Interview with Sex Therapist Dr. Rose Hartzell (Part 3)

interview with sex therapist Dr. Rose Hartzell - when sex hurts there is hope

Finally, the rest of the amazing feedback from Dr. Rose Hartzell, PhD, EdS, CHES, LMFT, Sex Therapist at San Diego Sexual Medicine. Here is part 3 of my interview with this remarkable woman.




10. The message of my blog is that when sex hurts there is hope. Do you think that is true, and if so, in what way?

Oh my gosh, yes, because I‘ve seen so many people who had pain and then did not have pain.  Or who have pain but ended up living the life they want, whatever that might be.  Having pain doesn’t have to mean the end of the world or even that you’ll never have a good sexual relationship.  I just had a couple the other day that the woman said “I can’t imagine ever having a normal healthy sex life,” but you can, I’ve seen it.

11.  Many sufferers of sexual pain go years without finding help for their suffering. As a community of patients and practitioners, how do you think we can reach those suffering from painful sex to find hope and help sooner?

I agree with everything you just said and sometimes I see people who for 20 years they’ve had pain and never saw hope.  It’s unfortunate and Dr. Goldstein and I do these monthly Fox 5 interviews and I always bring up the idea of doing pain as the topic, but it’s just not something people want to talk about because it’s depressing in some ways for a lot of people.  But I think that the way we can get the word out and help more people is kind of like what you are doing with this blog.  It goes back to the whole reason why I became a therapist because sometimes the things that are the most difficult to talk about are the most important to talk about.  But you allowing yourself to be open and sharing your experience, who knows how many people that you know at some point in their life might experience this and then they have a resource and they know that you can talk to them.  The more people that talk about it, the less stigmatized it becomes.  Like people can talk about cervical cancer and ovarian cancer, menstruation—this is just part of being a woman—you can also experience pain and this is what you do about it.

The thing that I like about blogs and the internet too is that I hope that it’s going to help some people find things faster because you can just do a search now, more so than in the past.  I hope that 20 years from now I’m not seeing someone that’s been suffering for 20 years.  And to be ideological, that’s another reason why I became a sex therapist or why I’m interested in this field.  In all aspects of sexuality, even STIs or teen pregnancy, people don’t want to talk about it but the more we talk about it, the more healthier sex lives we’re going to have.

12.  If you could communicate one thing to every person dealing with sexual pain, what would you say?

You’re not alone and there is hope, and come see Dr. G!*  I can’t take their pain away as a therapist but he does a pretty good job (or find a practitioner that can).  Don’t give up.  And it’s not normal—you shouldn’t feel pain during sex.  Don’t settle for that or don’t live your life thinking that it’s just the way it has to be, because it doesn’t.

13.  Do you have any other final thoughts you would like to share that weren’t covered in the previous questions?

Just that I think it’s cool that you’re doing this.  Even if it just saves one woman’s life, knowing that there’s someone else out there.

*Dr. Irwin Goldstein, MD, often referred to as Dr. G, is the Director of San Diego Sexual Medicine and a world leader in Sexual Medicine.  Stay tuned as I plan to corner him for an interview sometime soon!

For more information about Dr. Hartzell and San Diego Sexual Medicine, check out their website You can also contact the center directly at (619) 265-8865. People travel to San Diego Sexual Medicine from all over the world to receive treatment for their sexual health concerns. You can also learn more about Dr. Hartzell on her website

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