In men, we know what it looks like — difficulty getting an erection, keeping an erection, or coming too soon. I put all that under the umbrella term of 'sexual performance anxiety. And why do we feel sexual performance anxiety? Here, the matters get a little more complex, but to simplify: we tend to become insecure about how well we do in bed or what we may look like to our partners, or we may simply be daunted by the idea of becoming so intimate with someone.
In some cases, sexual performance anxiety stems from a past traumatic experience — perhaps related to sexual violence. If that is your situation, please do not hesitate to seek out specialist advice. But, in most cases — as sex educator Amy Jo Goddard explains — this response is conditioned by the way in which we were brought up to think about certain aspects of sex and our own bodies, and by social expectations that impact our relationship with our own sexuality. Below, we give you some tips about how to tackle these moments of uncertainty and worry both before and during sexual encounters, so you can enjoy a happier, healthier sex life.
Body image is often an important factor in achieving a healthy sex life. If we feel insecure about the way that our body looks, we may worry about whether or not our partner finds us attractive.
This, needless to say, is not at all conducive to enjoyment. Studies have noted that a significant number of men and women have body image issues, which might lead to all manner of anxieties when the time comes to slip between the sheets with that special person.
For instance, a study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that about a third of college women feel unhappy with how their body looks, and that this self-consciousness was detrimental to enjoying their time in bed with a partner. Other research — that studied young men enrolled in the military — found that more than a third of the participants had a poor image of their own genitalia, which often led to erectile dysfunction. So, what can be done if you're worried that your body isn't "supermodel quality," whatever that may mean?
According to sex educator and researcher Emily Nagoski, you should take steps to get comfortable in your skin by actively acknowledging everything you like about your body — repeatedly. She advises doing the following exercise. You're going to look at what you see there, and you're going to write down everything you see that you like.
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Another obstacle that may be contributing to your sexual performance anxiety — although you may not like to hear this — is simply a lack of appropriate sex education. This doesn't necessarily mean that you don't yet know which bits go where, but perhaps that you haven't been fully prepared for the realities of a sexual encounter.
The reality is that everyone functions differently and has different needs. Maybe you're not sure about the techniques of achieving — or giving — pleasure. Or, perhaps you've heard myths about pregnancy, or how your body is "supposed" to react during sex. If you have any worries at all about sex, it may be worth speaking to a healthcare professional to get reassurance, reading a book or two exploring this topic, or joining workshops led by sex educators.
As Goddard explains, "[A]dults need sex education, too. If we didn't learn it somewhere, then how can we have the fulfilling sexual lives that we really want to have? You just didn't get the education that you need, you just didn't get the resources that you need. On that note, you may also find it helpful to self-educate simply by exploring your own body and what gives you pleasure. Take the time to learn what turns you on and how you like things done.
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Despite the fact that masturbation is — unfortunately — still typically portrayed as a shameful or even dangerous act, research points to the contrary , explaining that it can actually improve our relationship with our bodies and with our sexuality. Once you know what you enjoy, it's very important to learn to voice your needs when in bed with an intimate partner, and to explain what's going through your head. If you trust this person enough to want to get it on with them, why not tell them if something isn't working? Open communication may just be the best way forward if you are worried about taking a long time to orgasm, being unable to stay aroused, or being afraid that you won't even become aroused in the first place.
Research has shown, and the MeToo movement has highlighted, that men have a tendency to tolerate the sexual harassment of women by other men. Evidence has emerged to suggest that women may also share the same sexist attitudes when it comes to tolerating the sexual harassment of men. In a study from Pennsylvania State University, the researchers found that there was no significant difference between males and females in terms of sexist attitudes that are known to reinforce gender inequality.
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This highlighted a shared set of beliefs across both sexes to justify toleration of sexual harassment. The researchers conclude that this shared set of sexist attitudes and toleration of sexual harassment may serve to enforce or maintain gender roles, for both men and women. One consistent finding across the evidence on male sexual harassment is that it can have a detrimental impact on mental health.
Men who have been sexually harassed are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse. This can in turn lead to education and employment problems, such as dropping out of school, quitting work and low morale. It seems that sexual harassment is an issue that impacts both sexes. The MeToo movement is inclusive, after all. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Robin Bailey , University of Central Lancashire.
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We asked our followers what men and women could be doing to reduce sexual harassment or assault. Tweets are edited fro clarity and grammar:. By acknowledging assault is real, in places like the military and college campuses, and that consequences will be enforced. The U. Abusers should learn to keep their hands to themselves. Abused should stop feeling guilty and speak out, as soon as it happens. We need to teach all young people to value and respect others, and discipline the ones who struggle with this.
End the privileged sex predator tolerance mentality.