Dealing with sexual anxiety - Play Safe
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Whether you’re new to sex or pretty experienced, sexual anxiety is real and can impact you at any stage. But never fear, we’ve put together some info to help you recognise, accept and work towards moving past it.

What is sexual anxiety?

Sexual anxiety is actually a common thing to experience, so if you are feeling anxious about sex or your sexual health, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone ❤️

Sexual anxiety is a fear-based response to sex and/or intimacy and like other types of anxiety, it comes in many forms. You could be nervous about the idea of sex, have a fear of contracting an STI from sex, be worried about sexual performance, or something else entirely!

It’s important that you manage your sexual anxiety to ensure you’re confident having conversations about safe sex and consent with your partner/s.

What causes sexual anxiety?

Sexual anxiety can be caused by a past experience, everyday stresses or it may be due to something you’re struggling with that you don’t yet understand about yourself. There are many reasons why you might be feeling the way you are but know that you have every right to feel whatever you’re feeling.

How do I know if I have sexual anxiety?

Sexual anxiety presents differently in each person. In saying that, some common symptoms of sexual anxiety can include:

  • The thought of sex makes you panic, feel uneasy, or uncomfortable.
  • While you’re having sex, you’re not really present in the moment. Instead, you’re worrying about what might happen or something going wrong.
  • You may find yourself avoiding sex or changing your behaviour around sex.
  • Instead of feelings and thoughts of pleasure and enjoyment, sex makes you feel worried or fearful.
  • Sexual anxiety can also result in physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness, delayed or premature ejaculation, or difficulty maintaining an erection.

If you’re not sure why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling, you can speak about it with your GP and they can work with you to find support that works for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to talk it through with a counsellor, reach out to a free 24/7 service like Headspace or Beyond Blue.

How to cope with sexual anxiety

There are plenty of ways you can work on moving past sexual anxiety. Different things work differently for different people, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Here are a few of our suggestions:

1. COMMUNICATION

In many cases, having an open and honest conversation about what’s going on and how you feel is one of the best ways to overcome sexual anxiety. Whether you choose to talk to your partner, a trusted friend or speak directly to your doctor or a qualified therapist, talking about how you are feeling can really help ease some of the stress and anxiety you’re experiencing. 

If there’s something specific that’s making you anxious, consider what your boundaries are when it comes to sex and make sure you communicate those with anyone you’re having sex with. It may feel like an ‘unsexy’ conversation but clearly communicating what you like and don’t like is a really important part of sex. Also, knowing what you want and having the confidence to communicate it? HOT. 

Don’t forget that what you want can change and just because you consented to something in the past, doesn’t mean you have consented to it forever. Consent is required every time you have sex and it is against the law for someone to have sex or continue sex without consent.

2. STAYING SAFE

When you’re experiencing sexual anxiety it can be tempting to avoid getting an STI test, especially when it’s contributing to your anxiety.

The good news is that getting tested for STIs is really easy and most of the time you will just have to pee in a cup and get a blood test. It’s also completely free if you have a Medicare card and visit a bulk billing medical centre. If you’re over 14 your results are kept confidential (even from your parents or guardian) as long is there is no risk to your life.

While it may seem scary, knowing your STI status may actually help take away some of your anxiety because you will know where you stand. 

  • Find your nearest bulk billing medical centre/GP here.
  • Read more about confidentiality and privacy here.

Did you know that if you’re 15 years or older you can get your own Medicare card? Find out more here.

3. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “yeah nah, this whole sex thing isn’t for me” you might have had the urge to hit up Doctor Google for some answers. What might surprise you though is that about 75 million people feel the same way. Asexuality or Ace is a sexual orientation defined by a lack of sexual attraction or low/non-existent interest in having sex (regardless of gender or appearance).

If you’re interested in reading more about asexuality, click here. 

At the end of the day, sex and the idea of sex can be scary and feeling whatever you’re feeling about sex is valid. Working through any sexual anxiety and figuring out what you need to feel safe and confident can be incredibly rewarding but it doesn’t happen overnight so be patient with yourself <3 

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, you can get in touch with one of the following crisis and counselling support services:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au 
  • Kids Helpline (for under 25s): 1800 55 1800 orkidshelpline.com.au
  • 13 Yarn (for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people): 13 92 76 or13yarn.org.au
  • QLife (for LGBTI support): 1800 184 527 orqlife.org.au
  • If you think you may need psychological therapy, you can visit your GP who will work with you to find the service that may best meet your needs. 

   

Do you have questions about sexual health? Why not join the conversation on the Play Safe sex and relationship forum or ask Nurse Nettie a question. Or find out more about STI testing and STI treatment in Sydney and NSW.

Could I have an STI?