Many people struggle with intimacy, and fear of intimacy can be a common concern in therapy. It denotes mutual vulnerability, openness and sharing. It requires a great deal of trust and some people can find it frightening and overwhelming for a whole range of reasons. These can be from past traumas such as sexual abuse or sexual assault. Pain can also play a part in feeding anxiety when it comes to sex as well as a change in hormones, post pregnancy, going through menopause or even having a lack of sex education. All these factors can play a part in having anxiety around sex because people can have unrealistic expectations about what healthy sex is.
People see what sex is like in porn and movies vs their real lives which just doesn’t match up. Worrying about how much sex they should be having also plays a part in sexual anxiety. It’s worth checking there aren’t any physical problems as many physiological problems can increase sexual dysfunction which will increase anxiety levels. It may be a medication that person is on which could be effecting their libido. If someone is dealing with pain and vaginismus but haven’t been diagnosed yet there will be more anxiety and worry about penetration, so please speak to your GP or a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist. If anxiety crops up around penetration try to avoid it until you have built your confidence up. Talking to your partner about what you are experiencing and explore other ways to be intimate. We recommend getting to know Dame Zee which is a non-penetrative small and simple toy to help you get in touch with yourself or during foreplay with lubricant which will ease penetration and enhance pleasure and confidence.
Aoife Drury, Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist says “let’s debunk the myth that having sex means erections and penetration combined. Great sex can be playful, whole-body caressing, that our poor-sex-education-definition gave us.” Amen.
The anxiety could be related to issues of shame around how you think you look or how experienced you might or might not be. Try to pin point where that shame comes from and speak to your partner about it or a therapist.