Why is sex embarrassing?

Sex: it’s a lot of things.

Sex can be meaningful. Sex can be hurtful. Sex can be rambunctious or solemn, sweet or rough.  It can even be funny.  A person’s experience of sex will change depending on who’s involved, what mood they’re in, and which sexual activities are occurring.

So yeah, sex can be embarrassing. But it doesn’t have to be.

Sometimes embarrassment occurs when one or both partners aren’t comfortable with his/her body, or when one partner initiates sexual activities the other isn’t interested in.  Sex can be embarrassing if a partner is unclear on how to be sexually active in particular ways, or if details of the relationship become public.  And worrying about pregnancy and STIs only increases this feeling of self-consciousness.

There are a lot of ways to avoid embarrassment during sex, however.  First, make sure you’re ready. Embarrassment can be a sign that you’re not ready to be sexually active, or that you’re not comfortable with a particular partner. Take a step back if you’re feeling any hesitation. A good partner will give you the time you need to be sure.

Second, love your body. Everyone’s body looks different, so try not to judge yours too harshly.  (Or your partner’s, for that matter!)

Third, keep communicating. It’s okay if certain activities or atmospheres don’t appeal to you—just make sure you let your partner know, respectfully. Ask your partner what he or she prefers.  Talking about your sexual histories may feel awkward, but it will alleviate any worries and build trust in the relationship. And consider talking to a trusted adult about your experiences. You might be surprised by the helpful perspectives they have to share.

Finally, a good dose of humor goes a long way. If something is making you feel awkward, your partner probably feels awkward too! Assess the situation to be sensitive, but don’t be afraid to laugh at your mistakes.  Your partner will probably appreciate your good nature.

We can’t control everything about our sexual experiences, but we can make healthy choices to cut down on embarrassment!  Choosing a birth control method ahead of time, knowing your STI status, choosing a trusted adult to talk to, and cultivating respectful relationships are keys to confident, healthy, and fun sexual experiences.  Need someone to talk to? Come in to Teen Clinic to meet with a nurse or counselor. To talk to someone your own age, you can friend Shape Ers on Facebook and send our peer educators a message. And don’t forget about our 24-hour text line when you need to double-check a fact or get a quick opinion! Just text “2tc,” then your question, to 36263. All your information will be kept confidential.