To fix sex problems in a couple, both parties must be involved

As with other sexual problems, involving your partner in the treatment process helps to heal the relationship, the unmet sexual expectations and the quiet anxiety that comes with sexual dysfunction.

Rodgers, a patient I saw at the Sexology Clinic last week, had severe premature ejaculation – the kind that causes a man to ejaculate before penetrative sex begins. His wife of seven months, Rita, could not bear the experience.

"She says I am worse than a cock," Rodgers lamented, "that at least in its brief moment of adventure, the cock still deposits its seed inside a hen."

Of course, premature ejaculation is fairly common and causes a lot of distress, but things are made worse if your partner is unsupportive. As with other sexual problems, involving your partner in the treatment process helps to heal the relationship, the unmet sexual expectations and the quiet anxiety that comes with sexual dysfunction. So I asked Rodgers to bring his wife to the next appointment when I prescribed medication to treat his premature ejaculation.

"I doubt she can come," said Rodgers. "She says the problem is mine and I should be responsible enough to help myself."

To make his point, Rodgers decided to call his wife right away, update her on our discussion and ask her to come to the next appointment. They spoke for about a minute, then Rodgers handed the phone to me, throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

"I have had enough of Rodgers and his sexual failures," Rita said, "I am stressed and not sure what to do and your call is only adding to the stress. Please treat him, just leave me out of it."

And with that Rita ended the call. There was an awkward moment of silence. Rodgers looked off into the distance, avoiding eye contact with me. I nodded in understanding, realising how distressed he was.

When it comes to treating sexual problems, whether it is erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, lack of sexual desire, pain during sex or any other problem, there are three possible scenarios when it comes to supporting your partner. The first is that the person going to the doctor may want to exclude their partner from the treatment and seek care privately. In fact, a number of men go to sex therapy, swallow pills and take other forms of treatment in secret, without involving their partner. Much of this behaviour is cultural, with people believing they are less of a man or woman if they have problems having sex.

The situation Rodgers faced is also common. It is where the partner with perceived sexual problems asks their partner to be involved in treatment, but they refuse. In such cases, the person with the perceived problem is told to deal with it themselves.

Incidentally, in most of these cases, the one who claims not to have a problem sometimes has even bigger problems. Always remember that the success of any sexual interaction depends on how well both parties play their roles. When dysfunction occurs, both parties have a role to play in either escalating or resolving it.

A third scenario, therefore, is where partners see each other as equally contributing to and affected by a sexual problem. They walk the care journey together and make their contributions to the treatment process.

Whatever the case, having your partner in the room when you are being treated for a sexual health problem can be very fulfilling. In many cases, they may be able to recall facts that you may have forgotten that your provider needs to make decisions about your case. Your partner may also be able to tell you things that you might be embarrassed to talk about, but which can add value to your treatment. And, of course, they become your fact checker. It is natural to be conservative with the truth on some of these difficult issues, but your partner will stretch it a bit to get the full story.

More importantly, there is a lot of anxiety that comes with sex problems. Anxiety affects the way you interact with your partner. Talking to each other helps to break down the communication barriers between you. You will find it easier to relate and communicate about your sexual problems once you have had the consultation. Expectations about sexual performance will also become more realistic.

If you have to undergo prolonged therapy or difficult medical procedures, your partner will become your cheerleader if they are part of the treatment. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for sexual problems and they take weeks, sometimes months or even years, to resolve. Having a supporter who is also your partner adds a lot to your recovery.

“Well said doctor, but then in my case my wife is not ready for this, so what do I do?” Rodgers interjected.

Often, newlyweds find it difficult to help each other get treatment. Similarly, couples who have had problems with infidelity and those who fear that therapy will reveal secrets they do not want to reveal tend to stay away. For partners in long-term relationships, those who have lost attraction for each other tend to stay away because they are afraid that they will be asked to rekindle the relationship. It is always good to diagnose the reason for a partner's refusal to be supportive and deal with it appropriately.