Sex is back on Monday! Here’s how to overcome lockdown intimacy anxiety

By Stephanie Taylor, Founder and Managing Director of Kegel8

If you’re single, dating or don’t live with your partner, you’ve probably had no choice but to be celibate since Boris banned household mixing.

But after many sexless months, people across the country will finally be able to get intimate again on the 17th May, thanks to the Government’s new guidelines stating you’ll be able to meet indoors, hug others and stay away from home overnight.

This is hugely exciting news for some, but others may be left feeling anxious and worried. In fact, research claims ‘how to have sex’ was the most Googled question of 2020.

Sex can feel like a lot of pressure at the best of times, let alone after months of no physical intimacy.

To help alleviate your fears and boost your confidence in the bedroom, founder of Kegel8 and intimacy expert, Stephanie Taylor gives her top tips…

Be honest

There’s no shame in feeling a little out of practice if you haven’t been intimate in a while, especially with a new partner or someone you’re reconnecting with.

If you want to relight the fire and ensure you’re going to be satisfied, be honest about how you feel and what you want.

Laying everything out on the table will mean there’s no awkwardness. If you both feel heard and respected, trust will follow and make the whole experience ten times better.

This is the perfect time to explore one another’s long-awaited fantasies and find a deeper physical connection.

Go solo

Sex isn’t all about being performative and pleasing the other person, it’s also for yourself.

When you’ve been locked down alone or have gone through a serious dry patch, it can help to get back to basics and rediscover what turns you on.

Masturbation can help you re-familiarise yourself with all the things you personally like, to give you your sexual confidence back before you introduce a sexual partner.

Experimenting with self-pleasure can also increase your stamina in the bedroom, giving both you and your partner more time to enjoy sex.

Invest in aids

Preparation can be key in calming your nerves. It might not be for everyone, but for those who suffer fear and anxiety with intimacy, it can be a godsend.

If you’re planning on having sex but lack confidence, invest in products that will make you feel your best.

It could be lube, sex toys, underwear or a game to break the ice. If you’re feeling confident about your body and can introduce a playful element, it’s more likely to be enjoyable for both partners.

Weather the storm

It can be hard to navigate anxiety during intimacy, and anxiety disorders can make it extremely hard to get in the mood.

If you feel your stress levels are rising or a panic attack starting to come, apologise and remove yourself from the situation as soon as you can. Getting some space, moving around and taking a breather is a great start.

‘Conscious breathing’ can prevent an attack if you can feel yourself starting to tense up. Breathe deeply from your belly, and with your hand on your stomach inhale for five counts, then exhale it all out. Try and keep it consistent, monitoring the rise and fall of your stomach and focus your mind on staying calm.

You could also try the 5,4,3,21 method – by using your senses to list five things around you to distract yourself.

If you find yourself in a triggering/uncomfortable situation, there is absolutely no shame in changing your mind about a sexual partner – your emotional wellbeing comes first.

More than nerves

Sometimes our discomfort is more than just a little anxiety. Sexual dysfunction is more common than you might think. For millions of women, pain or discomfort during sex is a reality. In fact, researchers estimate at least 1 in 13 British women experience it.

There’s a long list of things which can cause sex to be painful or uncomfortable for both partners, from Vaginismus, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Vaginal Atrophy (dryness), to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and STIs.

Don’t suffer in silence if something doesn’t feel right – trust your body. Your GP or gynaecologist can discuss this with you and provide the right recommendations and treatments.

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