What do YOU worry about during sex? Tracey Cox reveals the four biggest bedroom fears for men and women – and how to overcome them
- British sex expert Tracey Cox reveals men and women’s four biggest sex fears
- Women are body-conscious, worry they won’t orgasm or will catch an STI
- Men worry about their penis size, climaxing too soon and losing their erection
- Tracey gives tips on how to overcome each of these fears during intercourse
Sex is meant to be fun, right? For many, it’s a source of stress and anxiety instead.
What if my body isn’t good enough? What if my penis doesn’t work? Say I’m rubbish in bed and can’t make them orgasm?
Worrying about sex is common for all genders and sexualities – and it’s on the rise.
Blame porn, social media, a society where we are encouraged to be the best at everything – all are culpable – but it won’t stop those paranoid thoughts racing around your brain.
Here’s some practical advice to help soothe the fears and anxieties that seriously interfere with sexual enjoyment.
HER TOP FOUR SEX FEARS
British sex expert Tracey Cox reveals men and women’s four main tips when it comes to intercourse, and dispenses advice on how to overcome them (stock picture)
Given the availability of condoms and most people now aware of how infections are transmitted, it comes as a surprise to discover this is still most women’s number one sex fear…
What if I catch an STI or get pregnant?
Men also worry about catching an STI – it’s the top fear for both genders – but women worry more about safe sex for good reason.
Not only are we the ones that get pregnant, we’re also more likely to catch some STI’s because the vaginal tissue is delicate and microtears are common during intercourse. This makes it easier for infections to take hold.
Condoms break around eight per cent of the time, they slip around four per cent of the time. Nearly always, this is caused by user error
Deal with it: Use a condom every single time (obviously) but also do a quick visual check of the genitals as well, looking for any sores or warts. (You can do this quite discreetly while delivering some hand stimulation.)
Tracey, pictured, says you should look up all the birth control and safe sex advice you can find online in order to avoid catching and STI or getting pregrant
Using a condom doesn’t protect us against all STIs (though it’s still the best protection we have). Herpes, genital warts and syphilis can be spread by skin-to-skin contact and often occur at the base of the penis, unprotected by the condom.
Make sure he reads the instructions carefully on how to put on a condom properly and holds it at the base before he withdraws.
Ideally, you would also use dental dams – sheets of latex that you lay over the genitals before giving oral sex – though sex educators and doctors have pretty much given up on dispensing this advice because so few people follow it.
What is a sensible idea, if you’re in a monogamous relationship and want to settle down, is to both take an STI check and then ditch the condoms once you’ve got the all clear. There are some great home testing kits if you don’t want to rock up at your doctors or a sexual health clinic.
What if he doesn’t like my body?
A UK YouGov study (2019) found one in five adults felt shame, 34% felt down and 19% were plain disgusted with their bodies in the last year.
Women, especially, feel the need to conform to the societal ideal of the ‘perfect’ body which is largely unattainable for most women. Is it any wonder that taking our clothes off for a lover easily turns from pleasurable to stressful?
Deal with it: A bad body image causes ‘spectatoring’ during sex – imagining what you look like, rather than letting yourself be in the moment. Needless to say, this is not a good thing.
Close your eyes if you keep fixating on parts of your body during sex and focus on what you’re feeling rather than what you’re seeing. Be active in bed: the more you do with and to your partner, the less likely you are to get distracted by negative thoughts.
Improving your sex skills also helps: women who know they are sexually competent rarely experience body consciousness while they’re having sex – even if they do outside of the bedroom.
What if he judges me?
While men are worrying about being ‘bad’ in bed (and her reporting back to all her mates), women are busy worrying about being seen as a little too good, for fear it makes us appear too experienced or eager. Read ‘slutty’: an old-fashioned word that should have been banished decades ago but determinedly (and depressingly) still hangs around.
It’s a lot better than it was but there are still plenty of women who are judged for the number of people they sleep with. Is it any wonder we’ll sometimes rein in our enthusiasm for fear of being thought ‘loose’?
Deal with it: Actively challenge these outdated beliefs and expose them for what they are: rubbish! If you sleep with a person who does judge you, let them have it.
You’re accused of liking sex ‘too much’ or being ‘very experienced’ (said snidely)? Look them straight in the eyes and say, ‘Why are you threatened by me enjoying myself during sex? Is it because you don’t think you’re a very good lover?’.
That should stop most in their tracks.
What if I don’t orgasm?
We all know why you probably won’t (see his number one fear) but lack of clitoral stimulation isn’t the only thing that gets in the way of us climaxing with a partner.
It takes time to get to know each other’s bodies and build up the trust lots of women need to let go. The time of the month, how the relationship is progressing, what else is happening in our lives, how much we’ve drunk, how energetic we feel: all of these factors affect whether or not we climax.
Not having an orgasm doesn’t mean you haven’t enjoyed sex with your partner but most men think it does. Which leads to the next worry: should you fake it if you don’t?
Deal with it: Make sure your partner is aware that women need clitoral stimulation to climax: let him know if you rarely orgasm through intercourse and would love him to use his fingers, tongue or a vibrator on you as well.
Make sure he knows what technique works for you and what doesn’t: speak up or, better still, show him.
More importantly, let him know that orgasms don’t happen every single time most women have sex and that he shouldn’t expect it to happen.
If your partner doesn’t get upset about you not having an orgasm, there’s no need to fake one.
Men are more likely to worry about the size of their penis, while women will be scared of getting pregnant or contracting an STI (stock picture)
HIS TOP FOUR SEX FEARS
Who’d be a man? Far from having penis envy, most women are very happy not having a penis where everything is on show!
What if I can’t get or maintain an erection?
All men struggle with erection anxiety at some point – and it’s on the rise.
More and more men in their 20s and 30s panic at the thought of not being able to rise to the occasion. Around 50 per cent of men in their 30s (in one study of 2000 British males) reported difficulties in getting and maintaining an erection.
Lots of men think they have erectile dysfunction when it’s actually anxiety over their performance which is causing it.
A few failed attempts at sex doesn’t not mean someone is impotent. But watching porn and believing it to be ‘real’ and worrying unnecessarily can cause problems long-term.
Deal with it: It’s easy to say stop worrying, not so easy to do it if it’s something that’s really upsetting you. More helpful, if this is you, is to avoid penetrative sex for a while and focus on pleasuring your partner instead. Once the pressure is off, anxiety drops and things will often return to normal.
ED is something all men deal with at some stage or another, so take this as reassurance.
Also recognize that it’s normal for erections to come and go during a sex session. Penises like constant stimulation and if it stops for a bit – you’re paying attention to your partner and your penis is ignored – your erection will subside. This is normal: it usually springs back to life once stimulation starts again.
What if I orgasm too soon?
Most men think anything under five minutes is classed as premature ejaculation. If that was true, the majority would qualify.
It’s entirely normal for men to last between three and five minutes of intercourse before ejaculating. Premature ejaculation usually means you will lose control in under two minutes.
Around 30 per cent of men are affected by PE but it’s something that worries men far more than women.
Most women don’t get their orgasms through intercourse anyway, so him not lasting very long makes no difference. Other activities – kissing, cuddling, using fingers or sex toys, oral sex – are far more enjoyable to us.
Deal with it: Most of the myths about PE aren’t true. We associate it with teenagers but it affects men of all ages.
It was thought that men teach themselves to ejaculate quickly by masturbating as fast as they could during adolescence, eager not to get caught. Turns out that has no bearing on PE either.
It’s now known to be a genetic condition: men with PE have a brain chemistry that predisposes them to it.
While it can’t be ‘cured’ it can be managed by using delay sprays or creams, focusing on oral skills not intercourse to deliver orgasms and practicing a technique called ‘edging’. (working out how aroused you can get before losing control completely.)
There’s also evidence that a side-effect of taking SSRI’s (anti-depressants) – delayed ejaculation – can make men with PE last up to four or five times longer. Clearly this is something you need to talk to your doctor about (obviously).
What if she doesn’t have an orgasm?
The harsh reality is, if you’re a man and expecting her to orgasm through intercourse without any added clitoral stimulation, you’re going to be disappointed 75 per cent of time.
That’s right – only 25 per cent of women orgasm through penetration alone. This fact should be etched on all our brains by now (we’ve known this for around 2000 years – it’s in the Kama Sutra) but for some reason, it’s something both men and women choose to ignore.
Even if you’re savvy enough to know all female orgasms originate from the clitoris, a significant study (2016) unearthed the disturbing result that while 95 per cent of straight men usually or always orgasm during sex, only 65 per cent of straight women can say the same.
Deal with it: Focus less on intercourse and more on your oral sex skills. The chances of her orgasming during a sex session rise significantly when oral sex is performed. Make sure your technique is good (there are detailed guides on my website) and ask her for lots of feedback. While the basics apply to most women (keep it wet, soft and consistent), we all have individual needs and wants.
What if my penis isn’t big enough?
One study of 50,000 people revealed that 45 per cent of men say they’d like a larger penis. Interestingly, excessive concerns over penis size are higher among men with average-sized penises than men with penises on the smaller side.
The same study found 85 per cent of women are satisfied with their partner’s penis size compared to the 55 per cent of men who aren’t.
How do deal with it: When it comes to sex, penis size is WAY down the list for most women. It’s what’s attached to the penis that counts.
Sex skills, attentiveness, asking for feedback and being happy to receive it, being nice outside of bed as well as in it – all of this will get you more brownie points than rolling up with a largish member and expecting her to swoon over it.
Try to relax and allow yourself to be reassured: if there ever is an issue over size, it’s never about the penis.
It’s about the owner’s fixation and paranoia over it – now that really can destroy good sex!
Visit traceycox.com for Tracey’s books and product ranges. Submit a question for her weekly podcast, SexTok, at sextokpod.com.
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