Sex Surrogacy: The “Hands-On” Approach to Sex Therapy

“The best therapy for a man suffering impotence…may be a therapist-supplied ‘other woman’ who embodies patience. Actual patience with a willing woman is crucial.” – Quote from the November 1, 1969 San Francisco Chronicle

Some within the sexual health community have argued that the best way to resolve a sexual difficulty is to “practice” with a substitute partner who is very knowledgeable and experienced. Although this idea has garnered a lot of recent attention with the release of the provocative film The Sessions starring Helen Hunt, sex surrogacy first catapulted into the public spotlight in the 1970s when Masters and Johnson publicly advocated for at least some usage of so-called “surrogate” partners in the practice of sex therapy. As part of their pioneering research, Masters and Johnson actually recruited female volunteers to serve as sex surrogates for single men who were experiencing sexual difficulties and achieved a very high rate of success in treating erectile dysfunction. However, this approach was greeted with a great deal of skepticism and concern by both the broader community of sex therapists and the general public alike. So what is the status of sex surrogate therapy today?

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