Body Shame and Sexual Dysfunction

Body Shame and Sexual Dysfunction

Many of us have experienced body shame at some point in our lives. We can think we’re not fit enough, thin enough, big enough, etc. Can these insecurities lead to sexual dysfunctions? Of course they can.

It’s impossible to avoid some level of body shame. Most of us find ways to navigate through this, with it only impacting us in a minor way. However, for others, being ashamed of their body can lead to all kinds of issues. These issues can include physiological problems, relationship avoidance, sexual avoidance, and problems with your self esteem.

Body shame can lead to the following issues in your sex life:

  • It can distract you from the sexual experience.
  • It can make you overthink during sex.
  • It can keep you from having sex.
  • It causes stress.
  • It prevents connection.

Body Shame and Sexual Avoidance

Each week, I work with people who stay out of a sexual arena. They don’t think that anyone would ever be attracted to them, so they just don’t have sex. This can be related to anxiety about penis size and body fat. It can be related to feeling unattractive in general, which can lead you to feel like you’re undeserving of sex.

When people are ashamed of their bodies, they also are more likely to have increased anxiety. This can lead to a complete avoidance of the vulnerability of sex. Rather than letting your body enjoy the experience, and trusting that people enjoy all different types of bodies, the focus goes onto unrealistic expectations of sexual experiences. People are vulnerable to believing that only certain body types are worthy of sex. This can set up a dynamic where you feel like you should be a performer, rather than just finding comfort in being yourself in the experience.

Sexual Dysfunction

Some people get so concerned about their bodies that it becomes distracting during sex. I have seen men become too heavily focused on their bodies, and shortly after this they lose their erections. Or they have a level of anxiety about their body being touched which impacts ejaculation.
Body shame can lead people to have an increased stress response, which takes them out of the sexual experience. It also makes you more anxious. Sex happens best when we are mostly calm. I say “mostly,” because a little excitement can really add to a sexual experience. For people who are experiencing sexual dysfunction, it’s important to focus your attention on improving your self-image. There are many other elements that can lead to a sexual dysfunction, but improving on this can go a long way.

Relationship Avoidance

I have seen some people become so concerned about their bodies that they won’t even date people. They’re so sure that their bodies could never be liked, that they can’t let anyone see them without their clothes on. I have worked with many people over the years who underestimate how attractive they could be to someone. Television, movies, magazines, and even pornography can lead people to believe that there are only certain body types that deserve sexual attention. These myths can keep you from entering a sexual arena. Don’t fall into this trap.

Feeling Unworthy

Comparison can destroy your chance of finding a partner. Your body type doesn’t dictate your worth of sex, nor does it dictate your worth of being in a relationship. Everyone is worthy of being in a relationship. This doesn’t mean that finding a relationship is easy. However, I can tell you that the way you look doesn’t determine your relationship worth.

Reorient to Appreciation

Improving your body image can take a lot of hard work. Rather than looking for someone from the outside to prove your attractiveness to you, it’s important that you discover this first. What do you appreciate most about your body? If you say “nothing,” don’t be so all-or-nothing about this. Orient to what you appreciate the most. It doesn’t mean that you have to appreciate it 100%. However, if you focus on a little more appreciation, you can set yourself up on a trajectory for self-appreciation.

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If you find that you’re getting stuck in being unsatisfied with your body image, then you might benefit from talking with a therapist. Feel free to contact us is you are feeling like you’re stuck.

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Body Shame and Sexual Dysfunction