The Scoop: Dr. Martha Tara Lee is a couples and sex therapist based in Singapore. She’s the founder of Eros Coaching, a counseling practice that services individuals and couples experiencing challenges in their sex lives. Dr. Martha is a passionate advocate for improved sex education and works with clients from diverse backgrounds, including LGBTQ-identifying individuals and folks who participate in BDSM and kink. She gave us a glimpse into the most common obstacles her clients face, from vaginismus to unbalanced sex drives.
Singapore has a reputation for being a prosperous city-state that embraces multiculturalism and thrives on the diversity of its population. In February 2021, the Institute of Policy Studies published “Our Singaporean Values,” a publication that shared the findings of the latest installment of the World Values Survey. The publication was designed to explore the attitudes and beliefs of the citizens of the diverse city-state.
World Values Survey is the largest non-commercial, cross-national, and time-series survey of public attitudes and values. World Values Survey surveyed 2,012 Singapore participants in 2020 and asked them questions about individual priorities, personal ethics, religion, sex, employment, and more.
The survey asked participants about their feelings toward premarital sex, homosexuality, sex work, and other topics related to relationships and sex. While a majority of Singaporean respondents still hold conservative opinions toward these topics, the survey exposed that younger respondents were more open to premarital sex and homosexuality.
Dr. Martha Tara Lee is a Singaporean relationship counselor, sexologist, and sexuality educator. She is the founder of Eros Coaching, a counseling practice based in Singapore. Dr. Martha talked to us about her experiences in sex therapy and relationship counseling and shared her perspective on common sex challenges couples encounter.
“When I started, there really wasn’t anyone who was born and raised in Asia who was working in sexuality support,” Dr. Martha said. “Being Asian and living in Singapore, I work with a lot of clients who have inhibitions around sex and sexuality, and we work through it.”
Eros Coaching Helps Couples Overcome Challenges
Eros Coaching was founded in 2009 by Dr. Martha. She wanted to help individuals and couples lead self-actualized and pleasurable lives. Dr. Martha holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality and a Masters in Counseling. She saw a real need for reputable and accredited sex therapy services for people in Singapore.
When Dr. Martha started Eros Coaching, she was the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists in the region. She works with men, women, couples, LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, and members of BDSM and kink communities. Dr. Martha told us she has a passion for helping people explore their sexualities and live connected lives.
Dr. Martha specializes in helping individuals experiencing vaginismus, unconsummated marriages, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and imbalanced sex drives. She speaks both English and Mandarin and told us her clients represent a multitude of national and sexual identities.
“When it comes to clients, I would say I have 50% Singaporeans and 50% expats,” Dr. Martha said. “So 50% are from some place other than Singapore.” Serving clients from diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds gives Dr. Martha a unique perspective on sex, sexuality, and how individuals and couples operate within their own attitudes toward sex.
Sex education is important to Dr. Martha and remains a central part of Eros Coaching’s mission. Dr. Martha and her team offer dynamic and customizable public education workshops and programs for educational institutions and organizations. Dr. Martha told us that inadequate sex education is a challenge she encounters frequently during her work with couples in sex therapy.
Dr. Martha Explores Sex Education & Healthy Sexuality
Dr. Martha told us many of her clients struggle to find the language to express their experiences with sex and sexuality adequately. “A lack of sexual education has led to many people having strong inhibitions when talking about sex and very little knowledge of what they’ve experienced. It’s more likely to lead to negative, painful, or even traumatic initial sexual experiences.”
Inadequate sex education leaves individuals without the language to express their own sexualities and sexual experiences. This can lead to further repression and increased inhibitions, both in bed and when discussing sex. This is why Dr. Martha is so passionate about increasing accessibility to comprehensive sex education.
Dr. Martha said many of her clients are not very connected to their bodies. Many of her female clients struggle with vaginismus, which is vaginal discomfort during intercourse. Dr. Martha said that almost 90% of women suffering from vaginismus have anxiety or fear around intercourse and penetration. This can be caused by sexual trauma, a lack of emotional connection between partners, or anticipation of pain during intercourse.
Many of Dr. Martha’s male clients suffer from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. Dr. Martha told us many of her male clients prefer masturbating to intercourse with a partner. “The reason behind this is that it’s easier for them to masturbate because they aren’t confident with their sexualities,” she said. “This can lead to desensitization, which makes sex with their partner difficult, or premature ejaculation during sex.”
Dr. Martha said she sees many people in sexless marriages, and she said this often wreaks havoc on every other aspect of the relationship. She said many times, sexual dysfunction within a relationship has a deeper root, whether it be a lack of sex education or emotional intimacy between partners.
Dr. Martha helps her clients get to the root of their problems through therapeutic comprehensive sex education, along with talk therapy and constructive exercises. Dr. Martha said she wants the conversation around sex and sexual wellness to be meaningful, thoughtful, and well-rounded.
Finding Intimacy Through Increased Connection
Since same-sex marriage has been legalized in Singapore, Dr. Martha has seen an uptick in the number of LGBTQ+ clients she treats. “I don’t think the government realized what a profound impact these laws had on the emotional well-being of LGBTQ+ people,” she said. “Now, so many of them feel like they finally have the acceptance and safety they need to self-actualize.”
Singapore is a diverse place, and Dr. Martha treats clients of varied sexualities, religious backgrounds, and ethnic identities. She told us that religious beliefs can inform the way her clients view, treat, and talk about sex. Harmful or repressive views around sex can lead to shame, guilt, or fear around sex.
When people receive comprehensive sex education, they are equipped with the language and knowledge they need to understand their own bodies and sexualities. It also allows them to have healthier sexual interactions with their partners. Sexual health is an integral part of overall personal health. Dr. Martha said that cultivating a healthy sex life is essential to self-actualization.
Dr. Martha said that it’s important for individuals or couples seeking professional support to verify any provider’s certifications and accreditation. Sex is such a sensitive topic, and real harm can be done by an unqualified or misinformed practitioner.
“Couples come to me who need help with all kinds of different challenges,” Dr. Martha said. “My passion is for helping men, women, and couples address their inhibitions and feel comfortable in their sexualities.”