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Handbook On Female Sexual Health And Wellness

When And How To Refer

Most front-line heath care professionals are comfortable managing sexual issues—up to a point. Most practices can do the following:

  • Give the patient permission to discuss the problem
  • Validate her concern as legitimate
  • Provide limited information and suggestions
  • Determine if a follow-up visit is required

When a sexual concern exceeds your level of comfort or expertise or warrants intensive therapy, you will want to refer a patient to a qualified specialist, such as a sex therapist (see box). Comprehensive and optimal sexual care often may require both a physical and mental health approach and a multidisciplinary team is often crucial. It can help to:

  • Become familiar with certified sex therapists and sexuality counselors in your area
  • Refer the patient with the assurance that you are adding a team member to address her problem and emphasize that you will continue ongoing involvement in her care

Sex Therapy Resources

  • American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists (
  • International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (
  • Society for Sex Therapy and Research (