About Sex — And How To Ease
We stress over our jobs, our relationships, our finances
and our friendships — and unfortunately, even our
bedrooms can become a breeding ground for anxiety.
Sex may be touted as one of the most effective (and
pleasurable) forms of stress relief , but it can also be a
major source of insecurity for women. Performance
anxiety isn’t limited to men, and if your sex life isn’t as
mind-blowing as it could be, it’s possible that your own
worries are getting in the way.
Body image issues, orgasm obstacles and STD woes
are just a few of the concerns that can keep women
from letting go and enjoying their time between the
sheets. If you suspect that your anxiety about sex
might be preventing you from optimizing your pleasure,
it might be worth taking a look at some of your own
sexual insecurities. Scroll through the list below for 10
common worries about sex — and why they’re not
worth the stress.
1. I can’t orgasm from intercourse.
The inability to climax is arguably the most universal
female sexual problem: Recent studies have suggested
that roughly 75 percent of women can’t orgasm
through penetrative sex, and 10 to 15 percent can’t
orgasm under any circumstances. And in fact, until
recently, the sheer existence of the vaginal orgasm was
If you’re one of the 25 percent of women who
consistently orgasm during intercourse,
congratulations! But if orgasms elude you, bear in mind
that the inability to climax makes you normal , not
abnormal, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy
a fulfilling sex life. Experiment with other ways of
achieving orgasm, and make sure you have a partner
who’s willing to try a whole range of techniques to give
2. I don’t look good naked.
Body image isn’t solely a self-esteem issue: It can also
significantly impact your sex life. According to
psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, 61 percent of
women are thinking about what their bodies look like
during sex, and a 2011 Fitness Magazine study found
that 51 percent of women would give up sex for a year
to be skinny.
Needless to say, feeling unattractive (and trying to
avoid positions that you fear may be unflattering) tends
to kill the mood. So instead of forcing yourself to have
sex when you’re not feeling up for it, try to do
something that does make you feel sexy, whether that’s
a night out with friends, taking a yoga class or treating
yourself to a deep-tissue massage. Giving yourself
pleasure can also be a great way to boost your body
A good partner will be willing to wait until you’re in the
mood, so don’t push yourself if you’d rather curl up
with a movie than hop into bed. When you are ready to
have sex again, focus on the sensations — and remind
yourself that you, like anyone else, deserve pleasure.
And consider this: While you’re worrying about all the
things you think are wrong with your body, your partner
is probably appreciating everything he or she loves
3. I don’t have a “normal” vagina.
Like negative body image, worry that your ladyparts are
unattractive can seriously undermine your sexual
confidence, and it’s led many women to undergo
surgical procedures to attain a more “desirable” vagina.
The porn industry in particular has been instrumental in
changing cultural conceptions of what a vagina
“should” look like in order for it to be sexually appealing.
(Heaven forbid any part of the female body escape
evaluation by today’s often unrealistice beauty
This anxiety about vaginal appearance was the
inspiration behind the recent Large Labia Project , a
Tumblr that encourages women to celebrate the beauty
of their vulvas by submitting “vagina selfies.”
Collectively, the photos deliver a message we all need
to hear: Whether you’re shaven or unshaven, have
large labia or small, there’s nothing wrong with your
vagina. Try to appreciate it as much as your partner(s)
4. I’m bad at sex.
Let’s face it: Mediocre sex is no fun for anyone
involved. But before you start berating yourself for your
lack of sexual prowess, bear in mind that good sex has
more to do with how committed two people are to
giving each other pleasure than how advanced their
There are a lot of factors that go into creating a less-
than-steamy sex session, so if you’re feeling
unsatisfied, consider the other conditions that may be
putting a damper on your sex life. Sub-par sex could be
the result of feeling uncomfortable with your partner, or
it could be that you’re still learning what really turns you
on. With the right person and a little experimenting, you
can have stellar sex — it’s just a matter of build up your
confidence (see #2) and comfort level with your
partner. And of course, as with anything else in life,
practice makes perfect.
5. Sex with my partner will eventually get boring/
Contrary to popular belief, married couples actually
report having more regular sex and higher levels of
sexual satisfaction than those who are single or in
unmarried relationships. As many married couples can
tell you, sex within a committed relationship doesn’t
have to be monotonous — in fact, it can be the best
kind of sex. There’s a high level of comfort and
intimacy, not to mention that your partner knows what
you want and exactly how to give it to you.
Women’s levels of desire have been shown to gradually
decrease over time in committed relationships. If your
sex routine is getting a little stale, experts recommend
talking openly to your partner about your sexual needs
and trying new things (role play? sex toys?) to turn the
heat back up.
6. My sex drive is too low.
If you’re suffering from a lack of desire, you’re not
alone: A 2008 survey of over 30,000 women found that
increasing numbers of women report sexual problems,
including 10 percent of women ages 18 to 44 who
reported low sexual desire.
What you need to know is that it’s not your fault: Low
sex drive could be the result of certain forms of birth
control, lack of sleep or taking antidepressants. Stress,
depression and relationship issues can also be the
culprits, according to ABC News . If you’re not sure
what’s dampening your desire, talk to your
gynecologist — the good news is that there are many
ways to boost a low libido.
7. I’ve had too many (or not enough) sexual partners.
Some of us will experience many different types of sex ,
while others will only experience one type of sex with
one partner. When it comes to sexual experience, there
is no “normal.” You’ve grown and learned from your
experiences, whatever and however many they may be,
so don’t stress about which end of the spectrum
(women aged 30-44 report an average of four sexual
partners, according to the Kinsey Institute ) your
number of partners falls on. As Entertainment Weekly
critic Lisa Schwarzbaum put it in a review of the flop
2011 rom com “What’s Your Number?” , “Who in this day
and age is counting?”
8. My STD is going to ruin my sex life.
Finding out that you have an STD is difficult, but it isn’t
a death sentence for your sex life. Eighty percent of
sexually-active singles will contract HPV at some point
in their lives, and approximately one in four adults living
in New York City has genital herpes. Your STD might feel
like a scarlet “A,” but the stigma around these diseases
is fading. If you’re nervous about telling prospective
partners about your situation, try a dating site like
positivesingles.com , which is exclusively for individuals
with sexually transmitted diseases.
9. I’m not having sex right now.
If it seems like everyone around you is having multiple
orgasms and getting it on in public bathrooms while
you’re stuck in sexual limbo, think again: Half of
Americans are unsatisfied with their sex lives, according
to a 2012 survey . If you’re going through a dry spell
(and please note: we all do), try to remember that when
spring inevitably comes again, having taken a break will
mean that you have a better understanding of your
sexual and relationship needs — and be in a better
position to ask for them.
10. I get turned on by things I don’t actually want to do
in real life.
Despite the wealth of research that’s been done on the
subject, there are many aspects of female sexual desire
that we still don’t understand. What we do know is that
a woman’s capacity for arousal is generally far more
fluid than a man’s. In an often-cited 2009 study , men
and women were shown clips of a variety of sexual
activities — sex between men and women, homosexual
sex, animal sex, and more — and found that while
straight men were aroused by heterosexual and lesbian
sex, women were more aroused across the board.
However, although women experienced physical
arousal, they didn’t report being turned on. Their
conclusion? When it comes to sex, our minds and
bodies are frequently in disagreement.
If you’re a straight woman having lesbian fantasies, or
you have domination fantasies that may not be in line
with your feminist values, remember that desire isn’t
always logical, moral, or politically correct. Fantasizing
about something doesn’t necessarily mean you want to
act it out in reality. And if you find that you do, it’s
possible to act out fantasies in a safe way. The
important thing is not to berate yourself for your
Tell us: Which worries