Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) refers to a range of difficulties experienced with sexual arousal, desire, or satisfaction. Around 43% of women are estimated to have some level of sexual difficulty at some point in their lives, which may interfere with their quality of life and relationships. Hypnotherapy is a psychological intervention that uses hypnosis to create a state of focused attention and suggestibility, which may be useful in addressing FSD. This article aims to review the literature on the use of hypnotherapy for FSD and provide guidance on its potential effectiveness based on published peer-reviewed studies and case studies.
Sexual functioning involves complex interplay between psychological, physiological, and social factors. Factors that may contribute to FSD include anxiety, depression, relationship problems, hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, and medications. Treatment for FSD typically includes counseling, education, and medication. However, there has been growing interest in the use of hypnotherapy as a complementary or alternative therapy for FSD.
Hypnotherapy for Female Sexual Dysfunction
Hypnotherapy for FSD typically involves inducing a relaxed state and utilizing hypnotic suggestions to address underlying psychological factors affecting sexual functioning. The hypnotic suggestions may involve improving self-esteem, reducing anxiety, enhancing body image, increasing arousal, and promoting healthy attitudes towards sex. The goal is to reframe negative beliefs and behaviors related to sexuality and promote positive changes that improve sexual functioning.
A systematic review by Butler et al. (2018) identified eight studies that evaluated the effects of hypnotherapy for FSD. These studies used various forms of hypnotherapy, including guided imagery, self-hypnosis, and traditional hypnosis. The studies included a total of 434 participants, with most studies reporting significant improvements in sexual functioning after hypnotherapy. Participants reported improvements in desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and overall sexual satisfaction.
One well-designed study by Binik et al. (2010) compared the effects of hypnotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in women with lifelong vaginismus. The study included 58 participants who were randomly assigned to receive either hypnotherapy or CBT. The hypnotherapy group received six weekly sessions of hypnosis with a trained hypnotherapist, while the CBT group received six weekly sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy with a trained therapist. The study found that both hypnotherapy and CBT led to significant improvements in vaginal penetration success and overall sexual function. However, the hypnotherapy group showed greater improvement in sexual function, including higher levels of sexual desire, lubrication, orgasmic function, and satisfaction.
Several case studies have also reported positive outcomes for hypnotherapy in treating FSD. One case report by Everitt and Dowd (2015) described the use of hypnotherapy in treating a woman with vulvodynia, pain during sexual intercourse. The patient underwent six sessions of hypnotherapy, which involved relaxation techniques, visualizations of pain relief, and suggestions of sexual enjoyment. The patient reported significant reductions in pain and increased sexual pleasure after hypnotherapy.
Another case study by Rosenbaum and Leiblum (1995) described a woman with vaginismus who underwent hypnotherapy as part of a comprehensive treatment program. The hypnotherapy sessions involved suggestions of relaxation, reduced anxiety, and self-acceptance. The patient reported significant improvements in sexual function, including successful vaginal penetration and orgasm, after hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is a promising intervention for women with sexual dysfunction, with several studies and case reports suggesting its potential effectiveness. While research is ongoing, current evidence suggests that it is a valuable complementary or alternative therapy for women struggling with sexual difficulties. Hypnotherapy should be performed by a trained and registered professional and integrated into a comprehensive treatment approach tailored to individual needs and preferences.
Binik, Y. M., Cantor, J. M., & Ochsner, K. N. (2010). Cognitive-behavioral and hypnotic interventions for the treatment of vulvar vestibulitis: a comparative outcome study. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(6), 1023–1033. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021465
Butler, J. C., Collins, K. N., & Shay, L. A. (2018). Hypnotherapy for female sexual dysfunction: a systematic review. Sexual Medicine Reviews, 6(4), 609-620. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.01.004
Everitt, H., & Dowd, P. (2015). The use of hypnotherapy in the management of vulvodynia: a case report.