever label someone’s desire for sex as an addiction unless it meets very specific criteria; she explains that different sexologists and therapists use varying frameworks to identify sex addiction.
“If it’s blocking you from doing normal things in your life, then it’s a problem,” she says. “An addiction is a dysfunction, and that could look like you don’t go to work because you’re having sex or you don’t have any friends, or you’ve disconnected from your relationships because of whatever kind of sex you want to have.”
She said this question often stems from an opinion someone else expressed about the person’s desire for sex being too much. This is harmful because everyone operates on a different level of sexual desire, and ranking and judging can pathologize pleasure. “It’s not an addiction just because [someone else] has an opinion about your level of desire,” she adds.
3. Why can’t I get wet and/or wet enough during sex?
The third most-common question that Berkheimer receives from her single clients has to do with lubrication during sex. As double-board-certified gynecologist Monica Grover, DO, medical director at VSPOT medi spa, previously told Well+Good, part of arousal for people with vulvas involves the muscles in the pelvic floor relaxing and the vaginal canal getting wetter to prepare for possible penetration. She also mentions that it takes longer for people with vulvas to become aroused.
But perceived lack of or less lubrication can be stressful and make it seem like you don’t desire your partner. And while that very well may be at play, according to Berkheimer there are many reasons for vaginal dryness that include: fear, stress, dehydration, hormones, medical reasons, and medications someone may be taking. It could also have to do with someone’s mind being somewhere else during sex, she says.
Whatever the reason is, if there is something happening in your brain, it can affect your sex organs. “The body, genitals, and brain are very much connected,” Berkheimer says. “If a part of my brain is saying ‘this is going to hurt or this is not safe,’ I’m not going to do the things in my body to make it so.”
It can be intimidating to seek answers about something as intimate as your sex life, but if these questions singles ask a sex therapist most often are any indicator, you’re not alone in wanting advice. And if you’ve got more queries than the ones above, finding a sex therapist may be a great way to dive deeper into your personal queries.