Common female fears about sex
Learning to love yourself and your body can be an arduous task for some women, though they are not alone. Most women go through spells of uncertainty.
While men are, in general, expected to be active and forward about their sexual needs and preferences, many women are taught that it is unladylike or ‘tarty’ to be the initiator in sexual situations and direct about what gives them pleasure, This enforced repression of quite natural behaviour causes many women to experience difficulties when it comes to expressing their sexual needs, mak¬ing them fearful about many things to do with sex.
Fear of pregnancy
Fear of pregnancy, a common female fear, can affect women whether they are teenagers or mature women. Avoiding pregnancy, on the face of it, may appear to be fairly easy, taking into consideration the array of contraceptive devices and methods available. Any woman who has ever had a pregnancy scare, however, knows that it is not as easy as it seems, and any woman who has had to make the choice to have an abortion is aware of the risks that pregnancy itself can carry. For some women, the fear of becoming pregnant affects them, and their relationship, in a very sexual manner. Amanda, a 30-year-old PR executive, found that her fear was affecting her relationship.
‘The problem was that I only really enjoyed oral sex. I wasn’t keen on penetrative sex, and I’m ashamed to say I lied to my partner. I told him that it hurt or that it was not as pleasant for me as oral sex. I could sense that oral sex had become a bore to him over the years. He really wanted to have ‘normal’ sex, as he put it, and he was starting to question whether or not I was strange for not wanting it.’
During her therapy it was revealed that Amanda was terrified about the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Despite the fact that on the few occa¬sions that they had penetrative sex they used condoms, she had an overriding fear that the latex would be faulty and split. Her fear was that pregnancy would effectively end her career, and that she would be left with no option but to become a mother.
During the therapy Amanda was exposed to a great deal of information regarding contraception and the effectiveness of the various methods. She decided to use the Pill, which greatly eased her fear of getting pregnant. She was able to talk her fears through with her partner and gradually it was possible to rearrange their lovemaking so that the desires of both partners were taken into consideration. Amanda found herself able to relax sexually and enjoy penetrative sex once she felt she had control over the decision to become a mother.
Many men don’t expect to have to do much work emotionally once their relationship is up and running, and consider talking about their relationship as unnecessary. They are used to women sorting things out and taking control emotionally, and also take it for granted that their partner is content, if she’s still with him.
Unless a woman can confront this reluctance on the part of her partner to converse on an emotional level, she runs the risk of having her arguments undermined. He can make himself emotionally unapproachable and unaccountable. She then runs the risk of appearing as a nag because of her constant attempts to effect a semblance of emotional compromise. Although increasing numbers of men are becoming more emotionally open, the gap between the way women would like their partners to be and the way they are in reality is still wide.
Feeling afraid of reacting in a sexually uninhibited way is relatively common among women who have been brought up to appear ‘nice’. They often find it very difficult to let go sexually in case they will be thought ‘loose’ or ‘tarty’. Perhaps they fear
that their excited responses won’t be appropriate – which is in itself a reversal of performance anxiety.
Many women who have been conditioned into thinking this way experience trouble reaching their sexual potential, or even enjoying themselves sexually. Every part of their sexuality can be affected by this lack of confidence, from finding it difficult to reach orgasm, to feeling uncomfortable about wearing sexy clothes.
The success rate among women seeking sexual or marital therapy to help with such problems is, however, very good and their futures are normally bright.
Lots of women are unhappy about their physical appearance, even at the best of times. Scars, flabby tummies and breasts that are in some way ‘imperfect’ rate high on the list of common complaints.
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Perhaps the biggest fear in modern society is that of being overweight. Western, media-based societies worship slimness and, understandably, women with fuller figures feel left out. On the other hand, some societies appreciate the attractions of larger women, so those who verge on the thin side may feel rejected. Most fears about looking unattractive are unfounded, because ultimately personality is much more important than looks. Anyway, men love all kinds of women and very rarely notice the so-called ‘imperfections’ that worry their partners so much.
Amy, a 45-year-old teacher, began really to dislike her body, and was afraid of being rejected by her husband. She explains, ‘I’d had three children and was conscious that child-bearing had taken its toll on my body. I noticed stretch marks, and I had much darker nipples than I used to. My breasts were more saggy and my stomach had got very flabby. I felt really unhappy and I kept fearing that my husband had gone off me and I was on the downhill run to middle age. I was terrified of being dumped for a younger, prettier woman.’
Patrick eventually suggested that they see a therapist. In therapy it was revealed that although Amy’s perception of her body was that it was pretty horrid, her husband did not agree. He was amazed at her negative views, and said that she was as beautiful as the day they had met. It was not he who had gone off sex, but her. Her conscious fears about her appearance and about being deserted had made her less keen on sex and he had picked up on the message.
Reassurance from the therapist and her husband that she was still attractive helped her a lot. They were encouraged to spend more time together being erotic, not to concentrate only on genital sex, and were taught sensual massage. Patrick also accompanied her on a shopping trip to buy some attractive lingerie and spent several weekends taking photographs of her, of which she was very proud, and this heightened her self-esteem. These activities brought them closer together, allowing him to prove to her that her body was still attractive to him.
Most women will not have seen another woman’s genitals, or have any idea of the enormous differences there can be between women’s bodies. Indeed, many women have never even looked closely at their own vagina. The vagina, by its very nature, is almost hidden away, unlike the penis, and the only way a woman can get a good look at herself is to use a mirror. If the woman is shy this is unlikely to happen and consequently, she is more likely to believe the myths about female gcnitalia and what they should look, smell or taste like. Everyone is unique.
Some women are appalled at the size of their vaginal lips, or feel that their vagina has become much wider after childbirth, and will therefore feel unsatisfying to their partner. Factual information and reassurance from a partner can help dispel some of the myths.
Fears about masturbation are often linked to performance anxiety. Many women fear that if they get into the habit of masturbating they will become addicted to it and go off sex with their partner. This almost never occurs. Clinical experience shows that women who masturbate frequently also enjoy sex more.
Methods of arousal and reaching orgasm learned during masturbation can be incorporated into a couple’s love-play. Some women find that the best way to orgasm during intercourse is by playing with their clitoris.
Not knowing what to say
Most of us like to be told that we are attractive, sexy and loved. While some people are very chatty while making love, most couples say little, and some don’t make a sound. This may be because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, or of appearing lewd or stupid. Talking ‘dirty’ is a great turn-on for some people, but others find it embarrassing. Some couples like to share their fantasies as they make love to heighten the excitement. Finding out what you and your partner can enjoy together is an important part of sexual discovery.
Solving the problem
We are not born with our various fears and anxieties, we learn them, and just as we have assumed negative attitudes associated with our bodies and sexual behaviour, we can also reverse those negative assumptions, turning them on their heads. This, however, takes considerable commitment and effort on your part.
The most important thing to remember is that if something makes you uncomfortable or afraid, don’t do it. The chances are there are reasons for your fear deep down in your psyche, that you will probably want to explore at your own pace. It is up to you to gradually begin tackling the issues, step by step. Remember, for the problem solving to work properly, it should be fun.
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