Wouldn’t it be great if we could have amazing sex all the time? Unfortunately, certain mental, emotional and physical problems can interfere with our sexual confidence, affecting how we feel about our partner and preventing us from becoming aroused or achieving orgasm. But there are ways to deal with these “blocks” and get our sexual confidence back.
1. What’s holding you back: Negative body image
Maybe you’ve put on a little weight, or you’ve just given birth and you don’t feel as sexy as you used to. When you’re uncomfortable in your skin it can be hard to let go sexually and allow yourself to enjoy the act.
“Body image issues can cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” says Martha Lee, a clinical sexologist at Eros Coaching. “Women with this condition tend to avoid sexual feelings and sexual thoughts. They do not initiate sexual activity and are not responsive to their partner’s initiation of sexual activities.”
Get over it: Remind yourself that you’re still sexually attractive and desirable, and get rid of the notion that you have to be cellulite-free or of a certain size or weight to enjoy sex. If you hate making love with the lights on because of how you feel about your body, try doing it by candlelight or just dim the lights slightly. Let your spouse know how you feel so that he can reassure you.
2. What’s holding you back: Hormonal changes
Pregnancy, ageing, stress and illness can cause hormonal imbalances, which can in turn decrease your sexual desire and affect your sexual confidence. Martha says that hormonal changes can also cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
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Get over it: Martha suggests consulting an endocrinologist first, to rule out any hormonal issues. Hormonal treatments can help; otherwise you may wish to discuss your lack of sexual desire with your man and think of solutions to maintain your sexual connection and intimacy. A relationship or sex counsellor can help with this.
3. What’s holding you back: Fatigue
Fatigue as a result of a lack of sleep or over-exertion can take a toll on your sexual desire and leave you feeling less-than-confident between the sheets, says Martha. When you’re low on energy, it can be hard to keep your focus on your partner or muster up any enthusiasm for getting intimate with him.
Get over it: You may be deficient in certain nutrients – speak to your doctor about taking dietary supplements or changing your diet to boost your energy levels. If you’re usually tired at night, it may be a good idea to schedule sex first thing in the morning, after a good night’s rest.
4. What’s holding you back: Performance anxiety
Many women experience anxiety about their performance in bed. They may worry that they will not orgasm or that they will not be able to please their man. According to Martha, performance anxiety is associated with orgasmic disorder, or an inability to orgasm despite high levels of arousal.
Get over it: If your anxiety is stealing your sexual confidence you need to get to the root of it. Did you have a negative sexual experience in the past? Do you worry about being compared to your man’s former sexual partner? These are just a few things that can make you want to avoid sex altogether at times. A sex counsellor can help you explore the issues that are affecting you.
5. What’s holding you back: Relationship conflicts and dissatisfaction
Conflicts with Hubby are known to cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder and orgasmic disorder, says Martha.
It’s also hard to feel good about sex when you are experiencing dissatisfaction in your relationship. This kind of emotional “block” can affect your sexual confidence and pleasure.
Get over it: Don’t let the dissatisfaction build up. The longer you ignore your negative feelings towards your spouse, the more resentful you’ll feel and the more your confidence will erode away. Talk to your spouse about the way you’ve been feeling and work towards a resolution together. If you’re not sure how to communicate this to him, a relationship counsellor can help.
6. What’s holding you back: Vaginal pain
It’s hard to feel confident about your sexual abilities if having sex is painful or physically uncomfortable. Martha says that there are three types of vaginal pain disorders, all of which can affect your sex life. She explains: “Dyspareunia is pain during attempted or completed vaginal penetration, vaginismus is when the vagina tightens when penetration is attempted – this can block the entry of the penis, and vulvodynia is the chronic itching, burning, and pain of the vulva that can lead to physical, sexual and psychological distress.”
Get over it: “You may wish to seek support from a trusted medical professional such as a gynaecologist or urologist,” says Martha. “Sex therapists and psychotherapists may also be helpful. It is always useful to bring your partner into the discussion. Treatment depends on the disorder and the cause. If the type of disorder overlaps, multiple treatments may be required.”