I am a bundle of neuroses, all of which prevent me from staying fully in the moment, especially during sex.
As my spouse attempts to put the moves on me, I can’t help but wonder: Did I forget to do that thing that’s due tomorrow? Did I switch the laundry? Is our 8-year-old going to wake up and wonder why our bedroom door is locked?
Not only that, but with a complicated relationship with my body, compounded by a culture steeped in anti-fat bias, there’s a whole slew of other intrusive thoughts to contend with: Is he looking at my thighs? Am I too heavy to be on top? Who does he think I am: a Cirque du Soleil performer? This is uncomfortable as heck.
According to a 2021 article published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, I’m not alone. Research indicates that when individuals are unhappy with their bodies, they experience sexual anxiety. This anxiety naturally makes it difficult for folks to enjoy sex.
Whether you’re also grappling with the impact of internalized fatphobia, or you’re comfortable with your big, beautiful bod and just want to optimize your sex life so it feels more comfortable and pleasurable, I’ve got you.
Interrogate those body-related feels.
For those who do experience sexual anxiety because of how they feel about their body, I encourage you to question where those feelings are coming from and how you might shift your mindset. Loving your body may feel impossible—at least 100% of the time—but might body neutrality be within reach? I love the concept of body neutrality, which urges folks to see that their physical appearance is not tied to their self-worth or their health. If anything, we should appreciate our bodies for everything they’re capable of doing for us. Like enjoying intimacy alone or with our partners.
Make sure your environment is comfortable.
This tip applies to anyone, really. Consider lighting, temperature, the lock on the door… all the usual suspects. And make sure you have all the supplies you need. Lubricant? Check! A thousand blankets? Maybe that’s just me. A selection of fun toys? Heck yeah! And as far as making various positions more comfortable, you may find that a selection of props makes a world of difference.
But we’ll come back to those in a bit…
Optimize your toy selection.
If you’re getting busy in a larger body, you might find that toys with longer handles, or wider curves, are easier to use while in the moment. Try one of our wand-style vibes, like Twilight Mood or Just One Touch.
Use props to make those positions more accessible.
Here’s the one tip that I feel doesn’t occur to many people. Whether you’re rocking missionary, trying that one super-hot-looking position you saw in that one super-hot movie, or going full-on Cirque du Soleil, if it’s not working for you, it may still be attainable with just the careful placement of a prop or two.
After watching all of How to Build a Sex Room, I obviously want one of those curvy chaise lounges designed especially for sexy-time. But going full-on sex dungeon isn’t realistic for many of us. Smaller sex wedges and cushions are available out there, but you can also use a selection of pillows to get the same effect. Just be mindful that a firmer pillow will likely provide a greater level of support.
For example, if you like missionary position (one of my personal faves, despite its rep as being “vanilla”), you can place a pillow beneath your hips to give you and your partner more space where your bodies meet.
If you like to be entered from behind but you experience back pain, or supporting your weight with your hands and wrists is uncomfortable, you can modify your doggie style by resting on your forearms, placing a pillow beneath your torso, or by lying on your side.
If knee pain is the larger issue, you can also lie belly-down, just elevating the hips slightly with your handy-dandy pillow.
Want another option for good measure? While lying on your back, scooch your hips to the edge of the bed, letting your legs dangle off the side. Then, elevate your hips with those props of yours, allowing easier entry for the partner standing before you. If you don’t like the feel of your legs dangling, you can also lift them up and rest your ankles on their shoulders.
I could go on, but the long and the short of it is that, just as in yoga, every position can be modified, and props are our friends.
Expand your definition of sex.
Oh, you. It wouldn’t be a Steph Auteri post if I didn’t mention this tip at least once. As I’ve written in the past (many, many times), the most commonly used definition for sex—penis-in-vagina (PIV) penetrative intercourse—is limiting as heck. It excludes various genders, sexualities, abilities, and also leaves out a wide range of intimate, pleasurable acts.
If penetrative intercourse isn’t doing it for you, there are plenty of other activities you could try. Outercourse, anyone?