Intimidating Intimacies - A look at the Sexual Anxieties

Sexual Anxiety

There’s more to sex than a good orgasm. In fact, research has shown sexual activity can be beneficial to the heart, keep people in shape, and even reduce stress. Perhaps more importantly, sex has been linked as one of the keys to building a strong and happy relationship with a partner.

However, there are plenty of reasons why getting physical with someone new (or even a long-term partner) might come with some anxiety.

To learn more, we surveyed 1,000 Europeans and Americans to see what can make sex so nerve-wracking rather than pleasure-inducing. From their sense of adventure when the lights are off to their feelings on sex toys and sexual scenarios, we wanted to find out what most men and women are uncomfortable with in bed. Keep reading to see what we uncovered.

Uncharted sexual territory

Anxiety when trying a sex position, sex toy or sex act for the first time

When it comes to time between the sheets, some Britons may be relying on the same old moves to keep their partners pleasured. While 1 in 10 admitted to not trying a new sex position in the last six years according to one study, even more said the quality of their sex life didn’t improve with time. Looking at some of the sexual fantasies men and women share, there may be an opportunity to add a bit more adventure to people’s sex lives.

Our survey of European and American men and women revealed that nearly 9 percent of respondents didn’t consider themselves at all adventurous in bed, and 19 percent were only slightly adventurous. Despite being less nervous about introducing new sexual positions or sex toys (which can be a great way to explore each other’s body) into their relationships, most people admitted to feeling most apprehensive about exploring sexual acts like bondage or public sex for the first time.

Uneasy sexual operations

Anxiety when trying different sexual scenarios

Our study revealed three sexual scenarios that gave our panel of men and women the most anxiety: public sex, BDSM, and anal sex.

Sex in public may be more popular these days; however, despite the apparent trendiness of public fornication, both Europeans and Americans were more apprehensive about getting it on in front of potential strangers than BDSM or anal sex. Rated as even more anxiety-inducing to Americans than Europeans, the thrill of getting caught might be more terrifying than alluring to people polled.

Our survey also revealed women were more anxious about anal sex, while men were typically more hesitant toward BDSM. Women may be concerned about the possible health risks associated with anal sex, although experts suggest proper precautions (including the use of condoms) may help reduce some of these risks.

If you’ve seen (or even heard of) “Fifty Shades of Grey,” you might be interested in trying BDSM in your own red room of sorts. While the book and film franchise may not be an entirely accurate representation of BDSM culture, some analysts suggest quality communication could be key to reducing anxiety caused by handcuffs or basic bondage. If you’re feeling really inspired, there are even apps to find other people who’re willing to experiment as well.

Pleasure play

66% want to use sex toys with their partner

While you might expect introducing sex toys into a relationship could make your partner feel inadequate, sex experts have identified that isn’t exactly the case and there certain tools and trinkets you can bring into the bedroom for mutual satisfaction. Bringing up the conversation in the first place can be tricky, but a little bit of research and some open communication may help men and women realise the benefits of these adult-themed accessories.

According to our survey, roughly 2 in 5 men and women polled acknowledged equal interest in introducing sex toys to their sex lives. However, over 26 percent of women believed they were more interested in exploring sex toys than their partners, and roughly 1 in 10 said neither party was excited by the idea.

sex position and sex scenario preferences

Trying new sexual positions isn’t just about achieving orgasmic bliss – it can also be about feeling comfortable with your partner and own body.

To learn more, we asked men and women which sexual positions they believed were more favorable to them. According to women, a majority said they thought 69-ing, oral sex, and anal were better pleasures for their partners and men typically agreed. Women may be twice as likely to perform oral sex as men, but there are plenty of benefits for receiving rather than giving. Oral sex can be good for partners to learn each other’s body better and can increase sexual communication along the way.

The positions fall in the favor of women on the missionary position, spooning, and cowgirl. Just over 1/10 women find anal sex more favorable to them, however legs up tabletop were pretty close, with the favorability just barely teetering in favor of men.

Sticky situations

Least preferred sexual scenarios

Before jumping into a new sexual position, it might help to know what most people are least comfortable trying out. Body confidence can lead to bedroom complications, and some sexual positions may prove particularly revealing or even difficult to perform. Ultimately, honest communication is your best tool for exploring your partner’s body and discovering new routes to sexual satisfaction along the way.

For men and women, the most potentially uncomfortable sexual position turned out to be the same: 69 while standing. Sex in a standing position may sound stimulating in theory, but it can also be more difficult to pull off. While men were less hesitant regarding anal sex, more than 30 percent of men and nearly 55 percent of women were not at all comfortable considering going backstage.

The least anxiety-inducing sexual positions? Missionary, doggy style, and cowgirl.

Finding sexual confidence

Whether you’re nervous about intimacy in general or certain positions and activities make you feel the most uncomfortable, you’re not alone. From sex in public places to anal sex, no one is completely comfortable with every angle of intimacy.

At Superdrug Online Doctor, we never want you to feel uncomfortable with your sexual health. Regardless of your concerns – from contraceptives to erectile dysfunction – we’re here to provide convenient access to the resources you need to feel confident in every way.


We surveyed 500 European men and women who were in a relationship using Clickworker and 500 American men and women who were in a relationship using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk on their physical intimacy habits. For questions involving sexual acts and names, we showed respondents pictures as to avoid confusion and discrepancies with names of positions and acts.

The data we are presenting rely on self-reporting. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include but are not limited to: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.

No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on means alone. As such, this content is purely exploratory.

Fair Use Statement

Sex is more closely related to anxiety than many of us think. If you found our research interesting, please feel free to share with whomever you’d like for noncommercial purposes. We only ask that you link back to the author. If you have any questions, contact us at [email protected].