Whether you are a woman or a man, you may have experienced sexual anxiety over the years. It is normal to feel anxious about our prowess between sheets, but when this happens repeatedly, it can affect our quality of life. So what can you do to dispel doubts and lead a healthy sex life?
intimate partners not facing the bed
How can you overcome anxiety that prevents you from enjoying your sex life?
Sexual anxiety – or sexual performance anxiety – is a phenomenon that affects men and women of all ages, regardless of their experience of sex.
For some, this type of anxiety is short-lived and may appear briefly as a result of a new sexual relationship.
However, other people may have a hard time leading a healthy sex life because of this and may experience this type of anxiety more consistently.
But how does sexual anxiety manifest itself? According to sex therapist Claudia Six, the expressions are different for men and women, although in most cases this is related to the fear that some aspects of their presence between the sheets are disappointing for their partner.
“In women, sexual performance anxiety may appear to be a difficulty in looking at sex, difficulty awakening, or orgasm. In men, we know what it looks like – difficulty getting an erection, keeping an erection or coming too early. I put it all under the generic term of sexual performance anxiety. ”
And why do we feel the anxiety related to sexual performance? Here, things get a little more complex, but for simplicity: we tend to worry about whether we are in bed or that we can look like our partners, or we may just be discouraged by the idea of to become so intimate with someone.
In some cases, sexual performance anxiety results from a past traumatic experience, perhaps related to sexual violence. If this is your case, do not hesitate to call in a specialist. If you live in the United States, your first stop should be the hotlines of the national network of rape, abuse and incest.
But in most cases – as Amy Jo Goddard, a sex educator, explains – this response is conditioned by the way we think about certain aspects of gender and our own body, as well as the social expectations that come with it. have an impact on our relationship with ours. sexuality.
Below, we give you some tips on how to handle these moments of uncertainty and worry before and during sex, so that you can enjoy a happier and healthier sex life.
Own your body
Body image is often an important factor in leading a healthy sex life. If we are unsure of the appearance of our body, we may wonder if our partner finds us attractive or not. It goes without saying that this is not at all conducive to enjoyment.
smiling couple in the mirror
It is important to take the time to learn to appreciate your body. Beauty comes in all its forms.
Studies have shown that a significant number of men and women have problems with body image, which can cause all kinds of anxiety when it’s time to slip between the leaves with this special person.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that about one-third of female students are not satisfied with the appearance of their body and that this self-awareness is detrimental to the pleasure of spending time with their partner.
Other research – which studied young men enlisted in the military – showed that more than a third of participants had a bad image of their own genitals, which often led to erectile dysfunction.
So what can you do if you are concerned that your body is not a “model” quality, no matter what that means? According to Emily Nagoski, an educator and researcher on sex, you should take steps to put yourself at ease by actively recognizing everything you love about your body – many times.Sex and Self-Confidence: Do Genital Enhancements Help?
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She advises to do the following exercise. “You’re standing in front of a mirror, as close to the naked as you can tolerate, you’re going to look at what you see there and you’re going to write whatever you see that you like.”
“And then, do it again tomorrow, and start again tomorrow and the next day.” The key is in rehearsal, so you can start to become familiar with your body and to love it for its unique beauty.Another hurdle that may contribute to your sexual performance anxiety – even if you may not like hearing it – is simply the lack of appropriate sex education.
feet peeking under the sheets
Learn as much as you can about sex and what works – and does not work – for you.
This does not necessarily mean that you do not yet know where the information is, but perhaps you are not fully prepared for the realities of a sexual relationship. The reality is that everyone works differently and has different needs.
Maybe you are not sure of the techniques to achieve – or give – pleasure. Or maybe you’ve heard myths about pregnancy or how your body is “supposed” to react during sex.
Or, you may even worry that your wants and needs are not “normal”.
If you have concerns about sex, it may be helpful to talk to a health professional to reassure him / her, to read a book (or two) on this topic, or to participate in workshops facilitated by sex educators.
As Goddard explains, “Adults also need sex education – if we had not learned it somewhere, how could we have a fulfilling sex life that we really want?”
“Stop telling yourself how broken and unrepairable you are, because you’re not, you just did not get the education you need, you just do not have the resources you need.”
Amy Jo Goddard
On this note, you may also find it helpful to self-educate yourself by exploring your own body and what gives you pleasure. Take the time to learn what excites you and how you like to do things.
Although masturbation is – unfortunately – always described as a shameful, even dangerous act, research shows the opposite, explaining that it can actually improve our relationship with our body and our sexuality.
Express what you like
Once you know what you love, it is very important to learn to express your needs when you are in bed with an intimate partner and to explain what is going on in your head.
couple face to face
Communicate openly with your partner about your sexual needs.
If you trust that person enough to want to understand it, why not tell them that something is not working?
You can also encourage them to do more of what is.
Open communication may simply be the best way to go if you are worried about losing your orgasm for too long, not being able to stay awake, or if you are afraid of not becoming so.
A study published last year in the Journal of Therapy and Family Therapy worked with 142 committed couples and revealed that intimate partners who freely communicate their sexual needs and desires have a healthier and more fulfilling sex life.
In their article, the authors explain that “women who communicated about sex more often reached orgasm” and that talking openly about the sexual needs of a couple was linked to improved relationships and sexual satisfaction between men and women.
Six urges all people with sexual anxiety to reflect and realize that they are “not a disappointment” and that “there is room for [their] needs”. She also explains that everyone must “find their voice” to “have a good time in bed”.
“So, how can we prepare for success?” Six asks. “Gentlemen, please drop performance.” “Playing” is “entertaining an audience.” And ladies, know your body and what gives you pleasure. ”
To dispel any unwanted tension following sexual intercourse, she advises people to “lean their mouths, say what’s happening in the moment, it takes away any burden.”
And remember, those with whom you sleep really want to be there with you, and they can not wait to spend time together.
So, take advantage of this moment of connection to recognize that your partner appreciates your presence and your sexual needs and that he wants you both to be comfortable and at ease.