By listening to my clients over the years I've realised how many people have sexual hang-ups. Often they are insecurities, inhibitions, shame or situations that prevent them from having or enjoying sex.
Hang-ups can put a damper on desire and may affect your sex life with your partner. It's difficult to feel sexy or be in the mood when these intrusive thoughts enter your mind.
Being worried about sexual skills and performance is one of the major issues men can struggle with, especially with a new partner.
Will I be as good as their other lovers?
Will I lose my erection or come too quickly?
These insecurities can become an emotional minefield.
Another major hang-up for men is that they may not be able to make their partner orgasm. This is an issue women also worry about, a lot. They often blame themselves and focus too much on it, which actually makes having an orgasm more difficult.
The movies have a lot to answer for in the way sex is portrayed; it is often unrealistic and confusing. Onscreen sex usually shows extremely good-looking couples connecting with each other with little or no foreplay. They orgasm within minutes and usually both at the same time, which is almost impossible to do. This sets up many for disappointment with the real thing.
Talk about the things you are comfortable with doing and be honest about what you like or dislike.
Poor body image -- feeling self-conscious about the way your body looks -- is a hang-up that affects all genders. For the average man, his penis is his most important possession, however, many men experience anxiety about the size and appearance of their penises. For most these feelings will pass, but for others they can be persistent and disabling.
For women, the arrival of the Brazilian wax and pubic hair removal craze, has prompted them to have a closer look at their vulvas and labia -- and often they don't like what they see. They don't look at all like the ones they may have seen in porn and it's easy to understand why labiaplasty operations have become popular.
Some women don't like having sex with the lights on because they don't want their partners to see their not-so-perfect bodies. But men are visual creatures and having the lights off is not very exciting. I often suggest having some candles burning or to have lights with a dimmer; to help make the bedroom a place where it's fun to have sex.
Sometimes people are so insecure they need to be told that they are good at sex and keep on asking their partners about this. There is nothing wrong with wanting some praise sometimes but don't overdo it, seeking compliments can spoil the mood. And men should remember that women sometimes fake an orgasm because they can't stand to be pressured all the time with the question: "Have you had an orgasm yet?"
Many of my clients feel uncomfortable receiving and giving their partners oral sex, mainly because they are not sure how to please each other or find it embarrassing. Smell can be a worry for a woman, but healthy female genitalia have a natural scent and will turn most partners on. There's no need to shower every time before you have sex -- another hang-up many people have.
Since it can be much more difficult for a woman to orgasm than a man, it's important that a woman knows how to have an orgasm on her own. Then she can show her partner how to do it and how she likes it. Men love it when they become good at pleasuring their partners with oral sex and, of course when they receive it themselves.
Privacy is another sexual hang-up issue. These days, young couples often live with their parents or in-laws for a while for financial reasons and having sex with your parents around can be a challenge. I suggest having a lock on the bedroom door for couples with children, parents should have privacy and children shouldn't be exposed to seeing their parents having sex.
Another hang-up is that some people believe they are too old to have sex, which is not surprising as in today's society many people think older people are not sexual anymore. But with hormone replacement therapies available for women and the many male erectile-dysfunction drugs on the market, older people can enjoy a healthy, enjoyable sex life into their eighties or even older. I am not just talking about intercourse; kissing, cuddling, holding hands or lying in bed together can be great sexual intimacy.
So what to do to overcome sexual hang-ups?
Sexuality is an important part of your life and your relationship and good communication is the key to sharing your feelings and worries with your partner. Talk about the things you are comfortable with doing and be honest about what you like or dislike. Together you may be able to overcome some of your hang-ups and enjoy sex even more.