4 Things to Do if the Thought of Sex Gives You Anxiety

Sex seems so simple in the movies, but working up to the big moment can be a challenge for many of us in real life. For some, the thought of going through with the act is enough to induce panic before or during an attempt to have sex. Whatever the reason for your anxiousness, know that it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Here are four things to do if the thought of sex gives you anxiety.

1. Wait

There is no reason to rush or force yourself into doing something you are not 100 percent mentally or physically prepared for. There is no deadline to meet when it comes to sharing an intimate moment with someone.  

Melly*, a senior at Georgia State University, had to endure heartbreak which caused her to become apprehensive about sex.

“After I was cheated on, the thought of having sex would make me nauseous,” she says. “I have chosen to wait until I am sure that I am completely healed before I jump back into giving myself to someone in that way. I am still waiting, but every day I feel like I am making progress towards being more comfortable with the idea of sex.”

Listen to your body. When you are ready to have sex with someone, your body will relax and instinct will take over. If you feel as if you have to coach yourself through every move, you may not be ready.

2. Disconnect from society's view of sex 

There's enormous pressure from society on how women should exhibit their sexuality, which may distort your perspective of sex. There's so much emphasis put on the “first time,” and keeping your body count as low as possible. You need to construct your own opinion of what sex means to you.

Trisha*, a junior at Kent State University, was afraid to have sex because of the negative stigma society places on the act.  

“At a time when most of my friends were not having sex, the one thing shoved down our throats was how much it was going to hurt,” she says. “Not only that, but adults made it seem like there was no preventing pregnancy or STDs, and that our value as women would diminish if we had sex.”

Having sex and who you have sex with does not define you. So keep that in mind if you are anxious about people looking at you differently if you do decide to have sex.

3. Test the waters

The thought of having sex may make you anxious beforehand if you overthink it. However, you may become more relaxed if you slowly work toward the goal. Taking it slowly assures your mind and body that you are comfortable.

Be vocal with you partner. If you do feel uneasy, it’s important to let them know so they can take it more slowly or stop altogether.

Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth College, suggests open communication with your partner if you’re on edge.

“Approach it slowly—in a roundabout manner, rather than directly,” she says. “Letting your SO know that you’d prefer to do it that way can help your relationship from faltering.”

Establishing trust through communication is an important step when it comes to reducing your anxiety about sex.

Related: 13 College Women Get Real About Their Sexual Histories 

4. Pleasure yourself

Becoming more comfortable and embracing your body will help you become more comfortable with somebody else. Masturbation is a great release for your body. It can also normalize your body to the feeling of intimacy and orgasms so you won't be sent into a frenzy if you do engage in sex.

Sarah*, a junior at the University of Alabama, also suggests watching pornography to relax yourself.

“There is a huge stigma around women watching porn, but there is a lot of material out there to educate women about their bodies and how they want to be pleasured,” she says. “It may also increase your own libido and inspire you to actively want to have sex.”

Self-love is the best love, and it’s an important step to intercourse with someone else.

Sex can be an escape from life’s anxieties if you wait until you are mentally and physically ready. You're not in a race or competition with anyone. Patience is key, but following the above steps may put you on a path to readiness.

*Names have been changed.