Surrogates can be sexual healers
Helen Hunt and John Hawkes star as a surrogate partner and her client in "The Surrogate."
February 17th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Surrogates can be sexual healers

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

A provocative movie premiered recently at  the Sundance Film Festival that caught the attention of audiences and critics as well as sexuality professionals such as myself.

The Surrogate” chronicles the true story of a relationship between a surrogate partner (played by Helen Hunt) and her client (John Hawkes), a poet who is stricken with polio and seeks to lose his virginity before he dies.

When we hear the term “surrogate,” most of us probably think of a surrogate mother, who carries and delivers a baby for another couple or person who cannot. Yet surrogate partners (sometimes called sexual surrogates) have been around for years, providing a potentially valuable, though oft-debated, service to clients who wish to increase their sexual, physical and emotional experiences.

Surrogate partners gained attention in the 1960s when William Masters and Virginia Johnson (also known as Masters and Johnson) began training surrogates at their research institute.

These days, surrogate partners are typically trained by the International Professional Surrogates Association in Los Angeles, the main surrogacy organization. Clients are referred to surrogate partners by their therapists or other mental health professionals.

So just who sees a surrogate partner? The short answer is: anyone who wants to improve his or her sexual intimacy skills or, more likely, overcome a daunting sexual problem.

Surrogates, who can be male or female, see a wide variety of clients. Some people may use a surrogate partner because they are sexually inexperienced and want to gain skills before sleeping with a romantic partner.

A man may seek a female surrogate to help him deal with issues such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. Likewise, a woman might seek a male surrogate for assistance working through issues such as painful sex or difficulty reaching orgasm with a partner.

Surrogates also work with people coping with the infirmities of multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and other physically challenging conditions - as was the case with the real-life woman upon whom “The Surrogate” is based.

Watch: A look into the work of a sex surrogate

But surrogate partners don’t just have sex with their clients. In fact, some never engage in intercourse at all, instead focusing on other intimate activities including kissing, touching, cuddling and answering the client’s questions about sex.

The goal is to provide a safe, comfortable atmosphere for clients to explore sexual issues without judgment or fear, and with a professional who is able to go beyond talk therapy and into the hands-on realm of intimacy-interaction.

And like a therapist/patient relationship, the question of whether a surrogate partner is sexually attractive to the client is not part of the equation.

Many sex therapists would prefer that their clients work through their sexual issues themselves - using their romantic partners as they would a surrogate partner, if you will.

“I always tell my patients that I cannot really know how a person works to say whether they are physically healthy or psychologically appropriate and sensitive to a person's needs," says sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos, author of the "Good in Bed Guide to Male Sexual Issues."

"Because of this (and the legalities of surrogacy in New York and other states) I do not recommend or encourage my patients to do this. I always prefer that individuals work out their issues with their partner.”

One of the main issues with sexual surrogacy is that it remains highly unregulated. The International Professional Surrogates Association does have its own code of ethics, but that only matters if a surrogate partner is trained by and aligns him or herself with this organization. Better regulation could add more legitimacy to what is already an important, but often misunderstood, profession.

You're probably asking - how is this different from prostitution? A professional, empathetic surrogate partner is light-years away from a prostitute (the services of which, in addition to being illegal outside of Nevada, often amplify rather than mitigate a sexual issue). But while sexual surrogacy is not prostitution, the legality is somewhat fuzzy, and therefore polarizing in clinical and medical circles.

Sexual surrogacy is not a contract for sex. On its website, the International Professional Surrogates Association addresses the issue of legality thus: “The legal status of surrogate partners is undefined in most of the United States and most countries around the world. This means that there are generally no laws regulating the profession.”

Even if a person is interested in retaining the services of a surrogate partner, finding a surrogate may not be easy. While the profession hit the ground running during the sexual revolution of the 1970s, today locating a surrogate partner is nothing like locating, say, a dentist, or even a sex therapist. At its peak, the association had 200 to 300 members in the United States but now has about 50.

Even if you do reside in a community with access to a surrogate (or can travel to meet one), you may face challenges: Many traditional therapists aren’t comfortable discussing sexual issues with their clients in the first place, and may be further reluctant to recommend a surrogate.

Perhaps with the release of the movie, more people will become aware of the value these partners provide and the potential role they can play as sexual healers.

Post by:
Filed under: Relationships • Sex

soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Tinder dating site

    tinder app , tinder online https://tinderdatingsiteus.com/

    January 27, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bikini bottom mysteries season 1 episode 3

    I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.


    January 27, 2021 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Stevie Osten

    I have read some good stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot effort you put to create any such excellent informative site.


    January 28, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lacy Ferrufino


    January 28, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. DFYPofitz Review

    Get Our Passive Income System – Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Run our Premium Unlimited Traffic Step 3: Setup your Paypal account. Then just sit back and relax while you watch your paypal account receiving payments during the whole day 100 in auto pilot. More info: https://www.k3reviews.com/2020/08/16/monster-mode-700k/


    January 30, 2021 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BrendaXGruhn

    Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,
    you may well be an incredible author. I am going to always bookmark your blog
    site and may often keep coming back from now on. I would
    like to encourage you to continue your great posts, have got a nice weekend!

    My website: BrendaXGruhn

    February 1, 2021 at 03:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. malatya escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...


    February 4, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. denizli escort



    February 5, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. iskenderun escort

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 5, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. mersin escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...


    February 5, 2021 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Clyde Shepperd

    Earn $1000/Day With Our Passive Income System – Best Autopilot income system 2021


    February 5, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. webpage

    Greetings from Colorado! I'm bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I love the information youu present here and can't wait to take a look when I get home.

    I'm surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I'm not evrn using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, fantastic site!

    Traditional surrogacy webpage looking for a
    surrogate mother

    February 5, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ninfa Vastano

    Earn $200/Day With Our Passive Income System – Best Autopilot income system 2021


    February 6, 2021 at 05:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. www.gu8.pw

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 6, 2021 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. www.iskenderunescort.xyz

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 7, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. iskenderun escort

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 7, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. adana escort

    iskenderun escort bayanlarla tanışmak için bu siteyi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.


    February 7, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. HansGOlenski

    What's up friends, its fantastic piece of writing on the topic of tutoringand completely explained, keep it up all
    the time.

    Here is my page ... HansGOlenski

    February 9, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RashadKGroft

    hi!,I like your writing very a whole lot! proportion we
    communicate extra approximately your article on AOL?
    I need an authority for this area to settle my problem.

    Can be that may be you! Getting a look ahead to search you.

    Review my blog – RashadKGroft

    February 10, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. zippered wallet insert

    I'm really enjoying the theme/style of your weblog.
    Do you come across any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A variety of my blog visitors have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great
    in Opera. Do you possess any solutions to help fix this issue?

    Also visit my web blog ... zippered wallet insert

    February 11, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. stickers for ukulele

    Thank you for another informative blog. Where else may I get that type of info written in such
    an ideal approach? I've a project that I am just now running on, and I have been on the glance out for such

    Here is my blog post: stickers for ukulele

    February 12, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Drive-20000 Google-Organic-Visitors

    Create a profitable digital marketing strategy and plan: https://www.seoclerk.com/Virtual-Assistant/840836/I-will-create-a-profitable-digital-marketing-strategy-and-plan


    February 16, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. SocialMedia Services2021

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery Our Website: https://smmsupreme.com/services


    February 19, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. ClarkTauts

    p6oeh wi7hd e7fp

    February 28, 2021 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Tyrell Proo

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. cheers


    March 2, 2021 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. filofax stickers

    This site definitely has all the information I wanted concerning this subject and didn't know who
    to ask.

    Check out my blog post; filofax stickers

    March 3, 2021 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Nicky Caram


    March 4, 2021 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Elliott Rushford

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again!


    March 4, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. BurtYButtram

    The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and
    tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop,
    just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is
    now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Look at my site BurtYButtram

    March 10, 2021 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. have a peek at this web-site

    52244 68315Yay google is my king aided me to uncover this outstanding web site! . 622545

    March 15, 2021 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. situs judi online

    234098 701459Im agitated all these write-up directories. It certain would be nice to have every post directory that instantly accepts articles. 987306

    March 17, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    March 24, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Reynaldo Dornbos

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Kudos!


    March 30, 2021 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. betflik68

    Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this blog.
    It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between usability and
    visual appeal. I must say that you've done a very good job with this.
    Also, the blog loads super fast for me on Safari.
    Excellent Blog!

    April 2, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.