Sex can be anxiety-inducing; even just the idea of sex can make my heartbeat quicken and my fingers shake.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sex, I love it a lot, but navigating an anxiety disorder and a sex life can feel like a full time job. Here are my tips and tricks for having productive and enjoyable sex while also living with anxiety.
1. Know Your Limits
Before entering into any kind of sexual encounter, check in with yourself. For me, this looks like a ten-minute chat with myself. I ask myself: what is my body telling me? What does my body want right now? What does it not want? How am I going to communicate my needs to this other person? Do I feel well enough to engage? Am I doing this because I want to or because I think I should? Will this make me more anxious? The list goes on.
The number one way to combat anxiety during sex is to be sure you feel comfortable before it begins.
Before having sex with someone (or someones), tell them how anxiety affects you. Choose a safe word. Make sure your partner or partners are ready and willing to stop if you need. Remind them (and yourself) that anxiety is not a thing that you control, but it is something you can combat together.
3. Sex Doesn’t Have to End in an Orgasm
Potentially one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of sex is the societal norm that sex has to be orgasm-driven. Not everybody can orgasm every time, especially when anxiety is involved. The physical symptoms of anxiety can affect the genitals (the clitoris can become too sensitive or not sensitive enough and the penis can have trouble staying erect) and this is beyond your control.
If this happens to you, take a break! Play with nipples, do some making out, or get up to go to the bathroom. Listen to your body and give it the respect it deserves, even if this means forgoing orgasm.
4. Let Yourself Laugh
Sex is awkward. Sex is weird. Allow yourself to be imperfect. There is no right way to have sex. There is no wrong way to have sex (as long as there is consent, please always have consent). Release yourself of the mindset that sex needs to be a certain way.
Also, sex is hard. It takes time to figure out somebody else’s body. Allow yourself that time, allow yourself practice, allow yourself to make mistakes.
5. Seek Help
If your anxiety is debilitating to the point that sex causes panic attacks, please seek help. Find a therapist or a sexologist (yes that is a real job) who can help you sort through your anxiety and bring your body and your mind to a healthier and happier place. Do not give up.
Anxiety can be completely debilitating, especially when it comes to sex. But this does not mean that people with anxiety cannot have sex. Follow these tips and tricks and really listen to your body! Good luck, you sexy human! You got this!