For something that's meant to be fun, a lot of people have fears relating to sex.
For both, pregnancy or fear of getting an STI, body insecurities, consent, and embarrassment can add a level of fear to sex.
The researchers asked participants to rank specific sex-related fears on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most serious concern.
They found that having intercourse with a partner who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) was the most significant fear, scoring an average of seven out of 10.
The second most serious fear (which scored nearly six out of 10) was found to be that of an unintended pregnancy.
Perhaps surprisingly, nearly as worrisome as an unintended pregnancy was the fear that a person’s partner won’t find him or her attractive.
The next most common fears in the top 10 concentrated on issues relating to low confidence and self-esteem: being unattractive, failing to satisfy a partner, and being generally bad at sex.
Using the data, the researchers then divided sex fears by gender.
They found that for women, the top three fears involved potential consequences: a partner who won’t wear a condom, a partner with an STI, and a broken condom that leads to pregnancy.
While STI and pregnancy fears also comprised two of the top three fears for men, the second most common fear (above even the worry of unintended pregnancy) was that a partner will not achieve an orgasm or feel satisfied.
As for the rest of the list, the majority of men’s sex fears related to insecurities: ejaculating prematurely, feeling unattractive, being unable to “perform” or “bad” at sex, or penis size worries.
In contrast, women’s fears focussed on consent: that a partner won’t take no for an answer or will press to do something that makes her uncomfortable.
According to the team at Superdrug Online Doctor, communication and being clued up about sexual health could be the key to removing fears around sex for many men and women.
"Sex should be a positive and healthy experience for all involved – and an experience that involves open communication between partners about sexual health, contraception, boundaries, and other important topics," they say.
"Don’t let embarrassment get in the way of discussing important issues or taking care of your sexual health issues."
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