Whats that burning I feel after I have sex? What happened to my libido? How can I get my partner to talk about sex? Youre a grown woman. Youve read Cosmo, right? You should know the answers to these kinds of questions...shouldnt you? Not necessarily. Sometimes, your sex concerns require the expertise of a pro. Read on for where to get answers to some of your most intimate queries.

1. The problem: “Ive lost interest in sex.”

Turn to: A certified sex therapist

She is qualified to handle the widest range of sexual problems, including loss of sex drive, compulsive behavior, sexual anxiety, or sexual trauma. In my private practice, Ive dealt with everything from loss of sex drive to unconsummated marriages. Therapists certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) have advanced degrees (MA, MSW, or PhD), and must hold a state license as a psychologist, clinical social worker, or marriage-and-family counselor. Sex therapy includes both talk therapy and homework that can help with issues like communication, body image, and sexual openness. You can seek therapy individually or as a couple.

What you might find out:

The cause could be depression, side effects from prescriptions, relationship conflicts, body-image concerns, stress, unresolved childhood issues, or any of the above.

Take note: Florida is the only state that licenses sex therapists, so anybody in the other 49 states can hang out a “sex therapist” shingle.
Next Page: 2. The problem: My 13-year-old is asking complicated questions about sex. Im not sure how to respond. [ pagebreak ]2. The problem: My 13-year-old is asking complicated questions about sex. Im not sure how to respond.

Turn to: Sex educators

Theyre good when what you want is straightforward sexual information. Certified sexuality instructors have at least a bachelors degree and several years of professional experience, as well as training in areas like anatomy, gender issues, and sexual harassment.

What you might find out:

They can counsel you on the most effective way to approach your childs questions because theyre trained to communicate clearly and age-appropriately about sex. These educators often work for public agencies such as Planned Parenthood, or in schools or clinics where they answer questions from clients over the phone or in person. They also may refer you to relevant books, Web sites, and other resources. Bear in mind, though, these professionals are not qualified to diagnose medical or psychological conditions.

Take note: HIV-awareness training is often among the many specialties in the sex-educators repertoire.

3. The problem: “These days, my vagina always seems dry—and sex hurts.”

Turn to: Your OB-GYN

She can help with any physical discomfort during sex, and can explain, in everyday language, how your body works. Plus, as an MD, she can prescribe for conditions that require medication.

What you might find out:

These problems could be a result of endometriosis, side effects from drugs, or menopausal changes. Shell examine you, check for sexually transmitted infections, test your hormone levels, and explore physical sources of sexual difficulty.

Take note: If your OB-GYN cant help, she will refer you to another specialist who can.

Linda De Villers, PhD, is a certified sex therapist based in California and author of Love Skills.